Startups Awards Hall of Fame: Turtle Tots

The entrepreneurial mums discuss impressive business growth and how Startups gave their brand credibility and set them apart from the competition

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  • Natasha Mc Gowan

Designed by busy mums, Caroline Sparks and Gabrielle Lixton, Turtle Tots is a swimming programme that follows mums from pregnancy to dealing with toddlerhood.

The now internationally-trademarked service business, which won our Mumpreneur Award in 2013, offers pregnant mums aqua-natal yoga and specialist baby and toddler swimming classes.

Startups got a chance to catch-up with mumpreneurs, Sparks and Lixton, to discuss exceeding growth targets, market expansion and the benefits of just filling out the Startups Award’s entry form for your business. 

What’s happened in the last year since you entered the Startups Awards?

In April this year we celebrated being three years old. We’ve been delighted to be listed in the Startups 100 for three consecutive years, especially having won the Mumpreneur category in the Startups Awards in December 2013.

Our business has exceeded its growth targets and we now have 34 licensees covering one sixth of the UK, and teach over 4,000 customers a week. Our customer numbers since March 2013 have grown by an average of 26% per quarter. We have trademarked in the UK, Australia, America and Ireland and are on the UKTI’s Passport to Export scheme with the aim of launching in Australia and Ireland by the end of our fourth financial year.

What’s been the single biggest highlight for the business since winning?

Not so much a highlight, but when people meet with us about becoming a Turtle Tots licensee or suppliers, most comment on our awards and Startups 100 listing. It adds credibility to our brand, sets us apart from our competition, and certainly attracts licensees and makes them more secure in their decision to join Turtle Tots.

What are you hoping to achieve in the next year or so?

Over the next year we are planning to employ two members of staff; one will have responsibility for the photography/merchandise sectors of our business, and the other will work closely with licensees to help develop their businesses, especially in the first few months. We are implementing web-based CRM software in October, which will pilot at the end of June. This will enable online booking and re-booking, save licensees and their staff considerable administration time, and give us total visibility of each licensee’s and the company’s performance.

What did winning at the Startups Awards mean to you?

We were thrilled to be selected from such a large number of entrants, and by the prestigious panel of judges. Winning the Startups Awards was recognition of our efforts and what we’d achieved since launching Turtle Tots.

Would you recommend entering awards like this?

Entering business awards can seem time consuming, but the process of completing the application form is valuable because it allows you to look at your business objectively, measure what you have achieved, and look forward to your plans and targets – both short and long term. Then if you are fortunate to be a finalist or even a winner, it adds a huge amount of credibility to your brand and is something to promote in marketing.

Stay tuned for more catch-ups from our former Startups Awards winners – and if you think you’ve got what it takes to be a Startups Awards 2014 winner, enter now!

Natasha Mc Gowan

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