Tech Innovators 2013: WheelRight

With a FTSE 100 and angel investor career already behind him, it's no surprise that John Catling's WheelRight business is achieving solid growth.

To follow on from our maiden Tech Invest event, we’ve profiled some of the most exciting technology companies in the UK.

GrowthBusiness has now produced a new 2014 version of Tech Innovators, where we have again profiled some of the best technology ventures in the UK through interviews with founding entrepreneurs.



Based in: Oxford

Founded in: 2004

No. of employees: 12

Company founder: John Catling

Founder profile:

John Catling has 20 years of industry experience in the UK and the USA, including as divisional managing director of a £100 million company, and led a £90 million disposal programme. He was an angel investor in and executive chairman of Water Innovate until its sale in 2010. He is a chartered engineer and has an MBA.

Background business profile:

Under-inflated tyres matter – they cost the €2.8 billion annually in wasted fuel and tyres. WheelRight’s Drive-Over tyre-monitoring system provides fleet operators and motorists with immediate tyre pressure, weight and load information. The sensors on the ground transmit the data to the user – nothing is fitted to the vehicle.

Inside track:

An apprenticeship in a corporate background has been a great foundation for what John Catling is trying to do now, the entrepreneur says.

‘As I was involved in disposal programmes, I was exposed to lawyers and accountants and the whole process of selling businesses,’ he adds. 

‘I know what a buyer sees in value when it comes to a business, and at the end of the day it is in the eyes of the beholder.’

Catling had been working for a FTSE 100 company, running his own division and reporting to the group CEO. However, when the business was acquired, he decided he wanted a change.

His WheelRright venture is aiming its offering at the cars and lorries which thunder up and down the UK’s motorways, alerting them to when tyres of under-inflated.

Having successfully secured £2.5 million of funding since its inception, grants have also been awarded due to its close proximity with the carbon neutral market.

The next couple of years will be important for WheelRight in terms of partnerships. The business is currently looking to engage with Stagecoach Bus as well as sign up its first HGV fleet customer.

With no European standard for pressure in motion, WheelRight has still managed to get the third party accreditation that is so important. It can then take the statement of accuracy out into the market and provide evidence that its system of measurement is highly accurate.

Another potential revenue stream will be getting its technology into petrol forecourts, where more general consumers will be able to access it without getting their fingers dirty.

Recent milestones:

  • Successfully completed three full-scale trials, one in each key market: bus, HGV and forecourts
  • Secured first paying customer from trial; closing others
  • Maturing opportunity for installations at multiple petrol forecourts in the UK and the rest of the world with global oil major Engagin g with major overseas markets

Upcoming milestones: 

  • Complete accreditation of the system with National Measurements Office
  • Complete demonstration with Stagecoach Bus and convert to customer
  • Complete safety accreditation for petrol forecourts and install system on operational forecourts
  • Secure first HGV fleet customer

Recent technology:

With intensive commercial trials completed, WheelRight is now preparing to install a network of systems in bus/truck depots and on fuel forecourts. The p otential worldwide is 400,000 sites. The company has a growing 1 million tyre pressure database in order to refine algorithms. Research for circumferential tread depth and sidewall inspection has been completed


  • Cambridge Design Partnership
  • Aston, Oxford and Southampton universities
  • Principal outsourced suppliers


  • The founding directors made the first investment in October 2004; in April 2006 other Angels joined
  • In total, Åí2.5 million has been invested, £1.81 million by the founders and £687,000 by other angels
  • Awarded grants from SEEDA, The Carbon Trust and The Technology Strategy Board, which combined with prize awards and tax credits exceed £1 million

See also: 25 of the most exciting fast growing technology companies in the UK

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

Related Topics

Early Stage Funding