Virgin Mobile co-founder on his mission to see Britain powered 100% by renewables
Business Leader recently met with Stephen Day, co-founder at Pure Planet.
Pure Planet is a new app-only energy company, supplying homes throughout Great Britain with 100% renewable electricity and 100% carbon offset gas. The company aims to do this at a cost that is much cheaper for consumers.
Can you tell me about your move from telecommunications into the energy sector?
I am one of three co-founders and all of us have a background in telecommunications. Andrew Ralston has got around 25 years’ experience within the sector and Chris Alliott and I have around 20 years’ experience each.
Tom Alexander also works in this business – but is not a co-founder – having cut his teeth in telecommunications too.
Three of us were co-founders of Virgin Mobile for Richard Branson. We floated it on the London Stock Exchange and then we sold it after six years to a company called NTL, which then converted to Virgin Media. Andrew, myself and Tom then went onto Orange.
We then grew Orange and were part of the merger with T-Mobile. Following this we thought that it would be great to apply some of the lessons we had learnt in these large-scale businesses with thousands of customers worldwide, to launch a sustainable business that will make a positive difference.
Pure Planet was then launched.
How have you harnessed technology to establish the business?
Changes in technology are around us all the time across all sectors. If you look at the banking sector, there has been a move towards customers using apps and online services.
Around 50% of the population now use a banking app. In the energy world – Pure Planet was the first app only supplier on the British market. The use of apps has increased dramatically over the last few years. Most major suppliers now have an app they can offer their consumers. That is the direction that the market is moving to.
The distinction between Pure Planet and everybody else is that this is the primary means of the service and we do not have a large call centre for inbound calls – something pretty much everyone else does.
We think that model is fine and has been good for the sector for the last decade or so – but it is not where the future is. It is imperative for companies to try and pioneer and try new things.
We are the first to have an app-only service – but people still need to be able to communicate with problems they are having or to clarify something they have on their bill.
Why did you launch the company?
Pure Planet was launched because of a very simple reason – global warming. As a group of business people that had been working together for years and seeing the world change around us, we decided as a group to do something about it.
We wanted to use our experience in telecommunications, our understanding of how consumer markets work, and our concern for the future of the planet to launch a business with purpose.
Pure Planet also has a very simple aim – we want to see Britain 100% powered by renewables in our lifetime. We cannot keep treating the world in the way in which we have been treating it.
Have you seen more businesses become eco-friendlier?
We have tried to publicise Pure Planet as a modern, mainstream digital company. We are not playing the hard-green card in terms of our marketing – we will leave that to others. There have been some great pioneering companies that have done this across different sectors.
Within the energy market, price is very sensitive. At Pure Planet, we will give you 100% offset gas, and we will do it at a price which is less than a competitor that uses fossil fuels. Why would you pay more to pollute?
30-40% of the market say they want to be green but don’t know what to do. We are communicating to that section of the marketplace now. In terms of businesses behaving ethically – the true bottom line is thinking about the environment and people. My opinion is that companies that are not acting sustainably in the future will not survive – it is as simple as that.