2019 KickStart winner Turtle Pack making a splash across the globe
A revolutionary children’s swimming aid invented in West Lothian is making a splash across the globe.
Former swimming teacher Michael Harkins, 26, created the Turtle Pack Swimming Aid last year after becoming frustrated with other swimming aids that restricted movement in the water.
The product is a turtle-shaped swimming aid worn by the child, allowing them to swim freely. Since launching it has been sold in over 23 countries worldwide.
Harkins eventually launched the Turtle Pack business and its flagship product to the wider public in January after months of hard work behind the scenes involving fundraising and trialling the product.
Harkins recently landed a £10,000 cash injection and £10,000 worth of mentoring from business advisory firm Baldwins after winning their Kickstart Awards, where he had to pitch his business idea in front of a 400-strong business audience.
That investment laid the foundations for the launch of the business, and the Turtle Pack Swimming Aid is now being sold via distributors across the EU, while private sales have also been made in countries such as USA, Australia, Japan, Sweden and Germany.
Harkins has also fielded enquiries from several brands looking to have their names on the product, which would enable him to sell his product to various retail partners.
Plans are also afoot to expand the Turtle Pack Swimming Academy – which is currently based in West Lothian – into other locations across the UK by the summer of 2020.
To help him with the expansion Michael has appointed Ryan Carenduff as Chief Executive Officer, and David Sherman as Chief Marketing Officer, with Michael becoming Chief Technical Officer overseeing the manufacturing side of the business.
“I want Turtle Pack to eventually be one of the leading household names in the learn-to-swim market,” said Michael.
“We have made really strong progress in the first six to seven months of the business’ life – we’ve sold more than 1000 units of the product to date with very limited marketing spend – and with a marketing professional now on board, we are hoping to drive awareness of the product further.
“Without the money from the Baldwins KickStart Awards the business wouldn’t have been able to have launched when it did, so investment is key for us at this moment in time, and we are really close to securing funds from some private investors who can see the long-term potential in the product.
“The support and mentoring we’ve received from the Baldwins team through the Kickstart Awards has been truly invaluable, and has helped to more accurately shape our plans for the coming years.
“We are aiming to have sold around 6,000 units by next summer and have multiple Turtle Pack Swimming Academies open – so we have lots of work and a busy year ahead.”
Fiona Robertson Associate Director from Campbell Dallas who are part of the Baldwins Group, has been advising Michael and the Turtle Pack team during their business journey after he won the Baldwins KickStart Awards in November 2018.
She said: “Turtle Pack has all of the core foundations to become a leader in the swimming industry with the three strands that he has developed in terms of the product, the swim school franchise and third-party licensing opportunities.
“Alongside helping the shareholders to pursue areas of growth and strategic planning, we are also assisting the Company with VAT and tax advice which could have a significant impact on future trading.
“It’s been a pleasure working with the young, dynamic Turtle Pack team and they undoubtedly have an exciting future.”
The Baldwins KickStart Awards are open again this year until August 31 for any 18 to 25-year-olds with a business idea.
For more information about the Baldwins KickStart Awards, and to enter, visit www.baldwinsaccountants.co.uk/kickstart