Revolutionary product for the next generation of swimmers in the final of a National Business Competition

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A revolutionary product for the next generation of swimmers is set to hit the market in early 2019.

Turtle Pack is a swimming aid that sits on a child’s back, and was created by Livingston-based Michael Harkins after becoming frustrated with other restrictive equipment.

Michael launched and successfully met his KickStarter fundraising target last month – selling around 150 products..

The 25-year-old is looking to follow up that investment up by winning the Baldwins KickStart Young Entrepreneur Awards where £20,000 is up for grabs.

Michael has made a shortlist ahead of 30 other entries to present to around 400 people at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Thursday, November 15 – with the winner securing a £10,000 cash injection and £10,000 worth of business mentoring and accountancy advice.

Each runner-up is also guaranteed £5,000 worth of business mentoring and accountancy advice.

Michael’s invention was inspired by ten years spent as a swimming instructor where he showed glimpses of his entrepreneurial talent from when he was 18 years old, after taking charge of swimming lessons for Livingston & District Dolphins Swimming Club at his local leisure centre in Livingston.

Between 2011 and 2014 he transformed the club’s fortunes by boosting membership from 50 swimmers to 250 swimmers, and from one member of staff to 20 members of staff, and the club won the Scottish Swimming School of the Year in 2014.

“The key to attracting children to swim is to make sure that they have fun, and this is a product that does away with arm bands and floats to allow children to move freely through water whilst they’re learning to swim,” said Michael.

“It’s been developed carefully with parents and swimming instructors, and the time I’ve taken to carefully develop the product has paid off after gaining international interest in the product from retailers & distributors. .

“The plan between now and the New Year is to lay the foundations ready for me to fully launch the product online in the New Year.

“The extra investment from Baldwins will contribute to helping me to recruit two people in business development and marketing roles before we go live with the product.

“It’s vital that people know they can buy the product from the word go, so we can grow straight away and at the right pace.”

David Baldwin, Director at Baldwins, is one of the judges that shortlisted Michael’s business idea and will be advising him over the coming months.

He added: “Michael has identified a gap in the market and has a patent on the product, so his business has potential to make a splash right across the country, and who knows, even the world.

“The nature of the product means any child with confidence issues can learn to swim in the water, which in the long-term, means more people than ever will be swimming in the UK.

“2019 will be Michael’s first year as a fully-fledged business man, and I’m looking forward to helping him to grow his business.”