Who wouldn’t want to pay BGE less money if you don’t have to?
It’s a bold thought from Phil Croskey, CEO of Maryland Energy Advisors and part of the team behind PointClickSwitch.com, a web startup that makes it easy for residential consumers to switch energy suppliers. (Can you say freak derecho?)
Croskey, 38, likens PointClickSwitch.com to a Priceline.com of energy suppliers. When fired up, Croskey and the company’s site present users with a list of alternative suppliers, their prices per kilowatt-hour listed alongside the price residents pay at BGE’s rate. To switch suppliers, users click on a Switch Now button next to their preferred supplier, fill out a name and address form, provide their BGE Electric Choice identification number and PointClickSwitch.com takes care of the rest. Also offered is a “concierge service,” where residents snap photos of their electric bills, e-mail them to Croskey’s team, and they find a cheaper electric supplier and make the switch for you.
PointClickSwitch.com is just one part of the umbrella organization Maryland Energy Advisors. It’s the “residential portal” that will become a “national brand,” says Croskey, while the Maryland Energy Advisors moniker is used for dealing with commercial customers in state.
Residential and commercial customers pay nothing to use PointClickSwitch.com, while energy suppliers pay what Croskey calls a performance-based marketing fee, calculated from the number of new customers PointClickSwitch.com sends to each supplier.
“We wanted to create something disruptive in this space … so customers didn’t have to call around to different suppliers to compare prices,” says Croskey.
In a little more than one year’s time, PointClickSwitch.com—licensed by the Maryland Public Service Commission—has attracted about 24 commercial and 800 residential customers. “We have BGE senior executives as our customers,” Croskey says.
The idea for the company was born of a 2010 Baltimore Sun article about energy deregulation—essentially, allowing people a choice of energy suppliers so as to bring down the cost of electricity. (Here’s a good video explanation of energy deregulation.) Croskey, who graduated from Morgan State University in 1997 with a degree in business management, saw this as an opportunity.
Watch Croskey talk about his startup with Nibletz below.
“I had a burning desire to be an entrepreneur,” he says. “Electricity is something you can’t go without. People are going to pay their bill at some point in time.”
In May, PointClickSwitch.com was one of the three companies chosen for the new Wasabi Ventures accelerator at Loyola University Maryland. Tom Kuegler, general partner with Wasabi Ventures, has helped the fledgling company with its marketing and advertising efforts.
“We needed an adviser to our young company,” says Croskey, who lives on campus at the SEED School of Maryland, where his wife is the principal. “It’s been a great marriage thus far.”
Right now, PointClickSwitch.com is live in Maryland and Chicago, Ill., although the team is in the midst of raising capital in order to expand into other energy deregulated markets. In Maryland alone, of roughly 1.2 billion BGE customers, almost 400,000 households have switched energy suppliers.
“We’re trying to get just 10 percent of that,” Croskey says. “We’d be a $2 million company.”