It’s now a very long time ago since I started building an energy price comparison calculator in the bedroom of my flat in Balham. I started with lots of tariff sheets, equations and calculations, a PC I was trying to use as a UNIX server, and lots of nervous phone calls to suppliers. It became one of the UK’s biggest energy switching services.
Jay Manek, my housemate back then, and Paul Green, Jay’s old boss and soon to be our CEO, joined early on and it’s been a team effort ever since.
Now we’re at 5 million switches and £1 billion of customer savings, I thought that it might be a good time to pen a little history of the journey so far:
Nov 2002 After a lot of sleepless nights, Switchandgive (our first brand) launches organising energy switches and donating part of our commission to charity. At first it’s mainly our friends and relations switching. It starts rather slow. Over the next few years the pace starts to pick up and we do thousands of energy switches and donate £1/4 Million to charity. A lot of the conversations back then were about how we appear like a proper company to energy suppliers. How we don’t come across like ‘two chumps in Balham’.
Mar 2003 Our energy price comparison call centre launches (0800 074 0745 if you’d like a comparison). Back then it was five operators based in Worksop in the Midlands now around 100 operators based mainly in Kent. Before we launched the Worksop call centre, it was Jay and I on the home phone! We had a special ring tone for customer calls.
Sep 2003 Launch energyhelpline. We aim to be a friendly, approachable switching site, with loads of deals and a proper ‘First Direct’ style call centre. We start using a new thing called Google to get customers; you may have heard of it. Google proves pretty handy and sales start picking up.
Dec 2003 Martin Lewis (The Money Saving Expert) does a comparison of energy comparison sites. We come top of his analysis (and it’s a proper analysis as anyone who knows Martin will attest – loads of questions, a spreadsheet, the whole works) and so Moneysavingexpert selects energyhelpline as its top pick. We win as we have the broadest range of suppliers for customers to switch to, pay high cashback and have customer friendly processes.
We remain as Moneysavingexpert top pick for the next 10 years.
Early 2004 Paul Green fully joins us and takes over as CEO from me
Aug 2005 100,000 switches organised; £20M of savings to customers
July 2008 Switching boom as many suppliers hike rates 30%. On 30th July we have our record day organising 11,500 switches in one day as people scramble to avoid the hikes.
Aug 2009 We launch The Mail Switching Service with the Daily Mail. Later we become the energy switching partner of choice of the Mirror, Telegraph, Guardian, Express and Comparethemarket plus many others
June 2011 1 Million switches organised; £200M of savings to customers
May 2012 Launch UK’s second ever collective switch named ‘Huge Switch’ (‘Which?’ had done the first one just a month earlier). Since then we have organised another 20 saving customers £100 Million and getting exclusive deals every time
2014 Launch price watch so customers can track prices and choose when to save the most. The computer system looks constantly for you and tells you when you can save a certain amount you set eg. £100 via email.
2016 Supplier numbers boom as the Government tries to get prices down by souping up competition. We sign up lots of them. We now have 30-40 suppliers available to switch to. At the start it was more like ten.
2018 We organise our 1 Millionth green switch. Yay! The total carbon footprint reduction of our customers is around 4 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to planting ½ a million trees – we’re very proud!
Also in 2018 Comparethemarket’s really cool Auto Sergei service launches using energyhelpline‘s price watch technology. You may have seen Sergei fiddling with his computer on the telly.
March 2019 Another landmark! 5 Million switches organised; £1 Billion of savings to customers. We’re pretty proud!
Thanks to all our customers that have used our service over the years. Also the energy suppliers and marketing partners.
Also all the staff and partners along the way. Like Jason, Hannah, Cain and Dimitrios who built the first operational website; Tim and Dave who helped us build the first demos; Jason Ward, sadly no longer with us, who took up the mantle later; and Aamir who then led the tech team for over ten years. Nicola who has led the call centre army for many years and Helene who led the Finance team collecting the money, paying the bills, and making sure we never went bust.
We hope that we’ve had a big, positive impact on the UK energy market.
Here’s to another 5 million switches to make it 10 and lots more green switches too to help the planet.
If you’d like to compare energy prices to see if you can save click here