Case study: from zero to Octopus Energy Germany. Why instead of learning to manage a tech team, you should just hire a great one

Octopus Energy is the first energy provider in Germany with a digital-first approach. The company currently supplies renewable power to around 11 000 customers with a business model based on honesty and transparency.

Customers pay a monthly fee of 8 EUR that’s added to a community account that can be accessed anytime via their app. The account balance decreases with energy consumption. The customer receives bonus credit for each day in which there is a surplus of money in the account – meaning that Octopus Energy actually tries to motivate people to spend less energy to the benefit of all.

Octopus Energy was born out of a dream. The dream of Andrew Mack and Ilona Ludewig to make the energy business honest and transparent to the end-user. It was a dream that investors were eager to take a bite of – but that first had to be proven by the market with an MVP….

The problem

The founders were fighting against time, as the European energy sector is highly competitive. They had the business plan and the initial capital to start the project but they didn’t have the technical team to start building it. To beat the clock, they had to work with a ready-made tech team.

The focus of the team was to build a service that’s easy to understand by domestic consumers – a stark difference from any electricity or gas bill we’ve seen before! And they wanted to match that with an effortless digital experience. That’s where our part comes in.

The solution

We were hired to develop the full MVP of Octopus Energy. The process took 9 months and helped the company push a product out quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality.

The solution we developed had to cover a few key requirements. First, as a utility service, it had to be accessible and understandable by a large and diverse group of customers.

Additionally, the solution had to be integrated with a long list of third party systems, based on different technologies. These included payment providers, price comparison systems, contract transfer registries, and community energy systems.

We selected the tech stack to cover all of the points above, but also to easily scale and expand in different countries. It included:

  • Microservices architecture with Azure Service Fabric
  • Azure Web Apps
  • Azure SQL Database
  • Angular and TypeScript
  • .NET Framework

Since the beginning, we have partnered with our good friends Zingasoft. Together we were able to meet the technical challenges on time.

In terms of project management and planning, the work got harder once the initial version of the product was live and in the hands of real customers. The team wanted to incorporate some great feedback we were receiving – which obviously leads to changing priorities and release scope.

We combatted that by relying on the agile mindset. Agile Scrum was the methodology we chose together with the client. 3 years into development, they even decided to hire a professional Scrum Master, to push them further into optimizing their process.

Working with Octopus Energy Germany we have battle tested our Leasing Deal which proved to be a great success. For experienced and goal oriented founders with a clear vision of what to build, sharing the risk and the rewards with the tech team was the incentive which drove the whole team to give their best for the project.

The results

With the support of Obecto and Zingasoft, Octopus Energy launched its MVP in line with the goal they had set – it took just 9 months. 

Now, more than 11 000 end users are Octopus Energy customers, showing that honesty and transparency are key in the utility sector.

We mentioned earlier that Octopus Energy was not just looking for an external provider – they needed a full tech team that they could rely on. In a sense, this means that the results for the client went well beyond the standard “usage and efficiency” metrics for a software solution.

Our technical team provides guidance and serves as a full-scale partner. Even attending business conferences in Germany with the Octopus Energyfounders to answer technical questions from investors and accelerators. In this sense, the founders really did manage to hire a team, an extension to their core crew.

As Andrew Mack, founder of Octopus Energy and now CEO put it:

“I wasn’t looking to outsource our technology development, I was looking to build the best team. And that’s exactly what working with Obecto and Zingasoft enabled us to do. Four years after starting to work together our relationship is still going strong, and we continue to innovate and build the business together.”

The biggest validation was the fact that Octopus Energy bought the company for 15 million pounds – a hefty offer showing the potential of the small independent team.

Join our Octopus Energy Dev team

You will be part of Obecto’s top team with huge ambitions to disrupt this sector and make Octopus Energy the defacto standard for the German energy market.