Serial entrepreneurs enjoy phoning their energy provider to query last month’s unexpectedly steep electricity bill about as much as anyone else does. By 2012, Greg Jackson was fed up of being told that high prices were his own fault for not checking the terms or shopping around, by companies that seemed to specialise in winning over new customers rather than keeping them.
It wasn’t as though he needed the money. Several years previously, Jackson had sold an early software-as-a-service business that he’d founded in 2003 (“before it was trendy”) and was busy serving as a director in various tech firms. But he remembered what it was like growing up in Middlesbrough, when his mother struggled to make ends meet. “I knew what it was like to be from a family where an energy bill was a stressful thing. It meant you couldn’t go on school trips. It meant you couldn’t have a school uniform. That’s why when I saw these crocodile tears, it really fired me up to do something about it.”
His idea – to disrupt the lumbering multitrillion-dollar global energy sector – was an improbable one, so much so that he sat on it for three years. It was only a chance meeting in 2015 with investor Simon Rogerson, founder of the Octopus Group, that made him believe it could happen.