Focusing on customer experience may be all the rage, but you might not associate it with utility companies.
Bulb is trying to change that (and for renewable energy, too).
We caught up with the team to talk to them about their market.
In one sentence, what is your product/service?
Bulb provides affordable renewable energy to homes and businesses across the UK.
What problem(s) does it solve?
Bulb solves two main problems that energy consumers experience.
First, renewable energy has traditionally been seen as an expensive, luxury product. Today, only ~1% of UK homes have chosen to switch to a 100% renewable electricity supplier.
By using cutting-edge IT systems and taking smaller profits than our competitors, Bulb has been able to make 100% renewable electricity 20% cheaper than other 100% renewable suppliers and ‘Big Six’ standard tariffs.
Second, generally people don’t switch, despite the potential savings. According to Ofgem, 45% of people cannot recall ever having switched supplier.
Switching is commonly perceived as a long and complex process. So, we’ve come up with a new ultra fast way for consumers to switch: it takes 30 seconds, and we do the rest.
On top of that, Bulb is the only supplier to refund new joiners the unfair ‘exit fees’ their old supplier might have charged them to get out of their contracts.
What were the biggest challenges involved in building the tech or growing your team?
As with all high growth businesses, a big challenge has been building our team quickly.
We’re putting a lot of effort into recruiting people that are comfortable in a high-performance environment, keen to get involved in a growth business in its early stages, and crucially, will question the status quo.
As a result, we’re building a team with diverse range of skills and backgrounds.
We’re also working hard to keep things simple. We knew that our switching journey, the portal where our members can submit meter readings and manage their usage and the whole online experience needed to be simple, clear and easy to use.
However, simplicity and clarity do not come easy, and we are continually using technology to improve our online experience and automate our processes for faster, better service.
How will the company make money?
There are 29m energy consumers in the UK of which 45% don’t recall switching energy suppliers.
There is also huge support for renewables, in particular among young people, a group not targeted by traditional energy companies. As more people realise they are able to switch and that renewable energy can be truly affordable, we’re confident the market will continue to grow.
We have developed an advanced in-house IT system that automates a lot of the issue-resolution normally done by teams of employees at larger energy companies. We also keep all our wholesale energy trading in-house.
This allows us to keep costs far lower than our competitors and we pass this saving onto our members and retain a fair margin to build the business.
We believe that you can make a profit while at the same time being aware of our impact on people and the planet.
We’re the first energy company in the UK to be certified as a B Corp. That means we hold ourselves to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
Who is in your team?
A rapidly growing group of technology-minded people that think about energy differently.
Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?
In one year’s time, we would like to be continuing to grow at a rapid rate while providing a market leading service. We’d also like our vibrant online community of members to have grown at a similar rate.
Three years from now all our members will have had a smart meter installed. Smart meters will provide a truly accurate measurement of how much energy people are using at home and mean, as a supplier, we won’t have to rely on manual meter reads from our customers.
We’re going to develop a two-way relationship with our members based on the rich usage data smart meters produce. That will allow us to help our members manage their usage and reduce their bills.
In five years time, we want to have democratised renewable energy and be helping people reduce their usage by enabling new technologies like electric cars and domestic solar.
We want to provide an example to energy suppliers all over the world that there’s a better way to provide energy.
Other than your own, what are your favourite websites/apps/tools?
One of the three large screens we have in the office is a Geckoboard. We love the convenience of being able to visualise our key metrics at a glance.
In such a fast-moving, startup environment it’s great to be able to quickly and conveniently take stock and review what really matters.