Episode 10

What's Next with Dan Bates

We speak to Dan Bates, Founder and CEO of Rebel Energy about launching a new breed of energy supplier in the UK. Dan's mission with Rebel Energy is to address inequality and the climate crisis with a startup that addresses 3 mega trends in the energy industry:

1. Global Regulatory Changes. This can be seen in the USA's renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement, many countries and businesses commitment to carbon neutrality by the middle of the century and the upcoming COP26 UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow, Scotland later this year.

2.Technology Changes. With advancements in wind, solar and tidal energy generation and the huge shift over to electric vehicles.

3. Consumer Changes. Consumers are seeking more ethical businesses, exploring choices and placing money into companies that they trust.

Dan also discusses the UK startup culture that has enabled challenger, 'disrupter' businesses to flourish with many traditional barriers disappearing.

ABOUT DAN BATES

Dan is the CEO and founder of Rebel Energy, a supplier of energy to UK households.  Rebel Energy is built around a social mission to provide affordable clean energy.  Dan has a desire to make a difference in society and show that big business can be good business.  Prior to founding Rebel Energy, Dan spent over 15 years at BP in a variety of senior leadership roles.

ABOUT REBEL ENERGY

Rebel Energy is a new breed of energy supplier, providing clean energy to households in the UK at an affordable price. Rebel’s on a mission to address inequality and combat the climate crisis with a benevolent mindset. Rebel with a cause, energy with a difference.

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Transcript
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- [Dan] It's me Karim, and everyone else listening.

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My name is Dan Bates.

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I'm the co-founder of Rebel Energy,

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which is a UK energy supplier to domestic homes.

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We're a new breed of clean energy suppliers

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where we're aiming to address inequality

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and provide easy access to affordable, clean energy.

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And we're going to do that, we pretty much see

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that with our nimble customer focused model.

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We really believe will be well-placed

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as a major player in the market.

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And we're looking to launch in the next couple of months.

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- [Karim] Well, congratulations on that then.

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- [Dan] Thank you, Karim.

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- [Karim] So when I first was introduced to you,

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I saw the name, I saw the company name.

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I said, oh wow.

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A new energy drink company has entered the marketplace.

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And then I read more.

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I go, Oh, this is an actual energy company.

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So I know you, you have many years in

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in traditional energy in, in the UK.

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Before I ask you a little bit about that,

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you know tell me more about Rebel Energy

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and your goal to be able to,

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you know bring to the British marketplace

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the ability for consumers to access--

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to easily access clean and affordable energy.

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- [Dan] Yeah, so we, we see a great opportunity

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in the UK space but I mean,

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he goes, I mean, every household in the UK,

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every household in any country needs energy.

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So you're ready.

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Everyone needs energy, need to get it somehow.

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And we see a great opportunity to come in

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and do change the-- turn the model on its head.

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We very much talk about energy and clean energy.

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And, you know, that's a all across the world about that.

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We know that's important, but actually, how do we make sure

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that everyone can access this clean energy

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and it's energy transition, which is happening?

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How can everyone be able to access electric vehicles?

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How can everyone be able to take advantage of

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Solar panels etc.

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So we see a real good opportunity to come into the UK

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perhaps other territories at some point, and provide access

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for everyone to come in and be able to

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to take advantage of all these exciting things which happen

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in the energy space.

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Now for us, it's starting to get the customers

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and then let's take the customers

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on that journey and starting to provide them

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with services to enable them to take advantage of that.

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So we see ourselves as initially an energy supplier.

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However, we see our journey going

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into becoming an energy services provider.

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And what do we mean by that?

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It means that we're able to buy these goods

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and services to enable people, as I said,

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to access the energy markets and in an affordable way.

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- [Karim] I mentioned a little while ago

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that you spent a number of years

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at a traditional energy company, 15 plus years.

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- [Dan] Yep.

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- [Karim] Why did you decide to start all over again

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from scratch, cause my understanding is

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that your previous employer was starting to

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make that sort of transition.

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- [Dan] Yeah. And that's a great, great question.

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I think firstly, I've always had that bug

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in me or desire to set up a company and do something.

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So I saw it as a great opportunity to do that.

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And I spent 15, 16 years, as you said

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at one of these sort of major global energy companies

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and I'm grateful for the time I spent there.

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However, I felt after being there for so long,

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I needed to change.

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And it's also, I think it's an interesting

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as it talks about this energy transition

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I just mentioned is there's a fundamental change happening.

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There's three mega trends hitting this energy market

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and the energy in it globally.

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One of them is regulatory change.

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So this is to drive to a low carbon world

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to address the climate crisis.

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And we've seen that with Joe Biden coming in

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signing back up to the Paris agreement.

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And then there is, we've got this big COP26,

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which is all which is hopefully a inflection point

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in the drive to address this climate crisis we're facing.

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The second piece is technology change.

