What it's like to launch a small business in Edinburgh

Edinburgh castle. Photo by Jörg Angeli on Unsplash.

About us

We are Voxblock, the creators of a screen free audiobook player and physical audiobooks for kids. We believe in putting the story front and centre, to let children choose their own entertainment independently, and without the distractions of screens and wifi.

Voxblock is an Edinburgh-based start-up, founded by husband and wife duo Tom and Rebecca. The idea for Voxblock was born when Rebecca saw how much their young daughter enjoyed listening to old cassette tapes. Realising that there was a gap in the market for a contemporary alternative, they started experimenting with ideas for an audiobook player that didn’t rely on screens or wifi.

Following many months of tinkering in the garage, and later experimenting and refining in our Edinburgh office, Voxblock was born - an audiobook player with tangible books that kids can use autonomously. 

Our partners

Bringing Voxblock to life involves working with some brilliant manufacturers, and we’ve tried to keep the production process as local as possible. We’ve done this for a number of reasons: sustainability is obviously a factor, and local manufacturers mean that our parts don’t have to travel as far to reach us. As a new business, it’s also beneficial to build relationships in the local area. We’re proud to be a Scottish business, and like to keep our product as Scottish made as is reasonably possible.

The plastic cases of our players are made by the brilliant Glossbrook in Bathgate, our PCBs are made by Stewart Technology in Galashiels, and our beautifully designed audiobook covers are printed by Lothian Labels in Livingston. All these elements are then assembled by hand in the Voxblock offices, to make our player and audiobooks.

Working with independent publishers

Creating our tangible audiobooks relies on building relationships with publishers. We work with a multitude of publishers of all sizes - from huge multinational companies, to small businesses. We think it’s important to have this balance, as it creates diversity within our content. 

So far, we have already built a relationship with one Edinburgh-based independent publisher - Barrington Stoke - and hope to continue working with more Scottish publishers going forward.

Edinburgh’s literary heritage

With centuries of literary history, we can’t think of a better city than Edinburgh in which to be launching Voxblock. We don’t think of ourselves as a tech company - instead we’re all about the books, and our number one goal is to provide another way for children to access stories.

Edinburgh is famous for its literary legacy, and especially children’s literature. The Voxblock office is just round the corner from the house where Kenneth Grahame was born - a fact that we’re reminded of every time we pack an order containing a Wind in the Willows audiobook.


The Wind in the Willows Voxblock audiobook cover.

Launching in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a brilliant city in which to be a small business. We’ve been lucky to have benefitted from the fantastic networks in place to support and promote local start-ups, such as EGG, as well as meeting and learning from other business founders in the city.

Our official launch came at the end of August at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, a setting that couldn’t have been more fitting. We were delighted to sponsor a children’s event at the festival, at which Ross Montgomery - one of the authors featured in the Voxblock library - spoke about his work alongside two other children’s authors.

The Book Festival was the perfect setting to share Voxblock with the public for the first time, and it was a pleasure to see our physical audiobooks in children’s hands. Our launch weekend saw us selling Voxblock from the festival bookshop, as well as demonstrating the player to hundreds of festival visitors. The feedback that we had - from Edinburgh locals and visitors alike - was invaluable.