We live in a world of big data, but it’s how we use it in our everyday lives that counts. Verv uses energy data to put the power back into your hands.
What is it the company does?
We’ve developed a smart home product, Verv, that uses artificial intelligence to analyse the energy usage and health of a home by reading the electricity signatures of individual appliances. This allows us to let you know if an appliance is working inefficiently or deteriorating, whether you’ve left a device on by accident and of course deliver running costs in real-time.
We’ve also developed a blockchain based peer-to-peer energy trading solution for our smart home product that would improve access to low carbon electricity for those who can’t afford it and optimise electricity prices. This, again, is based on our artificial intelligence technology that can anticipate the supply and demand of energy.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As the CEO and Founder, my role is to create a clear and unifying vision for the company to work towards and develop a working environment that cultivates creativity and innovation.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
After university, I founded a specialist software consultancy called Austin Consultants which uses a graphical programming language called LabVIEW to automate and test large systems, primarily in the engineering and automotive industries.
During this time I worked on multiple projects, acquiring data at extremely high frequencies and disaggregating this data. When I took on an energy consultancy project using this high speed data technology, I realised the extent of what was possible. At this time, one sample of energy data every 30 minutes was considered cutting-edge and what we were doing far exceeded this. This led us to sell our commercial monitoring solutions to Crowne Plaza Group, Dubai Ports and AT&T.
As the technology advanced, it became clear that there was an opportunity to tackle energy at its very core by targeting each individual home and democratising data for consumers in order to generate positive social impact.
At the time, Smart meters were being rolled out across the domestic market but the information they provided was not detailed enough to encourage the long-term behavioural change in the home that would ultimately lead to lower energy bills and increased efficiency. Hence Verv was born.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
In my early days as an entrepreneur, I was managed by Simon Bond at SETsquared who really inspired me. He was always positive and encouraged me to take something good from every experience.
As a leader, I think it’s really important to steer your team in the right direction, giving them the support they need to succeed whilst also giving them the space to grow and learn from their mistakes. Inspiring individuals to be a level above what they think they are is what cultivates career growth and drives forward innovation.
I also think a great leader is someone who is open-minded and both seeks and takes on board all feedback. Whilst taking on board feedback from customers or even competitors can be daunting, it’s this feedback that will inspire the next phase of your development so it’s important to embrace this.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Obtaining investment without a proven track record of having succeeded and exited a company before. This requires a huge amount of time and pressure.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I have a drum kit in my flat and love to take myself away for a good jam session so I can block out the world for a few hours. I also play underwater hockey and football - sport helps me take my mind off things and I enjoy the social aspect of it afterwards as well!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Up to the age of 8 I wanted to be a pro footballer, then I decided I wanted to become a professional computer game player.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Negativity. With problems there are always solutions and I encourage the team to seek these out.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
In five years’ time, we want to see Verv in every home across the UK, putting the power back into the hands of the consumers and lowering the barrier of entry to low carbon energy supplies.”
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Firstly, don’t be too proud to take on advice and mentorship, even from people who could be considered a larger-scale competitor. Learn from them and don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions, this will be key to your growth.
Work the spreadsheet - work out where the value to your business will come from as it may completely change your business priorities.
Finally, take on board all recommendations and use that as guidance to make an informed decision. You can only make a decision with the tools that you have so ensuring you have advice that you trust is key.