EF’s Entrepreneur of the Year award recognises an experienced entrepreneur "who has shown incredible resilience and strength, particularly this past year, to lead their business to outstanding success through innovation, teamwork and leadership skills".
Whitley Bay-born Mike started his tech career as a software developer, working on projects for the NHS and Strategic Systems Solutions (SSS). He worked with Capgemini on financial services projects including for Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Nomura. He went on to be a founding member of regional tech network Dynamo North East and an early-stage investor in Atom Bank.
Mike co-founded Opencast with Charlie Hoult in 2012 on the back of a vision for a new kind of tech consultancy – a modern, forward-thinking and independent alternative to the traditional corporate model. The pair bootstrapped the business and have built it on the back of revenues from client work. Today Opencast has over 300 permanent staff and operates a hybrid working model from four bases UK wide.
The company works with clients across UK government and global enterprise to design and build user-centred digital and technology solutions with purpose. Opencast works hard to maintain the people-focused culture in keeping with that original founding vision.
Mike said: “I am honoured to have received this award from the Entrepreneurs’ Forum. Winning is testimony to everyone at Opencast and the growth of the business. A massive thanks to everyone who has supported both Charlie and I along the way – and to Charlie himself for his support and partnership over the past decade.
“We’ve always tried to do things differently at Opencast – to work hard and be nice to people, added Mike. "When people said that approach wouldn’t work I knew they were wrong. And when they said you can’t put trust in the values of your company, I knew that was ridiculous. I hope that what we have achieved shows what can be done with the right approach.”
Mike’s Opencast co-founder Charlie Hoult was also named as a finalist in the same award category – recognising his work at Opencast, alongside growing the Hoults Yard Hubs business space, Dynamo North East and London tech recruitment firm Futureheads.
Welcoming Mike’s award win, Charlie said: “It’s always great to gain recognition for growing a business, creating jobs and supporting skills development. Mike is an inspiration to tech folk for how we have grown a business with such breadth and depth, while staying true to our people-centric values and high-quality standards.”
Mike thanked Charlie and congratulated the third award finalist, Steven Rawlingson of Samuel Knight International, as well as thanking law firm Ward Hadaway for their award sponsorship. He also congratulated the other four EF award winners, including a lifetime achievement award for healthcare pioneer Helen McArdle CBE.
Not-for-profit Entrepreneurs’ Forum was founded in 2002 and includes hundreds of North East entrepreneurs among its membership.
Mike is an inspiration to tech folk for how we have grown a business with such breadth and depth, while staying true to our people-centric values and high-quality standards
Opencast is a growing team of specialists who work at the heart of government, global finance, and growth enterprise with a range of technology and digital consultancy services. Our OpenCulture empowers independent-minded people in our mission to do the right thing for our clients, our team and wider society: good teamwork to make life better.
Opencast specialises in developing end-to-end enterprise solutions for government, health and social care providers and global financial services, as well as for renewable energy and regional enterprises.
We provide services in digital architecture, user-centred design, software, digital & technical delivery, DevOps, cloud & platform engineering, and live services support.
Opencast was founded in 2012 by co-chairs Charlie Hoult and Mike O’Brien. It is headquartered at Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne, with our people located nationwide, including in London, Leeds, Edinburgh, York and Manchester.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department of Health and Social Care
Department for Work and Pensions
Government Digital Service
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
Marine Management Organisation
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Justice
NHS Business Services Authority
Financial services and insurance
JP Morgan Chase
Newcastle Building Society
Insure the Box
Offshore and Renewable Energy Catapult
Wind Energy Benchmarking Services