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Armed with tech and user engagement Barry challenges the industry: “Consumers don’t need commodities, they need energy.”

@rasmus

With a fully digitalised and intuitive user experience, big data and smart electricity meters Barry wants to empower consumers to take control of their electricity consumption.

Few people think about their energy company as long as the light is still on. A fact that, to a degree serves, as a sign that the energy market has not seen the same amount of consumer-centric innovation that others industries have undergone. The new energy supplier, Barry, wants to change that.  

The startup wants to take advantage of the smart electricity meters, which private households in the Nordics have had installed in recent years. The new meters register consumption digitally and allow suppliers real-time readings. Barry wants to use that to create a more engaging experience, where consumers gain insights and control over their spending. At the same time, they price the energy at purchasing price.

“Instead of hiding bills and costs, we want to offer our customers transparency. Consumers need a better understanding of what they are paying for and how the market works, in that regard it possible to create smarter consumers,” says Marius Heier, Head of Product at Barry, and continues:

“Today’s market is dominated by large companies, which are primarily driven by telemarketing. Our stronghold is technology, which gives consumers new and flexible opportunities while lowering our operating costs. We are trying to learn as much as we can about the market so we can create a product, which is different than what is already out there,” Heier says.

Barry just opened for signups for the company’s beta which will be live in July.

Electricity by the hour

Marius Heier

In Denmark, it is possible to see the hourly rate from the supplier. Barry wants to use that to their advantage at the core of their business.

“Instead of sending a quarterly bill with a fixed Kilowatt price we want to make it possible to pay by the hour with a price that reflects what the electricity costs at the time when it is used. What is special about that model is that electricity at times is free. What you pay for are transport and charges, but the electricity is free,” Heier highlights.

That is how Barry will offer customers the lowest possible price at all times. A byproduct of that effort – they hope – could be that consumers could gain awareness of how and when they use electricity.

“In theory, our consumers pay a fee to ‘borrow’ our license to buy electricity at market price, and it happens in a way, where everything is digitised and fully automatic. We hope that the model will make the experience more transparent and clear. Concretely, it will entail that we don’t make more money than our customers consume,” Heier says.

More than a commodity

When a market is digitised three times often happen: prices go down, speed is increased and the quality of service is improved. All three touch base with the consumer directly and it is at that point where Barry wants to differentiate itself from the competition.

“Consumers don’t need energy companies. They the raw ressources – the energy. There needs to be flexible and easy access to the electricity – or the commodity if you want. We know that we can offer that since we build our tech-based solution from the bottom up that makes the consumer’s life easier,” Heier says.

If you ask Tune Hein, who is an expert in change management, the electricity delivery market is ripe for revolution when it comes to the relationship between consumers and suppliers.

“Generally, the commodities market is ready for disruption. As of now, consumers are not prone to change supplier – because electricity is not at the forefront of their minds,” says Tune Hein.

We still consider electricity as a commodity. According to Tune Hein, the most efficient way to disrupt such markets is to either dump prices – as we have seen in the telecom sector – or by adding new value and experience to the commodity – if it is already priced correctly.  

In other words: If Barry is successful in turning electricity consumption into “something more” that consumers consciously choose either through more control or insights into their consumption that could make a difference for society – then they stand a chance to change the market.

Telemarketing must never be the answer

Barry’s software was recently approved, and the startup is working to attain their license as an electricity supplier so they can launch their MVP by July. In the beginning, it will be a fully digitised solution with a transparent overview of energy consumption and the market price. However, they have even more powerful technology hidden in their sleeve, and they aim to launch that later this year.

“We are hard at work on a solution, where customers can interact with their consumption. In the future, our app will explain why consumption and prices rise in the early evening and how they can save money by doing their laundry little later. Simple and specific insights that could benefit the consumer and make them feel in control,” Heier says.

Barry plans to build multiple functions on top of their core solution. In the future consumers could receive notifications when electricity is cheap, buying green certificates, integration with smart home solutions or charging of the electric car that only goes on when the power is cheap.

Marius and the rest of the team have the vision to open the ecosystem up for third-party developers to allow consumers to create a tailormade solution with specific “add-ons”.

“We don’t want to attract customers through telemarketing. We want to attract them with our unique vision and a strong product, which will create value for them,” Heier says.

For those who cannot wait Barry opened up for beta signups here.

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