Julian Kardos is the co-founder and managing director of independent online power retailer Electric Kiwi, launched in May 2015.
With no prior experience in the industry, Kardos is unaffected by preconceived notions of how an electricity business should operate. Instead he puts strong emphasis on technology and the customer experience.
The company’s ‘digital first’ approach is informed by his background in large-scale enterprise software development and knowledge of open-source technology.
Electric Kiwi is 100 per cent online, and leverages data from smart meters to create unique value for its customers. With smart devices installed in 70 per cent of urban New Zealand households, Kardos saw opportunity to utilise their usage information and design pricing plans that incentivise off-peak power use.
From this, Kardos conceived the ‘Hour of Power’: a free, off-peak hour of electricity for each customer, every day. The hour occurs at selectable off-peak times - such as 2-3 pm and 10-11pm - and customers are encouraged to shift their discretionary use, such as running the dishwasher or doing the laundry, to that hour.
Wholesale electricity is cheaper during off-peak times, and spreading customer usage more evenly across the day makes best use of New Zealand’s renewable electricity resources.
In addition to the free hour, Electric Kiwi aims to entice customer switching with an online savings calculator on its website. Prospective customers enter recent billing details to work out how much they could save with Electric Kiwi.
More than 8,840 people had used the tool at the time of the entry, showing an average saving of $230 a year.
This prompted another idea from Kardos: the ‘Guaranteed Savings’ initiative. Customers are promised a minimum saving of $200 on their power bill in their first year with Electric Kiwi. The company will credit the difference to an account if the savings goal is not reached.
To share its customer-centric message, Kardos initiated a ‘Refer a Friend’ incentive on the Electric Kiwi website and social media. Existing customers can refer a friend to the company, and both accounts receive a $50 credit.
Electric Kiwi attributes its fast growth to the leadership of Kardos. The company gained 1,278 customers in its first year of operation and has grown from three to 10 employees. Colleagues have remarked on Kardos’ attitude and energy, as well as his ability to build strong customer relationships, backed by trust.
The company aims to be New Zealand’s best value power provider, and the number one independent energy provider in the market. This vision is informed by Kardos’ belief that power can be delivered to Kiwis for less, and that the industry is ripe for disruption by lean, innovative tech companies that do-away with non-essential corporate structures.
The Young Energy Professional of the Year award category is sponsored by ABB