Published On: Tue, Aug 22nd, 2017

George Mountbatten and the story of the UK’s polo playing consumer champion

It might not be the biggest surprise in the world that one of the important individuals in UK polo is an aristocrat with royal blood. George Mountbatten is a cousin of the Queen and a descendant of Catherine the Great, the Russian monarch.

His business career

But then there is George Mountbatten, uSwitch.com founder and consumer champion. The man who, along with his fellow investors, ushered in a new era of fairness and transparency at the helm of the popular price comparison website, which allowed Brits to save hundreds of pounds on their energy bills by switching provider.

It was a winning concept which he has now taken around the world to countries such as Brazil and Turkey. After it was built up to a position of dominance in the UK market by him, the company was sold for £210 million to the US media giant EW Scripps in 2006.

So with a busy business career, when does George Mountbatten uSwitch.com founder have the chance to play polo? The answer is, regularly – as he is the owner of the UK’s largest polo venue and training facility, Trippetts Farm, situated in Sussex. The site is home to several polo teams, as well as state of the art accommodation for both horses and their grooms.

What happened to George Mountbatten and uSwitch?

Back to uSwitch.com, and it seems George Mountbatten has an enviable knack of choosing the right business move at the right time. While the company came on the scene at the turn of the millennium, just as deregulation laws meant that UK customers were freer to switch energy suppliers, it appears that for the interests of the shareholder group which included George Mountbatten, uSwitch.com was also sold at exactly the right time.

That’s because in the space of six years up until the EW Scripps sale, a host of other price comparison services had jumped on the bandwagon. So, although the business still led the way in terms of being the template for a consumer-friendly, transparent site, there were now many other websites offering a similar service.

Looking at the markets which he tried to unlock with the model, they show similarities with the UK market circa 2000. The Turkish market is itself going through a period following deregulation, and George Mountbatten’s uSwitch style EnCazip Turkey was set up with the full backing of the original founders, also including the likes of UK industrialist Vipul Amin and former PwC corporate financier Andrew Salmon.

The turn of EnCazip

How EnCazip Turkey came about also speaks volumes of the opportunism possessed by George Mountbatten, which doesn’t seem to be typical of an aristocrat born into such comfortable circumstances. A Turkish student living in London for his postgraduate degree was interested to discover that uSwitch.com could save him money on his energy bill, and so he contacted the original founders with the idea of bringing the concept to Turkey.

Not only did they get straight back to him via the LinkedIn social media network, in order to forge the partnership, but he also saw to it that the student and eventual fellow co-founders of EnCazip Turkey received the best training in anticipation of them heading up the new platform. That meant installing them in energy companies around the world so that they picked up an understanding of the market, before returning to Turkey to launch EnCazip.

So next time you deride polo as a sport played by those with more money than sense, consider the man who struck upon a formula which makes money by saving people money.

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