Business Irish

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Former Eircell boss Stephen Brewer teams up with Enterprise Ireland

Stephen Brewer will be working with Enterprise Ireland in an effort to help the growth of Irish companies
Stephen Brewer will be working with Enterprise Ireland in an effort to help the growth of Irish companies
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Former Eircell chief executive Stephen Brewer has moved back to Ireland and is working with Enterprise Ireland to help Irish companies grow.

Brewer, who has also worked for Vodafone and Digicel and secured the UK distribution rights for Apple computers in 1980, told the Sunday Independent that he now wants to centre his life and his business here - "and try and find those companies who have a real desire for growth, who have got a great proposition and understand that nothing happens until you sell something.

"I got involved in Enterprise Ireland in the UK and, using that method back in Ireland, I want to help these companies find new markets, give them the introductions to the right people and coach them, mentor them into being able to knock on that door and walk in with confidence with a proposition that actually can mean something to even the largest companies.

"Ireland, in particular, has a lot of young, would-be entrepreneurs who are smart with software, telecoms, all sorts of things. It's just a wonderful phenomenon of Ireland.

"My main love is helping either start-ups or companies which have reached a plateau in growth and are asking, 'Where do we go next? How do we grow?'"

There is a mentality of 'build it and they will come'. Well, they don't always come. You have to go out there and knock on a few doors, meet the right people and get the right introductions and go in with a proposition that has got some legs."

Eircell - an offshoot of Telecom Eireann (later Eircom) went from having 100,000 customers to over one million in Brewer's time in charge. After the company had been bought by Vodafone, he went to work for that company in the UK.

He said Eircom's rebrand as Eir was overdue.

"I'm glad they have done it. It is a fundamental part of the Irish structure. It's something to love or hate. It will always be in competition with all of the smaller people." He said the company now had to focus on managing the value of its customers and selling to the right people.

Brewer described Apple founder Steve Jobs as a "tremendous guy".

"When I first met him, he was wandering around in jeans and sandals and bare feet and whatever. But I recognised in him what he was and became even bigger and better at. That is a visionary. He recognised in me a passionate human being who was full of energy and ideas to sell things.

"One of the times I remember with Steve Jobs particularly was when I went to California and saw the first six Macintosh prototypes, with pull-down menus. It was mindblowing. And he said, 'Stephen, go and sell these in the UK.'

"He gave one to every educational establishment in California, which he could afford to do. We had to sell all ours in the UK, but it was a great success and, strangely, it went all the way round to mobile phones.

"So my circle of life has been computers, through to the mobile phones, which are now converging in such amazing ways."

Sunday Indo Business

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