Hi Colleen, please tell me about the brains behind Gator.
I’m a mother of 2 toddlers and I survive on very little sleep. My last job was VP in Sales of Foreign Exchange at Credit Suisse. I am crazy about sushi and anything spicy. My favourite way to spend a Sunday is to sit at a pub for hours and hours with friends and talk about nothing.
You have not only created a product that is child friendly, but adds a little piece of mind for parents. What is the story behind Gator Watches?
About 18 months ago, I took my 2 kids to a farm and saw a mother running around frantically looking for her young son. It hit me that I could have been that mum as kids are curious and fast! So, I thought about a product that would keep me connected with my kids and that is how the Gator watch started.
Do you remember your initial reaction when you realised; yes, this concept could be a game changer?
This moment just happened recently. Since I had the idea, I just started doing research and built the business day by day. My key thing was to prove that there was product market fit. Even if parents loved the idea but they were not going to buy it, then I would be back at square one. But after the launch at John Lewis and sales went crazy, I realised…this is going to be big.
You are a woman in tech – what advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs, thinking about getting into the tech industry?
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in when starting a business. You just need to work hard and smart and gain the respect of both men and women in your field. Prove using data and results that what you are doing makes sense.
Are there any plans to introduce other products similar to the Gator watch?
Yes. We are working on a similar wearable but for the senior citizen’s market. This market is double the size of the children’s market and with a far greater lifetime value. There is huge demand for a product like the Gator in this market.
Most entrepreneurs starting out have a lot of challenges ahead of them, especially funding. What are your thoughts on bootstrapping?
I have bootstrapped up to this stage. I have learned to negotiate fiercely and to do a lot of things with the help of friends or to learn quickly myself. I have no fear in asking for help and that is how I think I have come this far with very little money.
How do you relax when you’re not running Gator?
To be really honest, I have very little down time as I have 2 kids, aged 3 and 1. Story time with them is my most relaxing time.
Where can we find Gator?
John Lewis online, Amazon, Bentalls Kingston in store and on our own website at TechSixtyFour
How do you think startups can set themselves apart amid all their competitors?
Keep costs low. The startup world to me sometimes feels like a lot of investments being made but a lot of money also going to trendy office space, cool office furniture and a lot of bean bags. I think whether you are bootstrapping or raised money, you still need to always focus on keeping costs down.
What was the process like from concept to launch?
It was working every day and night. It was forcing myself to go to bed at 2am. It was hitting a lot of brick walls and getting back up again. It was making so many phone calls to so many people to convince them that the idea was worth listening to.
If you could spend a year travelling – where would be your top three places to visit?
Canada – specifically Alberta – that is where I was born and raised.
UK – I would do a road trip all around the UK with my family
Antarctica – I love cold places and penguins
What plans do you have for Gator over the coming 12 months?
I am in the process of raising my first round of funding now and if that is successful, I hope to being selling Gator watches to countries in the EU. I want to expand distribution channels here in the UK and also sell Gator watches to the senior citizen’s market. I hope to hire a few flexible working parents to help me as it is getting a bit out of hand doing this on my own! I am a big support of flexible work for mums and dads because I know exactly how hard it is to balance work and family.