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Former Jyrobike boss wins case over unfair dismissal

Exclusive by John Mulgrew

Published 23/09/2015

Rob Bodill, co-founder of Jyrobike
Rob Bodill, co-founder of Jyrobike

A former company director has won his case for unfair dismissal after he was removed from his company, Jyrobike, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Holywood-based Jyrobike had aimed to re-invent the wheel, allowing young children to learn how to cycle and balance on their bike without the aid of stabilisers.

The business - which entered administration in July - was founded by Australian Rob Bodill and business partner Dana Hoffer.

But Mr Bodill was removed as a director of the company.

Until HNH Group was appointed administrators, the firm also counted prominent Northern Ireland businessman Paul Carson, former chief executive of wind energy firm Simple Power, and Mervyn McCall as its directors.

Mr McCall is part of the Halo network of investors at the Northern Ireland Science Park and was a co-founder of fit-out firm Mivan. Jyrobike was set up in Co Down in 2013 but now owes more than £500,000 to unsecured creditors, according to Companies House.

Now, a default judgment from Robert Bodill's Industrial Tribunal case against Jyrobike Ltd has said a series of claims, including his "unfair dismissal," was "well-founded".

It was also "well-founded" in its wage claims and holiday pay claims. The default judgment said "the respondent does not intend to resist these claims".

There will now be a remedies hearing in Belfast this morning to determine possible compensation.

The business was brought to Northern Ireland in 2013, and based in Holywood.

Jyrobike was brought into Northern Ireland with assistance from Invest NI.

Meanwhile, in a statement of proposals by administrators HNH, the report said the only preferential creditors listed are "former employees of the company for unpaid wages and holiday pay". Administrators HNH did not wish to comment on the case.

According to the list of creditors so far, the company owes £557,000 to dozens of businesses.

They include law firm A&L Goodbody, which is owed more than £23,000. And Invest NI is also listed and is owed more than £154,000.

The business also owes £22,000 to HMRC. And in the report, it also proposes appointing "an agent to undertake an extensive marketing campaign, and realise the company's intellectual property rights".

Jyrobike first got its wheels in motion thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. It raised $185,000 (£120,000) in the space of just 30 days, making it was one of the most successful children's product campaigns on the crowd-funding website.

The concept came out of an idea in the US, with Jyrobike setting up shop in Northern Ireland in November 2013. It had operated a base at the Pavillions Office Park in Holywood, but also had a registered office in Cambridge.

Rob Bodill developed the product after travelling to the US in search of new technology - there he found Jyrobike and was offered the chance to buy the firm.

It was invented by students at Dartmouth Engineering College.


The amount of money Jyrobike owes to unsecured creditors

Belfast Telegraph

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