Back for Business: Tom O’Brien, Sprintmodo

Cork native Tom O’Brien’s Sprintmodo helps corporate teams to deliver and track tangible business outcomes.

Cork native Tom O’Brien originally left Ireland in 2008 to take up a sales role with French pharmaceutical firm Servier in London after graduating from UCC’s BPharm degree course.

In 2010 he returned to spend three years with Solvotrin Therapeutics before going back to London to pursue an MBA at London Business School.

“What Sprintmodo wants to be is the go-to company for corporate teams that are looking to deliver more”

He then joined Janssen, the pharmaceutical wing of Johnson & Johnson, and worked in EMEA roles in the corporate tier of ‘big pharma’ across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Tom moved to Dublin with Janssen in 2017 but had been waiting for an opportunity to start his own company.  He founded Sprintmodo in late 2019.

International hub for business

Working in EMEA teams had made Tom aware that Ireland is a great place to do international business. “I was lucky enough to host colleagues in Cork and Dublin for meetings. The positive reactions to Ireland set the meetings up for success before they even began.”  

Sprintmodo helps teams to deliver and track tangible business outcomes. “We do that with our agile SprintActivation process,” Tom explained. “I studied agile ways of working used in the tech space, and I looked at how they could help corporate teams to get more done.”

The idea for Sprintmodo came about through his experience working in big corporate organisations.  “I felt that a lot of team members were frustrated that, while they were getting their day job done, there were always big strategic projects that they weren’t making enough progress on,” he says.

“Sprintmodo helps those teams to take those big strategic priorities and turn them into actionable outcomes. It is a corporate delivery approach that is applicable across all industries.”

Despite launching in the middle of a pandemic – Sprintmodo started trading in July 2020 – business has gone well. High profile clients include Janssen and Pfizer. 2021 has already seen return business from last year. Tom hired his first part-time employee in August, and they adapted easily to providing a fully virtual service.

“Before the pandemic, one of our customers was talking to us about kicking the process off face-to-face with a workshop in Vienna but, of course, that got cancelled. We ran that 100 percent virtually. We used novel technologies that the team hadn’t used before, and they were surprised by how much we were able to get done,” Tom says.

Tom found setting up his business in Ireland straightforward, and he feels that the support agencies here are doing a good job helping budding entrepreneurs. “Back for Business is an exceptional programme that helps start-ups learn from each other, guided by experienced Lead Entrepreneurs. It is a practical approach that gets results. For example, it helped with introductions to people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and that’s been a real benefit,” he says

Tom’s plans for the future include expanding the SprintActivation process offerings, growing the team and building in more analytics to improve the tracking of what teams are delivering. Sprintmodo is also working on a SaaS offering that will help customers to move from insights to action.  

“What Sprintmodo wants to be is the go-to company for corporate teams that are looking to deliver more,” he says.

This is the fourth year of the very successful Back for Business developmental programme, which is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Since the call for applications was launched in mid-December by Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Colm Brophy, TD, there has been great interest in the initiative. To learn more click here

Published: 27 January 2021