Shapers: Simon Rogerson and Chris Hulatt
Simon studied at St Andrews University “mainly to play golf”, graduating with a first class MA in Modern Languages. He was an analyst at Mercury Asset Management between 1997-2000, eventually becoming the head of pharmaceutical and biotechnology in its global equity team.
Since 2011, Simon has been an adviser for The Entrepreneurs Network, a think tank for aspirational entrepreneurs and owners of fast growing businesses.
Christopher Hulatt has a first class MA in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University. He led one of the Global Equity sector research teams at Mercury Asset Management before founding Octopus Group with Simon Rogerson and Guy Myles (who left the business in 2014). He is a director at the company, responsible for its financial strategy and opportunities to expand the company’s activities.
In 2000, Simon (CEO) and Chris (Director) founded Octopus, a multi-sector Group working in the healthcare property, energy, property finance and investment industries. The Group manages over £7bn of assets for more than 50,000 retail and institutional investors, as well as supplying energy to more than 100,000 customers. The Group has over 500 employees.
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CH: “We set up in my lounge, we had one laptop, one phone line and a copy of the yellow pages. We certainly didn’t have any fancy business plan but we did have a vision and a dream.”
SR: “People say, why did you leave Mercury? At the time we were 23 and 25 – the really honest answer is naivety”.
SR: “I’m not quite sure I believe entrepreneurs when they say right at the very beginning of the journey, ‘ it was all panned out beautifully’, it doesn’t normally work like that.”
CH: “Raising the money to start a business back then was phenomenally difficult. It took us pretty much a whole year to raise a couple of million pounds to capitalise the business to give us money to start to pay rent.”
SR: “If you ask people what they care about in life, most people will answer the same things – they’ll say family, friendship, their health, and they’ll probably say security because they’re too polite to say the word money.”
SR: “I think the industry and customers are crying out for change and it’s going to happen… I think in energy the customers have had enough. They’ve had enough of the practices of the big six, they want change, they’re demanding change. It is happening.”
CH: “If you’re determined enough, you’ve got the right vision, you’ve got the hard work, you think about the customer first, then there’s no limit to what people can achieve.”
SR: “So, advice to entrepreneurs: never ever hire somebody who doesn’t share your values. We made that mistake in the early days of Octopus and we’ll never make it again.”
CH: “There’s a lot to be done, there’s a massive opportunity and if we can all go in the same direction, we can share the same values, the same culture within the business – that relentless focus on the customer, then…together we can achieve great things over the coming years.”
CH: “I think that’s what any entrepreneur would want to be able to say about their business – that they love what they do and they really believe in where it’s going.”