February 3rd, 2021

Energy companies, like traffic wardens, banks and estate agents, are rarely the people you rush to tell your friends about, unless it’s to deliver a juicy horror story of confusing prices, complex contracts or call centres that left you hanging.

Greg Jackson is a man who wants to change all this. Back in 2016 he founded a company called Octopus Energy, which supplies 100% renewable energy from solar, wind and water sources. He says: “The sector stood out to me as this broken old dinosaur where people were getting a terrible deal. I wanted to build something that made customers’ lives better, while being as kind as possible to the planet.”

Together with his team, Greg’s mission is to: “provide energy that’s good for the planet, good for your wallet and good for your soul.” Four years in, the brand has spread its disruptive tentacles across the sector to attract 1.5 million domestic and business customers, as well as 30,000 5-star reviews on Trustpilot. It’s the only UK energy provider to have been made a Which? Recommended Partner three years in a row.

Credit: Octopus Energy

Greg says: “Energy is an essential commodity. We all need it and it should be provided at a fair and transparent price. I grew up as one of three kids with a single mum in a very low-income household. My mum had to learn which one was the REAL final bill, the one that would actually get us cut off. Now I see it as our job to work really hard and creatively to bring prices down for everyone, to make them transparent, without sacrificing the planet in the process. We’re a business, but how about we make money by cutting climate change, not causing it?”

Renewable energy from Octopus is no more expensive than non-green tariffs from its competitors. There’s also the option to carbon offset the gas you use and Octopus Investments is responsible for nearly 40% of the UK’s solar generation, so it’s building a renewable infrastructure too. The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology calls them: “The company that has done the most to advance UK renewables”. So far, so good for the planet.

Credit: Octopus Energy

Tariffs include outgoing Octopus designed for those with solar panels or battery storage to sell their energy back to the grid. Octopusgo is focused on electric car drivers, with four hours of super cheap, super off-peak electricity every night. There are no exit fees and customers are free to leave at any time.

That’s planet and wallet ticked off, but what about soul? Jackson sets aside time each day to personally answer customer calls and he’s active on social media too – chipping in on comments and giving out his email address to help resolve any tricky problems. On Glassdoor, the company gets a 100% approval rating for its affable CEO and 96% of employees say they would recommend working there to a friend. Employees talk about a fast-paced, but supportive culture, a relaxed environment where hard work is rewarded. One current employee called it: “The best place I have ever worked. The workload is difficult and can be stressful at times, but they are collaborative and adaptive with a great culture from the management down.”

Credit: Octopus Energy

So, is it really an eco-conscious reputation-raising utopia?

As part of its global expansion plans, in April 2020 Octopus announced an investment partnership with Origin, Australia’s largest energy company. Friends of the Earth promptly pulled the plug on their endorsement of Octopus, citing concerns about Origin’s involvement with coal power generation and fracking. Greg’s response? “Almost every potential investor with deep enough pockets had some interest in fossil fuels. We were founded to combat climate change on a global scale, and to do that we need to help brown companies become green. Origin’s investment helps us to devote hundreds of millions of pounds to accelerate the transition to renewables in the UK and around the world. Origin were not only excited to back our ambitions, but refreshingly upfront that they needed to become greener and the steps they have already taken were really positive.”

Greg wants to “democratise energy for everyone” and the company is young and ambitious. In addition to the global expansion plans, there’s a new electric vehicle arm, offering lease cars, charging options and special tariffs. But have there been offers that he’s turned down because they don’t sit well with the Octopus ethos? “Loads of them. We are a business and we have to be pragmatic, but my question is always – would I offer this to my gran? Would our customers love it? Does this deepen our mission, or does it distract from it? If something doesn’t sit well within those three questions, then I will walk away.”

Written by Lucy Willcock, Freelance Writer, Kin Marketing.

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