At Tech City News, we’re always keen to shine a light on those who make up the UK’s thriving technology community.
This week, we spoke with Amit Gudka, co-founder of Bulb, a tech-enabled energy supplier.
Gudka talked about the biggest misconceptions people have about startups, his regrets and the ‘inspiring’ London startup community.
Q: Where did the idea for Bulb come from?
My co-founder Hayden and I were both working in the energy industry and saw people getting a terrible deal with sky high prices and awful service. We didn’t think that was right. We also didn’t think that renewable energy should be a luxury product, which it was at the time. We decided to fix these problems by starting Bulb, a technology-led supplier that gives people a choice in energy they’ve haven’t had before: fast and reliable service, low prices and, of course, 100% renewable electricity.
Q: What’s your background? What were you doing before?
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I was an energy trader at Barclays for eight years, focused on European gas and electricity markets. I was exposed to all sides of the industry from Big Six suppliers to new entrants and large-scale to independent generators. This gave me an in-depth understanding of the industry and showed me the inefficiency of much of the trading activity that took place on many of the large suppliers’ trading desks.
Q: What has been the most challenging part about setting up your company?
Keeping things simple. Traditionally, the UX for energy customers has been complex and opaque. We knew our whole online experience needed to be simple, clear and easy to use. However, simplicity and clarity do not come easily. We’re proud of what we’ve built. But we’re continually using new technology to improve our online experience and automate our operations for faster, better service.
Q: What would you say are the biggest misconceptions people have about working in a startup and how do they differ from reality?
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In my experience, one of the biggest misconceptions about tech startups is that they’re all about the money. At Bulb, we’re proud to be part of the growing Tech For Good movement. We’re very clear that we want to build a high growth, market leading business but we also hold ourselves to rigorous social and environmental impact standards. We were certified as a B Corp last year which means we’re committed to a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.
Q: What’s been your proudest moment, so far?
When we launched our “Give £50, Get £50” referral program last year! It was an amazing moment to start seeing Bulb members spreading the word about renewable energy and switching their family and friends to Bulb. It felt great to know we were rewarding our members for helping grow the business alongside saving people money and making a difference.
Q: Have you had any mentors along the way, if so, what have they helped with?
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There are too many to mention them all! Hayden and I have been really inspired by the generosity of former colleagues at Bain and Barclays and the London startup community as a whole. Working from Second Home for the last two years has also been a huge catalyst for Bulb. We’re constantly exposed to new and exciting ideas for how we deliver our service to members. We also learn a huge amount from the Bulb team on a daily basis, which makes going to work very exciting. I would also give a special shout-out to Nikhil Shah, co-founder of Mixcloud. He’s an old friend whose guidance gave us the confidence to initially make the leap and launch Bulb, and has been a constant source of encouragement since.
Q: Do you have any regrets?
There are always things that you think you could have done better or made a different choice. For example maybe we stayed in beta-phase for longer than we needed to be. In general though, there are very few regrets – launching Bulb feels like one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Q: What’s your top advice for any budding tech entrepreneurs out there?
Get as much advice as you can from people you trust. We felt really lucky to be able to talk such a talented pool of friends, family and former colleagues when we were starting out. And we still benefit massively from a number of key advisors who provide guidance and hold us to account on everything we do. These people are instrumental in helping us achieve our mission to reshape the energy industry on behalf of the consumer.
If you want to learn more about Bulb, check out our feature on how technology is helping to make property greener. The article first appeared on edition 12 of Tech City News’ popular print magazine, which focused on PropTech. If you’d like to subscribe to receive our upcoming HealthTech magazine, do so here.