2003 - Michael Welch (Blackcircles.com)
Since Michael Welch won the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2003, he hasn’t looked back and his company Blackcircles.com is now widely regarded as the market leader in the UK tyre retailing industry. Looking back Michael tells us a little about himself and his past and what winning the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award did for his business.
With nearly two years experience of running Blackcircles.com Michael decided to apply for our award. Blackcircles.com was already turning over £3m a year in 2003 so the reasons behind applying for the award were more than just the £10,000 on offer. The main reason that drove Michael was the coverage that he knew would come with award. "I knew just by entering the awards the exposure to the business would increase dramatically. That kind of coverage was invaluable during the early stage of the business."
Upon winning the award, Michael used the cash to reinvest in his staff. The extra money allowed the company to create new positions in the company and provide further training for current employees. As a result of this, Blackcircles.com became more streamlined and had 'specific staff to fill expert roles'.
Along with the money, Michael found winning the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award opened several doors for him through networking opportunities including ‘the priceless chance of being able to pick the brains of some of the UK’s top business talent'.
Michael also found that the award gave him and his business much needed credibility, something that is often hard to come by for young entrepreneurs. He says that having an affiliation with an organisation that carries the kind of influence that Shell LiveWIRE does suddenly makes all those doubters sit up and take notice. They start to trust you more.
Since winning the award, Blackcircles.com has grown seven fold, pulling in revenue in excess of £22m per year and has seen staff numbers rise to 45. On a personal level, Michael was also awarded the ‘BT Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year’ award in 2008.
Michael has plans to make even bigger tracks in the future, and has already branched out into car servicing, offering drivers servicing at up to 60 percent less than main dealers. Michael says that other new services will follow, and international expansion has also begun, with the business operating profitably in eight European countries.
Why would Michael recommend today’s young entrepreneurs enter the award?
"It is by far one of, if not the, best programmes of its kind out there. The company profile and media spin off opportunities are so key in your future success. This is because it really helps to put your name out there - reaching people that you might have struggled to reach before."
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To find out more about the £10,000 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, please go to our Awards page.