What makes for a £210 million deal? How George Mountbatten built uSwitch

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George Mountbatten has always been a high-flier. The English aristocrat has had business interests spanning a wide range of sectors, from internet technology to polo equipment to helicopter charters. But who is the man behind one of the most illustrious names in British society?

As the fourth Marquess of Milford Haven, he is a cousin of the current Queen Elizabeth and a businessman of some repute. George Mountbatten’s best known for his involvement in the founding and sale of uSwitch, the UK’s first – and arguably most successful – price comparison website.

uSwitch changed the British energy market

The company hit the UK market in the year 2000, just as the energy market was deregulated by Tony Blair’s Labour government. The idea was that consumers needed flexibility to ensure they were getting value for money from their essential services. This wave of freedom and choice for the everyday consumer created an opportunity for a simple and data-focused way for people to choose their energy suppliers.

The concept was simple. The user would enter the details of their energy usage, taken from their everyday bills, and the website’s algorithm automatically searched all of the deals available to them. If there was a better package on offer, then the customer could select it, enter their details and begin transferring to a new supplier immediately.

George Mountbatten’s team launched their product in a blaze of publicity and it quickly caught the attention of the British public. Every time someone completed their transfer through the website, the energy supplier paid Mountbatten and his team a commission. Thisquicklypushedtheserviceintosignificantprofit and spawned a wealth of competitorsusingthesamemodel.

However, uSwitchwasnot George Mountbatten’sonlysuccessfulcompany at that time. His helicopter charter company, Milford Aviation Services, was formed in 2004 and is still operating today. Althoughthemarquessis no longerinvolved in thebusiness, his 26 yearold son Henry, theEarl of Medina, serves as thecompany’ssole director.

Mountbatten’s regular businesspartner and uSwitchcolleague, VipulAmin, wasalsoinvolved in theearlydays of thechartercompany, butchose to moveintootherinterests in 2006 – itwasa bigyearforeveryoneinvolved in the popular pricecomparisonsite.

George Mountbatten sold uSwitch in 2006

After several years of highly-visible success, uSwitch was getting was getting attention from more than just customers in 2006. A number of high-profile business, including Microsoft, Daily Mail publisher DMGT, credit referencing agency Experian and private equity group Advent International were looking to strike a deal to buy the company. The eventual purchaser was American media firm EW Scripps, for £210 million.

After the sale completed, Vipul Amin and George Mountbatten continued to collaborate on innovative business ideas. For example, their development funding recently propelled emerging market price comparison sites, much like uSwitch, into Turkey and Brazil.

Both Encazip of Turkey and MoneyGuru, based in Sao Paolo, are using the uSwitch model: an easily searchable online database of great deals that consumers can use to save significant amounts of money on their purchase of everyday services. Just like in the UK a decade ago, the idea has been an instant success and further expansion is likely.

More about George Mountbatten

The fourth Marquess was born on the 6 June 1961 and was christened George Ivar Louis Mountbatten. He became the head of his family in April 1970 upon the death of his father and royal matchmaker, David Mountbatten. The younger Mountbatten’s first marriage was to Sarah Georgina Walker (from 1989 to 1996), and he married his current wife, Clare Husted, née Steel, in 1997. He has two children – his heir, Henry Mountbatten – and a daughter, Lady Tatiana Mountbatten. He has a younger brother, Lord Ivar Alexander Michael Mountbatten, who shares the family motto of, ‘In Honour Bound’.