Budget Energy is Northern Ireland’s only independent supplier of retail, pre-paid electricity. Founded in 2010, Budget Energy is shaping up to be a serious player in the Northern Ireland Market, with a fresh approach to an old industry based on straight forward tariffs with no hidden charges. Proving to be a winning formula, plans are well under way to give the same offering to the Southern Ireland market by year end.
Prior to Budget Energy, Eleanor McEvoy has successfully built and sold two previous businesses to date namely ‘Pembroke Distributors’, a food distribution and vending company which sold in 2001, then ‘Phonecard Warehouse’, a successful reseller of mobile phone top ups which was sold in 2006 with a net turnover of €50 million.
Budget Energy applied for and secured a license to operate within Northern Ireland in December 2010. Having quickly established operations to meet industry requirements, Budget Energy began supplying electricity to customers in July 2011. We supply to both the domestic and commercial markets, and since going live in the market, we have acquired over 30,000 new domestic and commercial customers across the North of Ireland.
Previously, consumers in NI had two choices – Power NI and Airtricity – this resulted in a staid and un-competitive market with two large companies controlling the market and the consumer losing out. Our goal is to be cost effective, competitive and operational in real time bringing much needed consumer choice to the marketplace. All revenues generated by Budget Energy will remain in the province for the benefit of our customers and suppliers.
Budget Energy provides “value for money” electricity to consumers through a combination of competitive pricing and reduced overheads. We believe you should have the information you need to decide on how to best manage your energy bills and therefore we practice a no frills, common sense approach to how we operate.
In order to keep up with growing demand we have had to significantly increase the size of our sales and customer care team. We currently employ 28 full time staff but hope to double this figure by this time next year. It is important for us to support the regional economy by recruiting locally.
Budget Energy has successfully negotiated Power Purchase Agreements to obtain energy from a number of “Anaerobic Digesters” and “Wind Farms” operated by the farming community in Northern Ireland. We plan to continue to actively and aggressively pursue a strategy for “Green Energy”, and our aim is to achieve a threshold of 20% green electricity by the end of 2013.
Budget Energy is proud to have won two prestigious awards since entering the market in 2011, namely the “Ulster Bank Business Achievers Best Business Start Up 2011” (Northern Ireland Regional and National winner). These awards recognised the potential and the strong business plan adopted by Budget Energy.
– ENTREPRENEURIAL INSIGHTS –
What vision prompted you to start-up your business?
We saw a niche in the Northern Ireland market for a competitive, price-controlled company, and had a vision to bring new and fresh ideas to an old-fashioned industry.
What were the best & worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?
Best: “Plan your work, work your plan”. “Success is paper thin – it’s called a balance sheet”.
Worst: To hide information from your bankers. We believe in transparency.
How did you secure your first investment?
We originally started out with an idea, very little money and built it on profits and a small bank overdraft. The business was eventually sold and the capital gain went to start another venture.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
In the past, we had a venture which was under-capitalised and we were in danger of over-trading. This was resolved with the introduction of an institutional investor.
What moment or deal would you identify as the “game changer” for the company?
Taking the company public.
What are the biggest challenges you face now?
One of the biggest challenges involves securing additional finance for the massive growth potential in order to take the company into other markets.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
My greatest achievement was securing a supply license to supply electricity in Northern Ireland.
What top tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today?
As stated above, I would advise to “plan your work, work your plan” and also to have determination.
When making a new hire, what key characteristics do you look for?
Stability and ability.