Interview: Octopus Energy CEO On Making A Successful Difference
Zena Media's Lea Jakobiak sits down with Greg Jackson, the Founder & CEO of Octopus Energy.
L: Tell us about your journey, why was setting up a green energy company so important to you?
G: I believe it is our job at Octopus Energy to bring affordable energy and tackle climate change.
I come from a small town near Middlesbrough in the North-East of England, a post-industrial region with many economic challenges; it helps form you. The only way is up, but you can still laugh about any type of adversity.
I hate markets that don’t serve society. They cause real pain for real people, and I feel technology can solve some of these problems.
I wanted to do what mattered most to me; tackle climate change and social injustice.
And so Octopus Energy was created.
L: How worried are you when it comes to climate change?
G: Climate change is our most urgent challenge.
If we don’t do anything about it, hundreds of millions will be forced to emigrate, species will be wiped out, and the face of our planet will be forever changed.
But we’re also on the cusp of being able to fix it.
L: Will we actually able to rely on renewable energy?
G: Renewable energy is becoming cheaper than fossil fuels.
Most of our transport can work on renewable energy, but only if we take advantage of all the opportunities. The entire system needs to make a change.
Within 10 years, if people use companies like ours, we can be running on 100% renewable energy.
L: The energy sector has been very much dominated by the so called "Big Six" (British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power, and SSE) - how does it feel to be taking on these giants?
G: People love to ask me about how I face competition from the “Big Six”.
We started by doing our research and realised they’re not good at customer service and not very good at technology. Their ratings say it all, so that’s what we fight them on.
When they put their prices up and blame green taxes, we put ours down and say we are efficient.
They’ve spent 20 years defending the status quo, doing the same thing, without innovation.
In the last 40 years, the cost of solar energy has become 200 times cheaper and the more we put in, the cheaper it gets.
Most customers swap to us because we are cheaper. But if we are cheaper and 0 carbon, they’re never going back. It’s just about getting more people into this renewable fold.
L: What would be your top tip to anyone who is thinking of setting up a green business?
G: If you want to make a difference, you have to do something that is going to be successful.
You can’t make a difference if it fails. Financially & economically it needs to be sustainable. This forces you to look hard at what will make it better.
People don’t like trade-offs. People want clean energy but also cheap energy.