Posted on January 28, 2020 by staff

How tech changed the image of energy brokers


Outside of staff and property costs, energy is one of the biggest overheads facing business – which is why the role of a broker is so important.

Fixing your energy supply for several years can save or cost the biggest users millions of pounds, depending on fluctuations in the market.

When Joe Warren co-founded London-based ZTP in 2012 he quickly discovered it was a congested marketplace.

“We were your typical, run-of-the-mill, energy broker,” he recalls. “What I mean by that is you’d find a business that uses a significant amount, go to the market providers like British Gas, Npower etc and find their best price. You’d give that to your client and happy days.

“The problem was there were about four billion people trying to do the same thing. It was almost an estate agency-type role. We realised that we needed to kind of differentiate ourselves by building a bit of management software called Trace.”

Because of its investment in technology ZTP is unrecognisable from the 2012 start-up. Today it brings together the latest industry and technological innovations to deliver integrated systems and solutions.

“Trace was all to do with consumption, carbon and cost reporting on their energy,” he says. “Clients were given this portal so they could see their bill, validate it, track their consumption, track their carbon emissions.”

Such was the success of Trace that ZTP attracted interested from larger portfolios, which raised the bar still further.

“With these large portfolios it gave us the opportunity to actually trade their energy rather than just going to the likes of British Gas, Npower and alike and say ‘what’s your best price?’

“Instead you’ve got the ability to go to them and say ‘we agree to all the government levies, taxes, everything else, but rather than rely on your traders we’ll do the trading on the markets ourselves for the actual commodity that is electricity or gas’.”

Warren said it was at that moment that had their own ‘lightbulb’ moment.

The result was that in March 2019 the company launched its revolutionary platform, Kiveev, to digitalise the procurement and management of flex power and gas contracts, using artificial intelligence to allow customers to make more accurate and better informed trading decisions.

In simple terms the violent fluctuations in energy prices made trading it a precarious and potentially costly business.

Explaining how Kiveev came about, Warren said: “We applied for a government grant from Innovate UK that was successful. We then partnered with the University of Kent and had access to their high performance ‘supercomputer’, which is pretty cool. We also had access to professors to help us build risk modelling that is brand new and bespoke to the UK power and gas market.

“The result is Kiveev is one portal that allows clients to make much better trading decisions because they’ve got the most advanced kind of AI risk modelling available. They can make evidence-based decisions to make trades on multi-million pounds.”

Kiveev is aimed at customers who spend a minimum of £3m on energy and has been a game-changer for ZTP, with staff numbers increasing to 34, including four developers. All the growth has been organic with no external investment.

It’s also one of the reasons why the company’s client retention rate is 98 per cent.

However Warren said the technology has also gone a long way to changing the perception of energy brokering generally.

“12 months ago if I’d called up the majority of large energy users in the country they’d have hung up the phone,” he says. “Suddenly, because of Kiveev, we’re offering something that is totally different and these massive brands that we could only have dreamt of talking to 12 months ago are having second meetings with us.

“They want to know more or even better trial it. It’s extremely exciting.”