Better Know a B: Bulb Energy
Bulb Energy know that to truly transform the way energy is bought, used and produced, people need to regain agency in their decisions around energy usage. They want to democratise renewable energy, help people reduce their usage by enabling new technologies like electric cars and domestic solar. And they want to provide an example to energy suppliers all over the world that there's a better way to provide energy. Co-founder Amit Gudka took time out to answer our Better Know a B questions.
SD | Tell us a bit about the history of your company?
Hayden Wood, Bulb’s other co-founder, and I both used to work in the energy industry. We discovered that people were getting a bad deal. Suppliers were using very old technology to run their businesses. Prices were sky high and the customer service people received was terrible. At the same time, we wanted to make renewable energy something everyone could afford, not just the wealthy few. According to recent research we conducted with YouGov, over 70% of people think we should support renewable energy more, but only 1% have made the switch. So we started Bulb to offer people a choice they’d never had before: low-cost renewable energy with fantastic service.
SD | Why did you become a B Corp?
Hayden and I had friends who worked at other B Corps (Charity Bank and ClearlySo), and they recommended we certify. From the start, when we first reviewed the impact assessment, it felt like Bulb becoming a B Corp was a natural fit. We started Bulb because we believe business can be a force for good and the B Corp certification looked like an excellent framework under which to formalise our ‘triple bottom line’ of People, Planet and Profit.
SD | What excites you about being part of the global B Corporation movement?
Being part of the global B Corporation movement is extremely exciting. Many of the challenges we face as a society today are cross-border. Climate change, migration, and shortages of resources like water are just some of the issues that require international cooperation. As a result, it feels great to be part of a growing global collection of like-minded businesses focussed on improving the world through business. And it’s particularly inspiring to know this is a movement not restricted to one country, continent or region.
SD | Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?
Bulb is transforming the UK energy industry by fixing the misconception that renewable energy is more expensive and changing the way homes and businesses manage their energy usage. We’re the fastest growing renewable energy supplier in the UK providing 100% renewable electricity and 10% renewable gas at a price people can afford. We aim to create a demand revolution in renewables and use technology to keep our prices low and service great.
SD | What benefits have you seen since certification?
Certification has enabled us to quickly communicate what we stand for. That benefits us in two ways. Internally, we can hold ourselves to account against a rigorous set of criteria. Externally, partners we work with and potential members who are considering switching to Bulb know right away where our priorities lie as an organisation.
SD | How did your other staff react to the certification?
Some the team had already heard of B Corps. In fact, one member of the team had helped pass the B Corp legislation in New York state and was particularly enthusiastic about achieving certification. As we have settled further into our certification, there has only been positive responses from team Bulb, and I also detect a growing sense of pride!
SD | What has changed in your organisation as a result of taking the B Impact Assessment?
We’ve put in place more training and development for members of team Bulb and increased the number of feedback and performance review opportunities. We are improving the reporting of our community activity, ensuring it has a real impact. Finally, we have brought together our members to find out how we can improve their experience and further Bulb’s mission to transform the energy industry. One of the things they told us they’d like is more detailed metrics and impact on a per member basis. So we’ll be rolling out individual impact reports to all of our members in 2017.
SD | What does the year ahead hold in store for your company?
Our mission is to create a demand revolution in renewables. We can’t do that without radically increasing the number of people who switch to 100% renewable. So, next year will be about furthering our mission by growing our membership. As we grow, we’re incredibly excited about working with our members to better manage their usage. We’re also looking forward to building our active community of members who are already providing each other with peer to peer support and advice.
SD | Who is your B Corp crush?
We can’t hide our crush on the original company that connected us with B Corp - ClearlySo. They do fantastic work funding important businesses, enterprises and charities that have a social impact.
SD | It’s 2020, 5 years since you certified as a B Corp, what does the movement look like?
The movement will have continued to grow and gained a significant profile across the business community in the UK. Consumers will start to recognise the B Corp logo, and it will resonate with them in the choices they make. There will be a really diverse range of businesses, large and small, from different communities across the UK representing different industries. Finally, the B-Hive has a real-world community headquarters that is shaped like an actual beehive.
SD | What is inspiring you at the moment?
The Switch is a timely and important book by Chris Goodall. He powerfully argues solar power and electricity storage have the potential to revolutionise the energy industry and replace fossil fuels. It’s exciting because of how urgently Goodall argues his case and the evidence he presents to show that efficient solar power and storage is not something that is decades away or even years away: it can happen far sooner than most people think. And while it’s not directly connected to renewables I also have to mention Ravichandran Ashwin, the late-blooming Indian spin maestro. As a young startup, I think we can learn a lot from his innovative adaptation of a ‘carrom ball’ into his devastating ‘sodukku ball’!