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And we've seen that new forms of energy generation

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especially wind and solar are starting to

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come much more prevalent in society.

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For example, in the UK

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we've seen coal generation effectively be completely

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replaced by wind and that's happening over

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all around the world where all of a sudden you've got wind

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and solar being some of the most economic forms

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of energy generation these in the stack.

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And we, when we see the rise

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of electric vehicles and if we can have a debate

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when's that going to happen or not going to happen?

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My personal view is it's one of those hockey

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stick things is it's taken a while to get there,

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but all of a sudden we'll see this huge uptake

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in electric vehicles.

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And then the third piece is the consumer change.

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So again, this other mega trend, which you see

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and that's based, I think we can see it now much more

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in the post and pre COVID world.

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So the pre COVID world, it was the Greta's of this world.

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And all the student protest is about wanting to

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address this climate crisis, renewable energy

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get rid of fossil fuels.

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Post COVID world, that is a given.

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And I think the next thing is around the ethical brands.

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Now, as I saw these mega trends

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could I've done that in the old company?

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My, my personal view was the pace of change about

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was too slow for my liking.

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And also we could debate as well is,

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you know whether it's too hard for a leopard

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to change it's spots for example.

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However, I also saw the winners in this energy transition,

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so you, so we've got seismic changes happening

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in this energy markets.

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And whenever in any industry we've seen seismic changes

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you've seen small companies emerge and the old guard to go

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whether that's Nokia being replaced by Apple, for example.

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Whether that's Kodak going and even the emergence

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of Amazon to address the old retailers.

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So, whenever we see an industry

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which have gone through these huge mega trends.

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We've always seen the old guard, not only existing.

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And I, energies not going to go away.

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We still need energy,

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but I saw a real good opportunity then to come in

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and just do something to take what I've learned

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in that company.

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And I learned a lot and to build on that

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and just go and do something different.

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- [Karim] So tell we, we have many listeners

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of this podcast in the UK, but as a Canadian

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I'm really fascinated by, by this.

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Tell me about, I don't know if it's a business culture

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in the UK that enables and empowers you to

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to develop an energy startup, you know, as

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as Canadian, I mean, this is just, this doesn't happen.

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- [Dan] Well, I think there's

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two things I think on a bigger picture

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there's a great environment for startups in the UK.

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So over the last, especially over the last five years

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we've seen a real wave of FinTech companies

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emerge from the UK.

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So you might've heard of Monzo, Revolut, et cetera.

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And what's been incredible

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as you start to see the UK getting a reputation

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as being a great place to start businesses.

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Obviously the US Silicon Valley, you know, effectively

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we've seen that replicate by FinTech.

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So there's a great opportunity,

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an investment opportunity and community

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and access to capital than probably ever has been.

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So I think there's that

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sort of bigger macro piece to do that.

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And then as you look specifically

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at the energy markets in the UK,

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what's actually completely changed is

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we talked about those mega trends,

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but actually also you've seen barriers to entry

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have been completely disappearing in the UK space.

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So regulatory climate is enabled small players to come in

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and access a market. They haven't done before.

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You've got service companies,

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or software companies coming in

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providing off the shelf systems under SAAS contracts.

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So all of a sudden traditional energy companies

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in the UK with big mainframe computers

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or big startup costs, all that goes away.

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And so it's been a real enabled

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lots of a wave of companies come through

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and especially in the energy market in the UK

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we've seen a lot of companies over last five years emerged.

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Now some of those have been successful as companies

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like Octopus Energy, which people may have heard of.

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They've been an extraordinary success over the last four

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or five years, OVO Energy, which has been a bit around

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for a bit longer, again, similar, obviously there's

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as any startup business, some have fallen by the wayside.

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But there's this great opportunity to come in.

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And what can also, what generally happens

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in the UK as well is as a rough rule of thumb

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that the new startup companies,

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their cost to serve is far lower.

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So it could be a lot more cost competitive

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versus some of the big, bigger companies and some

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of the legacy companies, energy companies in the UK.

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So, I think as you say, startup culture in

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in the UK is obviously helping that

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but also specifically in the energy market.

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It's really enabled those barriers ventures to come

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down for the likes of Rebel Energy, to come in.

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- [Karim] What makes rebel energy different

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than the established companies?

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You know, other than, you know

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you've got the big established ones

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but then you also have other startups that you've

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mentioned already, what makes rebel different from both?

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- [Dan] So I think one of the first things is,

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is our positioning.

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So what we're saying, where we've got a social mission

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at our hearts and it provides

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enabling people to have access, everyone have access

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to affordable energy is one of our key things.

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We, will be doing that in lots of different ways

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and we can come on and talk about B-Corp benefit corporation

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while we're doing that and why that's important.

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So I think that's, that's one, one piece.

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The second piece is around how we're sort of approaching

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our sources of energy.

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Now renewable energy is pretty much

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or clean energy is pretty much now a given

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for a lot of companies in the UK.

