Getting To Know You: Chris Maclean, CEO & co-counder, Open Energy Market

What do you currently do?

I am the co-founder and CEO of Open Energy Market. Open Energy Market has brought innovation through technology into the commercial energy buying process. We’ve re-defined how large businesses buy and manage their energy contracts by introducing a transparent, efficient and cost-effective platform.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I worked in the industry for many years, prior to Open Energy Market, and experienced first hand the huge operational inefficiencies that plagued every process which were somehow considered “acceptable.”

As I watched other industries go through technological updates (insurance, flights, domestic energy even), I thought someone would come in with something new and exciting, but it never happened. So I decided to bite the bullet myself.

To put context behind the archaic inefficiency I’m talking about, faxes were still the preferred method of communicating signed energy contracts up until just a few years ago.

What defines your way of doing business?

Our CTO once told me “nothing’s impossible, it may take time, but we can build it” – he was referring to building new functionality within our sector, not time travel! However, that kind of defines our approach; we don’t let our creativity become limited by our perception of what’s possible, both technically and within the current industry structure. We’re always pushing ourselves and the business to find and build a better way.

Who do you admire?

I admire lots of people, no corporate idols though I’m afraid. I admire and am inspired by our team, we have a great team. I admire anyone who shows courage (however big), courage to admit you’re wrong, courage to confront uncertainty or the courage of your convictions, there’s so many forms but it’s such a great attribute.

Mostly though, I admire my wife, who has supported me throughout and more recently has had 3 babies to look after while I’ve been off trying to run a business. An incredible feat from an incredible person!

Looking back, is there anything you would of done differently?

Nothing significant. I’ve made a lot of bad choices, but they’re what help shape future decisions. Everything has a knock-on effect, even the bad stuff tends to lead to positives and I wouldn’t want to change them.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Some slightly controversial ones here possibly…

Don’t chase the cash! It will blind your decision making. Obviously, you need it, you need to consider it and you need to act quickly, but, the cash will come if you’ve got a credible product or offering, focus on building that. Take too many shortcuts or spin too many yarns and you’ll end up unable to scale and a flash in the pan.

Trust your instinct and use your common sense. I’ve made a point of not embracing “how to” books or business biographies. I believe there are too many variables in this world to try and apply a strict science to building a business. Oddly I’ve always feared my judgement would be clouded by what Facebook, Virgin, Apple etc did 10 years ago rather than enhanced. I’ve always believed in approaching business decisions with an open mind, applying common sense and then trusting your instinct.

Breathe it in, enjoy it. Yes it’s as stressful as hell, your hair’s going grey and you can barely pay yourself, but it’s also your life, more than just a job, you’ve got to enjoy the ride. Celebrate the minor wins, they’re more frequent than the major ones and it will keep you sane!