Michael Harkins of Turtlepack (left)
Turtle pack is a flotation device designed to help children learn to swim effectively while having fun. After already attracting interest, founder Michael Harkins tells BQ why he has entered the product into the Innovation Showcase at Venturefest Scotland 2017.
Describe your business in no more than 100 words:
Turtle Pack is a multi-award-winning swimming aid designed to remove anxiety, build confidence and develop important life skills.
Turtle Pack consists of an easily adjustable neoprene vest with an EVA turtle shell attached to the back. As the child’s confidence and coordination improves, the buoyancy can be easily reduced by removing segments of the shell.
The child’s arms are free so they can swim with no restrictions and provides the correct horizontal body position. The progressional aspect challenges the swimmer to work harder and visually rewards them each time a shell is removed. It’s multi-functional as the removable shells can be used as floats or in games. And, with its creative design, Turtle Pack is fun to use.
How would you describe that to a novice?
Turtle Pack is a turtle shaped swimming aid designed to help children swim better whilst having fun.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Manufacturing has been the biggest challenge to the business. It is expensive, lengthy and time consuming.
What are your biggest professional achievements to date?
Winning the maximum amount in the Scottish Edge Treble (Scottish Edge - £100,000, Wildcard - £10,000 & Young - £10,000).
How do you feel about exhibiting to potentially hundreds of people at Venturefest Scotland?
I would be very comfortable, I have improved my public speaking exponentially since starting my venture through entering many competitions and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Where do you see your company in five years’ time?
Turtle Pack will be the No.1 Learn to Swim product provider in the UK and on the journey to conquer the world. All 5 cartoon characters will have launched each Turtle Pack colour (Green, Pink, Red, Purple and Blue).
We will be trading globally and focusing on growing our brand into other markets e.g. goggles, swim wear, pool toys, educational material, comic books, bath books, games, cartoon series on YouTube, apps and games.
What advice would you give to aspiring innovators?
To be successful you do not need to be intelligent. The only 3 key ingredients you need are passion, resilience & vision.
“You are only confined by the walls you build yourself” – this very powerful quote by Andrew Murphy, teaches us that the only person holding us back from reaching our full potential is ourselves. Therefore, we can either be part of the problem, or choose to be part of the solution.