Stephen Brewer eyes return to Irish mobile market

As chief executive of Eircell in the late 1990s, Stephen Brewer was to the forefront of the country’s nascent mobile revolution.

Now, 15 years after stepping down from the role and with stints at Vodafone and Digicel under his belt since, the UK native is back in Ireland with his sights set on some major projects.

His first steps back into the Irish tech scene came a few years back when he teamed up with Enterprise Ireland, which sought to put his experience and expertise to use on both sides of the Irish Sea.

“The last four or five years I’ve been doing work both in the UK and here for Enterprise Ireland and they introduced me to relevant companies in software, mobile, telecoms and I try to help them build markets, particularly in the UK but also beyond that as well.

“Obviously the UK is a great market because it’s English speaking and just across the pond so I can help them go there,” Brewer says.

One of those relevant companies was iMob Media, the location-based digital marketing startup he joined as chairman.

Having announced a significant partnership with Three in the Irish Examiner at the beginning of the week, it’s been a productive visit to Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress for iMob and the future looks bright.

“iMob Media was one of those [companies]... We deal with brands like Guinness and Audi and Coca-Cola and so on. It helps get your messages to the right customers.

“It’s an interesting project and I think the software development, particularly in the telecoms world in Ireland is world class.”

Not alone have his roles with Enterprise Ireland and iMob given him a new direction professionally, it has also rekindled his love for Ireland — so much so that he has chosen to live here.

“My wife is Irish and I’ve been coming backwards and forwards here for the last 20 years and decided now to come and live here.

“I also have a little boy and I think the education in Ireland is world-class and we will settle here and have my son educated here and it’s just another step in my love of Ireland.”

For a guy who, along with his late brother Michael, sold almost all his earthly possessions to fly to New York and twist Steve Jobs’ arm into letting his company be the first distributor of Apple products in the UK, Brewer has a track record when it comes to peering into the future.

With so much competition in the mobile market at present, he says the operators that differentiate themselves from the rest will be the ones to come out on top.

To do that customer service will have to play a big part.

“Customer service is coming back in a big way,” he says. “As markets get saturated hanging onto that customer, managing them in the right products and services: that’s what it’s all about.

“The companies that do that best are the ones that are going to win and Three are demonstrating that very well indeed.”

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