AN INNOVATIVE children’s swimming aid produced in Livingston is set to hit the market next year after its inventor met a crowdfunding target.
Turtle Pack was created by Livingston-based designer Michael Harkins after becoming frustrated with other restrictive equipment.
The flotation aid, which sits on a child’s back and is modelled on a turtle’s shell, allows children to move freely through the water without bulky equipment such as armbands getting in the way.
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 said his unique invention was inspired by ten years spent as a swimming instructor, adding: “It has 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 and 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.”
He added: “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 on the next steps over the coming months.
He said: “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.”
He added: “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.