Friday 23 March 2018

My big idea: We use books to 
help young children 
through tough times

Dr Mick Carter and Gail Condon
Dr Mick Carter and Gail Condon

FORMER paediatric nurse Gail Condon (28), originally from Cork, is passionate about helping children communicate. Her company Writing For Tiny makes personalised children's books designed to help parents and children communicate about difficult situations such as moving house or going to hospital.

"I came up with the idea for my business through my work as a children's nurse in Cork University Hospital and Crumlin Children's Hospital. Children often find hospitals very confusing, so I would do personalised drawings for them to distract them and explain what was happening. They really responded to the personalised elements.

"That led to information leaflets, which led to the idea of personalised books.

"In September 2012 I left nursing behind for Trinity College Dublin, where I went to study speech and language therapy. There, my idea was picked up by Trinity incubator programme Launchbox and Writing For Tiny was born.

"The company, set up in April of last year, sells e-books through our website which parents can personalise with their child's details, such as their name, gender and an illustration of the child.

" Six books are currently available, covering six situations that children commonly find frightening or confusing - bad dreams, moving home, starting school, starting Montessori, the arrival of a new baby and going to hospital 
for a procedure.

"At the moment they cost €7 each, down from €10 in a back-to-school offer. Since the recent launch of our new website we have sold about 1,000 units. We tried selling through Amazon but that didn't facilitate the personalisation process, which is what our product is all about.

"Hardback books, made in Ireland, will be available within two months.

In the midst of setting up the company I had my first baby, Rosie. After that the business was accepted for an Enterprise Ireland incubator programme, New Frontiers. We are now based in New Frontiers' Docklands office in Dublin city centre.

"Three people work for the company now - myself and my partner Michael, who is a paediatric doctor, as well as a software developer Phil Ahern. But I own the company outright. I have provided some funding myself, in addition to the start-up funding provided by Trinity and Enterprise Ireland.

"The biggest challenge has been building brand awareness. We have found it difficult to be heard and get our name in front of people on a start-up budget.

"We have responded by taking advantage of social media, which keeps costs down, and are putting together a marketing campaign focused on Christmas shoppers."

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