Dated: 16 January 2009
Mersey Tycoon wins double Dragon prize at BT Entrepreneur Awards
Michael Welch, managing director of Internet tyre retailer BlackCircles.com, saw his venture named as one of 20 winners at the BT Business Essence of the Entrepreneur awards, which celebrates the achievements of UK entrepreneurs who have succeeded with the help of technology.
Mr Welch, 30, also held off competition from thousands of candidates to win the Most Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year award – and a £20,000 business grant - at the annual event, which features TV business expert Peter Jones as its head judge.
This latest accolade marks another successful chapter for Mr Welch, who left school aged 15 to work as a tyre fitter, before setting up his own mail order business in Garston. He was then poached by Edinburgh-based Kwik Fit as their business and e-commerce manager by the tender age of 21.
Two years later, he decided to go it alone and founded BlackCircles.com, which allows customers to buy tyres online or by phone and have them fitted by a network of more than one thousand independent garages. BlackCircles.com is now the fastest growing UK tyres retailer, and is expanding into European markets including France, Italy and Germany.
From its headquarters in the Scottish borders town of Peebles, Mr Welch has overseen the development of a company that now boasts more than 300,000 customers and sales of more than £10m.
Mr Welch says: “This is a very important competition as it demonstrates that British businesses are surviving, and indeed thriving, in spite of the current economic climate. To be recognised among the top 20 entrepreneurs is so encouraging for myself and the team as it confirms that we are continuing to build a stand-out business and using the latest technological developments to our direct benefit.”
He added “Being named as Most Outstanding Entrepreneur is undoubtedly the icing on the cake and we look forward to reinvesting the business grant alongside our existing development strategy.”
A unique feature of the BT Business award is that Welch and members of his BlackCircles.com team have been captured in a portrait by renowned photographer Rankin, to be displayed at London’s gallery@oxo from January 29.
The competition is now in its third year and other categories include Best Male, Best Female, Most Outstanding Business Concept and Best Young Entrepreneur.