A revolutionary children’s swimming aid invented in West Lothian is making a splash across the globe.
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 move freely. Since launching it has been sold in over 23 countries worldwide.
A former swimming instructor, Michael, from Livingston, 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.
Michael 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.
Michael 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 – 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.
Michael said: “I want Turtle Pack to eventually be one of the leading household names in the learn-to-swim market. We have made really strong progress in the first six to seven months of the business’s 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. 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.”