Blackcircles founder to help more firms on road to growth

Mike Welch, the founder of online tyre fitter Blackcircles, has teamed up with a corporate lawyer and technology start-up adviser in a bid to help early-stage companies along the road to growth.

From left: Paul Jarman-Williams, Mike Welch and Nick Freer of Full Circle Partners. Picture: Stewart Attwood
From left: Paul Jarman-Williams, Mike Welch and Nick Freer of Full Circle Partners. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Welch, who sold Blackcircles to French giant Michelin in a £50 million deal in 2015, has co-founded Edinburgh-based Full Circle Partners with Paul Jarman-Williams, formerly of corporate law firm Dickson Minto, and public relations specialist Nick Freer.

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“Having gone through the process of engaging with venture capitalists with a view to funding my own business and then ultimately selling it to Michelin, I realised there was a gap in the market for a firm like Full Circle and that was the genesis of what we are announcing today,” said Welch.

“To have guys like Paul and Nick who have been there and done it in legal and PR terms around major M&A deals and funding rounds means we have a breadth of skills in one offering that we know is going to be of great appeal to high growth companies that are planning their next phase of growth including transformational transactions.”

As well as advising Blackcircles on its acquisition by Michelin, Jarman-Williams has worked with Edinburgh-based tech start-up pureLifi around its recent fundraising rounds, and with craft brewer Innis & Gunn on its £2.4m crowdfunding drive.

Freer, who worked for corporate communications agency Maitland in London before setting up his Freer Consultancy, was also an adviser to Blackcircles and handled media relations for travel search giant Skyscanner around the cash injection it received from Silicon Valley investor Sequoia Capital in 2013.

Full Circle Partners will support fledgling firms, working alongside their existing senior management teams and advisers, with the aim of promoting their growth and getting them “investor and exit ready”. It will assist with legal structures, building brand profile through PR and marketing, underpinned by the ability to invest and co-invest in portfolio companies.

Welch left school at 16 to become a tyre fitter in Liverpool and launched his first tyre business in his teens before being headhunted by Kwik Fit and moving to Edinburgh to develop a website for the group. He is also the chair of online fashion outfit Atterley, which aims to help small boutiques increase their sales in the face of tough competition on the high street and internet, and is a strategic adviser to US tyre retailer SimpleTire.com.