Belfast Telegraph

Invest NI backed bike firm Jyrobike leaves behind £720,000 debts

By John Mulgrew

A Co Down-based firm backed by taxpayers' money, which looked set to revolutionise how children learn to ride a bike, left behind debts of more than £720,000 - a year after going bust.

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

But the business entered administration a year ago.

It now has debts to 26 creditors, along with £155,000 of taxpayers' money owed to Invest NI.

The latest update from the administrator covers the period from January to June this year, and confirms the administration is set to continue.

The company also owes more than £22,000 to HMRC in taxes.

And to date, it's received claims from a total of 26 creditors. That amount adds up to more than £690,000.

Part of that includes a claim from Rob Bodill for £95,000, following his successful tribunal case against the company he co-founded.

In September last year, the Belfast Telegraph revealed Mr Bodill won an industrial tribunal case for unfair dismissal after he was removed from his company.

Founded by Australian Rob Bodill and business partner Dana Hoffer, the concept uses balance technology to teach children to ride a bicycle in a single afternoon.

The business was brought to Northern Ireland in 2013 and was based in Holywood. It carried out a globally successful funding campaign.

Jyrobike used Kickstarter to raise the necessary funds to get the business up-and-running, and raised $185,000 (£120,000) in the space of just 30 days.

The business came out of an idea in the US.

It was one of the most successful children's product campaigns on the crowd-funding website.

Among the larger debts the company has includes almost £78,000 owed to a product design firm, PDD Group Ltd, which is based in London.

And it also owes more than £15,000 to Belfast-based legal firm Murgitroyd & Company.

Law firm A&L Goodbody is also owed more than £23,000.

Jyrobike had operated a base at the Pavillions Office Park in Holywood, but also had a registered office in Cambridge.

Mr 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.

However, Mr Bodill was removed as a director of the company.

He subsequently took a case, and won for unfair dismissal.

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 was part of the Halo network of investors at the Northern Ireland Science Park and was a co-founder of fit-out firm Mivan.

A default judgment from Mr Bodill's case against Jyrobike Ltd late last year 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".

The Jyrobike concept was invented at Dartmouth Engineering College in New Hampshire. The team discovered that at 14km an hour a bike will stabilise itself using natural forces.

Belfast Telegraph