EY Entrepreneur of the Year industry category: Michael O’Dwyer, TyreCheck

‘I had a situation in a previous business where we had to downsize. Telling a colleague they no longer had a job was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done’

Michael O'Dwyer of TyreCheck speaks about the importance of moving forward digitally in business. Video: EY


Michael O’Dwyer is the chief executive of TyreCheck, a supplier of business automation, fleet and tyre management, customer relationship management and tyre sales solutions to the global tyre market.

O’Dwyer is an engineering graduate of the University of Limerick. He initially worked with Digital Equipment Corporation in Ireland and Schlumberger Aerospace in the UK as a manufacturing support and process improvement engineer.

He then lived in the US, where he worked for a software solutions provider, delivering enterprise solutions to manufacturing companies, before establishing CIMple Solutions in 1992. He developed CIMple Solutions from a start-up to an internationally operating business on three continents in five years. The company was acquired in 1997 by a German multinational.

O’Dywer founded the Clare-based TyreCheck in 2005, believing that the tyre service market was a prime candidate for a digital revolution.

Three of the world’s top five tyre companies are TyreCheck customers, and the company’s products are used every day in 20 countries. TyreCheck products help tyre resellers optimise the selling and servicing of tyres and tyre-related products to fleets and end users.

The company employees 80 people in Europe and the US, and will be expanding its offices into China in 2016.

What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start up in business? While living in the US I saw some friends follow their dream and get a software business off the ground. The satisfaction for them was palpable, and I guess I had the bug from that moment and was only looking for the right opportunity thereafter.

My first business venture was a paper replacement solution in the semiconductor manufacturing sector. I guess I am redoing this in the tyre industry this time around.

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique. We provide a complete outsourcing of IT solutions for the tyre industry. We deliver our solution in a SaaS (Software as a Service) mode and our revenues are based on monthly subscription per user.

We offer a complete outsourcing model in which the customers have very minimal headcount contribution on their side. This total solution is unique to TyreCheck in this industry.

What is your greatest business achievement to date? Closing the contract with the number-two tyre manufacturer. It is a global deal for five to 10 years, and creates certainty and huge opportunity globally for the company.

This has enabled our expansion plans. We are now the recognised leader globally in our market.

Describe your growth funding path. Initial funding was from Enterprise Ireland and the AIB Seed Capital Fund. We undertook a BES (Business Expansion Scheme) round in 2010 and we have received investment for a trade partner in 2012. We have been profitable since 2012, so self-funding since then.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business? I had a situation in a previous business where we had to downsize. Telling a colleague they no longer had a job was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

How will your market look in three years? Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has finally arrived after 20 years of false starts. This is a game changer for us, and requires all target users to have a digital solution; paper is finally dead.