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About Bionic

Bionic is a PE-backed growth company that I joined as Chief Customer Officer, after 20 years in brand, creative and innovation agencies. We’re transforming the business from a white-label call centre for energy switching, to a tech-enabled service that makes it radically easier to run an SME.

At the end of 2019 we rebranded the business (which was previously known as Make It Cheaper) to Bionic to reflect our ‘hybrid’ customer experience that combines digital with world class human service.

Our business is built on amazingly strong relationships with the suppliers that we distribute, and with the partners (like Compare the Market, Just Eat and Starling Bank) for whose customers we provide a switching service. …

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The Arrival ‘green white van’

For the last couple of Decembers I’ve published a list of the most interesting business ideas I discovered that year, so it’s nearly a tradition. Here then is my list for 2019.

As always it’s in no way exhaustive or complete (or in any kind of sensible order), it’s just some ideas that I’ve subjectively found interesting or inspiring. Last year Tom pointed out that it’s very UK/US focussed, and it still is, sorry. It’s also possibly even less complete this year as I left the agency world, so I’ve had less time to spend on social media(!)

This year again the focus is companies who are re-engineering categories around customers and disappearing products inside services. But this year there’s a real focus on ethics — I don’t know if that reflects what’s being created or what I’m noticing? …

Long story short, we shut Albion in April 2019 and I immediately went to work at our last new client, Make It Cheaper.

You’ve never heard of Make It Cheaper, because we had an awful, forgettable name and got the vast majority of our customers from white label partnerships. But MIC is a great fast-growth company with a genuinely amazing culture. In a decade it grew to become the largest energy broker for SMEs.

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The old Make It Cheaper website


People are surprised when I tell them where I am. I think they expected me to turn up at a hot new VC-backed startup, take a trendy role at a tech giant, or to start another agency. …

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A year ago I published a list of the interesting propositions I discovered in 2017, and a few people seemed to like it, so I thought I’d do it again for 2018.

I’ll repeat the same caveat: It’s in no way exhaustive or complete (or in any kind of sensible order); it’s just those new ideas that I’ve subjectively found most interesting, or have found most useful as inspiration or analogy in our work at Albion.

Yet again there’s no VR/AR, barely any AI, and only the choicest crypto/blockchain. I’ve also avoided just listing tens of new d2c brands. …

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After 13 years Albion is moving out of the Tea Building in Shoreditch. So I thought I’d take a quick look back at our time there, what the building has meant to us, and what’s next.


Albion had started a couple of years before, in a shop unit on Great Eastern Street, but had already outgrown it. (Also the landlord threw threw us out for playing music too loud.)

We were one of the first tenants in The Tea Building, and for a long time were one of the few ‘real’ businesses. Next door was a model agency with no models. …

The high street is alive and well in Marple. New openings in my local town — vape spots, cupcake classes, yoga studios — show that shops are becoming places to do stuff as well as buy stuff.

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Stockport’s high street is a 10-minute drive from Marple but couldn’t be more different. Here, the corporate high street struggles to keep the lights on. National chain stores lie empty. Cost-cutting measures have whittled customer service to the bone. Cut-price stock is piled high in huge stores. The contrast between this and Marple is stark, and it’s obvious why.

The big retail locations that are failing are just places to get stuff, not places to do stuff. They’re bad warehouses. …

Despite a decade of hype and billions in funding, fintech is still only used by early adopters. But one startup has finally got the right strategy to crossover to the mainstream — by not trying to be for everyone.

Fintech funding moves into the growth stage

CB Insights recently reported that total fintech funding has hit $77.6bn with 26 ‘unicorn’ companies each valued at over a billion.

As the Fintech Insider podcast discussed the funding is moving from early stage (funding new startups) and into growth stage ‘megarounds’, with Atom Bank having raised £340m in total, and Revolut’s latest round of $250m (after just 3 years!)

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But do any of these businesses yet have the right strategy to actually grow into the mainstream and stand a chance of paying back this investment? …

This a version of a talk I gave at Google Firestarters — a forum for agency strategists — one of four provocations on ‘how the innovation landscape is changing, and how agencies and consultancies are adapting’.

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I’ll argue that innovation practice is maturing, moving from the edge to the core of businesses. But that legacy agencies and consultancies aren’t adapting to this; in fact this evolution is exposing that they have the wrong structure, business model and culture for the modern era. …

I recently did a thing on Twitter…

Retail experiences on the precinct in my small northern town

A few people asked where I was talking about, and if I could document it. So here we are. The town, incidentally, is Marple in Cheshire, east of Manchester, just before the Peak District starts.

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A place to get special cakes made (and to learn how to make special cakes).

There’s a lot of hype around AI and automation destroying jobs, but the first evidence we’ve seen is that it’s enabling humans to stop doing the work of robots, and freeing us to be more human.

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My friend Kate is an accountant. She trained at and used to work at Deloitte. Since returning to work after having children though she’s been self-employed. Most of her business has been helping local businesses with their accounts and especially their tax returns. So why then is she setting them all up on Xero so they can do these tasks themselves?

One answer is because it’s cheaper for her clients to do it that way, and she cares more about her long-term reputation than she does about her short-term earning. The other answer is because it frees her up to play a different role for them. …


Glyn Britton

Leading a customer-led transformation at a PE-backed #SMEtech. Previously CSO at Albion, a business innovation consultancy.

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