Imagine trying to live up to the kind of entrepreneurial legacy Jere Thompson Jr.—whose grandfather Joe Thompson started the iconic 7-Eleven chain in 1927—faces every day when he heads to work. But the younger Thompson has been establishing an impressive track record of his own, most recently by building a company that sells electricity and natural gas in the deregulated energy markets. The company doesn’t actually produce or deliver energy. Rather, it buys power at wholesale prices and resells it to customers acquired through a direct sales channel. That process is powered by an army of some 70,000 independent agents, who get paid to sign up new customers and other agents.