Andrew Salmon might be best known for his lead role in the growth of uSwitch.com, the price comparison website which came to be known as a market pioneer by allowing consumers to compare their gas and electricity tariffs online and consequently helped to bring down gas and electricity prices in the UK. But it could be said that his early roles in the energy industry primed him for success. Namely, positions at EDF Energy and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
For Andrew Salmon, uSwitch.com was a case of being in the right place at the right time, but he also helped to develop a brilliant business model. After the dotcom boom of the 1990s, the late 1990s paved the way for deregulation of the energy market in the UK, with customers now able to switch suppliers more quickly and save themselves a pretty penny on gas and electricity bills in the process.
The uSwitch.com formula was one which was taken up by many competitors in the price comparison market, and soon the competition in the sector was fierce, with the main beneficiary being the end customer. That’s because suppliers were falling over themselves to try and gain customers, offering reductions and special deals in a bid to woo them. Later, the uSwitch.com model was successfully exported by the original uSwitch.com founders to emerging markets like Brazil and Turkey.
Along with his fellow founders at uSwitch.com – George Mountbatten, the Queen’s cousin, and Vipul Amin – Andrew Salmon was able to take uSwitch.com to such a position of strength that it was sold for the sum of £210m to US company EW Scripps.
The early days
So how did Andrew Salmon develop a commercial acumen which allowed him to lead uSwitch to success? His education was certainly geared towards the path he took. Salmon followed an Economics degree at the University of Plymouth with time at the University of York, completing a Masters in Finance and Investment.
One of his first roles after university was as a PricewaterhouseCoopers corporate financier, and this undoubtedly offered him an invaluable insight into the workings of big business. As the lead figure in the sale of uSwitch.com itself, it might be a safe assumption that these negotiating skills began to be honed during Salmon’s spell at PwC.
The EDF idea vault
But the position which seems sure to have inspired the uSwitch.com model the most was Andrew Salmon’s position at EDF Energy; a senior role which he took on before his 30th birthday. As Salmon found new ways of packaging energy products, he was equipped with the ideas that would enable him to spot a gap in the market for uSwitch.com to make its mark. The landscape had changed, and the online sphere offered a compelling alternative to many of the traditional ‘door to door’ type methods of selling energy deals, which were becoming outdated.
Armed with the vital knowledge which he had accrued at EDF, Andrew Salmon teamed up with George Mountbatten and co to form uSwitch.com. Along with the other senior ‘uSwitchers’, Salmon was key to the rapid growth which saw the website come to be seen as the kingpin of utilities price comparison in the UK. Salmon used his contacts to put together a group of high net worth backers which could provide an important financial foundation of support for the firm he continued to lead until a year after its sale.
It might be said that Andrew Salmon’s biggest achievement will be masterminding the rise of uSwitch.com to the point where it was sold for £210m – this was the largest internet deal which had been made in the UK at the time.