Tuesday 15 October 2019

Bertie's man launches device to help parents find lost kids

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

Sarah McCabe

A former advisor to Bertie Ahern is launching a "find your child" device at chemists around the country.

Ken Bogle, brother to Ahern's partner Anna Bogle and former advisor to the ex-Taoiseach, is one half of the duo behind Kooliobandz.

The product, developed by Bogle and business partner Brian Walsh, is an identity wristband that helps parents to locate lost children. A version for finding lost pets and luggage has also been released. The pair have invested €300,000 in the company so far and own it 50:50.

A survey undertaken for Kooliobandz by Empathy Research, polling 656 Irish parents, found that a third had been accidentally separated from children under 10.

The survey found that husbands and male partners were by far the most likely to be separated from their children.

"As parents we are all acutely aware that losing sight of your child, even momentarily in a crowded shopping centre or play area, can be terrifying. The prospect of a child going missing for any length of time is everyone's nightmare" said Walsh.

Anyone finding a lost child wearing Kooliobandz wristband can contact their guardian instantly by inputting the wristband's code onto a website, which will send a secure text message detailing the child's location.

The company has signed a distribution deal with Jaymark, a Johnson company which distributes cosmetics and other goods to pharmacies and supermarkets. The device is stocked in 70 chemists and aiming for 400 by the end of March.

Bogle and Walsh are about to ink a distribution deal in the UK with Product Chain, the retail distribution business set up by ex-Waitrose chief executive Lohn Lewis. Bogle and Walsh expect this to move between 1 and 1.5m units within twelve months of closing.

"We could not gain access to the UK via Enterprise Ireland" said Bogle, who was also manager to Olympic boxing star Kenneth Egan as well as an advisor to the ex-Taoiseach. "Their hands are tied; they are very limited in how they can help. There are too many companies on their books. Taxpayers would be better served if they focused on 20 or 30 companies well, rather than 100s."

Mr Ahern is still a close personal friend, he added. "Bertie is Bertie. If I need advice on anything I can speak to him, there are no bells and whistles or silver spoons. Fianna Fail could do with a few up and coming Bertie Aherns today". The former Taoiseach is currently involved in peacekeeping work, he said.

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