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We're taking a bit further than that.

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We see it's important, not only to have that

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but actually we want to develop the ability to

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have traceability.

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What I mean by that is we would like to tell our customers

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now this is a journey we need to go on.

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And of course we'd like to say

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to our customers that electron you're using to

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charge your phone is coming from this wind farm

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in the North of England.

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Or if there are plants in the Southwest.

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So for us, it's how can we really drive transparency?

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And, you know, in the market is, is a key thing.

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And then the other one as well is how do we

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manage our cost base?

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So we're using this concept of what we call digital workers.

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What would, what do we mean by that is we're really looking

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at how can we automate routine repetitive tasks?

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It's an energy industry.

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It doesn't matter you've got one customer,

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or millions of customers, your processes

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are pretty much exactly the same.

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Industry standardized, but they're quite manual

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involved lots of human intervention.

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So we're really, really looking around how can we

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use robotic process automation to speed some of that up.

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And it just free up our people to think

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and also to free up our people to help our customers.

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- [Karim] That's amazing.

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You mentioned B Corp.

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Tell me a little bit about, you know

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what that is and why this designation

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this pending designation that you have is

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is important to, to Rebel Energy.

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- [Dan] Yeah, so B Corp movement is something

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which is really gaining traction globally.

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So what is B Corp?

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B Corp is a as a, I guess the best way to describe it

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as an independent assessment or an, or a set

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of standards companies sign up to say, actually we recognize

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that a role of the companies is not just profits.

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We have a responsibility

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to the wider world for wider stakeholders

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for our customers, for our employees, for the environment

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for third parties, for our communities you're working.

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So not just shareholders, so very much the mandate

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of most companies is the profit for shareholders.

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This says shareholders are so important.

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They have to be because you have to make money

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to do this good stuff.

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However, you also need to take into account

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all these other areas which are impacting.

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And for us B Corp means that we can be held to account

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to our higher standard.

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So it's not one of these ones where we might say

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we intend to do X, Y, and Z.

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Now, then that, that means could we do it

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or could we not do it?

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And we could drop it or stuff,

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but under the B Corp piece,

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we've got B standards which you need to meet,

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and you're regularly assessed to make sure you're doing it.

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But it's also a journey,

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and B Corp peers a real growing community.

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So from the likes of star small startups like ourselves

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Rebel Energy, actually to well known companies and brands.

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So the likes of Dannon, The Body Shop,

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Guardian Newspapers, Ben and Jerry's are just some examples

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of companies which have gone down its roots.

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And it's really, for us we really see it as it helps us

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to differentiate ourselves.

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But also it's a framework to constantly look

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across all areas of our business

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to ensure that we're doing good.

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And actually research, it shows that customers favorite

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brands are strong ethical principles and ethically driven

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consumer brands are growing faster than

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in their markets and respect to markets

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and then any other type of companies they compete against.

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So, there's a real opportunity here

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to not only to do the right thing,

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but actually to recognize it a standard

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which people combine to.

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- [Karim] Yeah, this is an interesting journey that

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that you're going on right now with, with Rebel Energy Dan.

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Thank you so much for, for your time.

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I really appreciate it today.

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- [Dan] Thanks Karim. I really enjoyed the chat today.

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- [Lady's Voice] How are you advertising?

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working with Active International,

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enables you to fund your advertising.

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Using your company's own products, assets,

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or even services.

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We have over 30 years experience,

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connecting and bringing value to businesses

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all over the globe.

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Helping many brands scale up into household names

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on to achieve more from your marketing spend.

About the Podcast

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What's Next
Big Ideas and Innovative thoughts on the future of Marketing, Media, Advertising and more!

About your host

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Karim Kanji

We all need to be thinking about and preparing for What’s Next in order to achieve more - and that’s what this podcast is all about.

We are seeking to gain a more diverse perspective on what will shape the future of marketing & advertising, one 15-minute conversation at a time.

We are excited to share talks Karim will be having with thinkers around the world. If you’re as curious as us about What’s Next, join me and invest 15 minutes of your day exploring big ideas and innovative thoughts.


ABOUT KARIM

Karim has been successfully podcasting since 2010. First with the ‘Social Media Show’ and then the popular ‘Welcome with Karim Kanji podcast’ and a co-hosted show with Gregg Tilston, ‘Welcome to The Music’.

2021 sees Karim launching this new show ‘What’s Next’ with support from Active International where Karim is currently the Director of Emerging and Social Media.

In his role within the advertising and marketing industry, Karim has worked with brands such as Popeyes Canada, Melitta, Ricola, 3M Canada, eOne, Nikon Canada, Jamieson Vitamins, Mark’s, LG Electronics Canada, Muskoka Brewery, Post Cereals, Nestle Canada, Dell Canada, GE Canada, Scotiabank, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Microsoft Canada, and many others.