Her.ie Speaks To Children's Book Publisher Gail Condon Of Writing For Tiny
Meet Ireland's newest children's publisher.
When Gail Condon started her business Writing for Tiny, she successfully applied for a place in the AIB Start-Up Academy.
Now, one year later, Gail tells us about her AIB Start-Up Academy experience, the story behind her business and much more.
Can you tell me a bit about Writing for Tiny?
We are a children's book publisher. We make highly personalised books about changes, worries and milestones.
What motivated you to start the business?
My work with children. I have a huge interest in children's autonomy and their rights. That, tied with a love of writing children's stories and illustration and a desire to be my own boss really spurred me on.
What was your experience with children’s publishing prior to starting up your own business?
No experience whatsoever. My background is nursing, I specialised in paediatric nursing. I also studied speech and language therapy.
While working, as a nurse as well as studying for my second degree in Trinity, I started to use my drawings and stories to engage with my young patients. Whether it was to help them to understand their condition or to distract them from a painful procedure, I would make a personalised little story.
It really worked. Both the children and their parents loved it. I then brought my idea to Trinity and it was accepted into Launchbox, which is a student incubator. It just took off from there really.
What has been your biggest barrier in starting out on your own?
Just that, being on my own. I was used to working within a supportive multidisciplinary team, so it was tough. At the same time, I thrived as I always wanted to have more control over my career.
There was new software to build, stories to write and draw and a brand to create. I did it all more or less on my own (bar the software coding!) for nearly a year, whilst pregnant.
Now my issue is that I find it hard to delegate. Every step has had its own challenges. Everyone sees the shiny side to being an entrepreneur, but as people behind start-ups know, it is all down to seriously hard work.
What prompted you to apply for the AIB Start-Up Academy?
I had attended a startup academy in the Dublin and I was impressed by the buzz and the sense of community. The prize was obviously a huge factor too. The ten weeks were such an amazing experience. It was a great start to 2015.
What were you hoping to learn from the AIB Start-Up Academy ahead of starting?
I think you learn a great deal from mentors, but probably more from other start-ups. I was inspired by them all. My colleague Jenny was afraid of me after the Monday sessions because I had 100 new ideas and was super motivated!
How would you describe the pitching experience?
Great! It was a competitive process, so you're obviously nervous. The judges were tough but fair. They asked relevant questions and gave me a real opportunity to showcase Writing for Tiny.
What was the highlight of the AIB Start-Up Academy for you?
Again, probably meeting the other ten start-ups. We all clicked. Every week was different. We were in the Irish Times building with an amazing view, it felt like we were a part of something very exciting.
How will you use the information and experience to stand out from market competitors?
We are very different to our competitors, we are far more than the average personalised children's book. We specialise in books about changes, worries and milestones. We also personalise our stories more than anyone else on the market. Our ethos is to encourage inclusion, communication and independent thinking.
The start of 2015, inclusive of the time in the AIB Start-Up Academy was the time when we really pinpointed what we do. I went on the secure funding from Enterprise Ireland and won Best Start-Up and Best Young Entrepreneur in Cork this year. This has been a really exciting year of growth for us. We have new titles and products coming out all the time and we are selling across the world.
How has being an AIB Start-Up Academy finalist helped your business?
The media coverage was amazing. The mentors were top notch and I made great connections.
Have you had many mentors? What has been their greatest advice/ words of guidance?
Yes I have and I still do. You don't know it all. That said, don't take too much advice! An advisor told me that!
I listen to everyone but I only do what feels right. Everyone tells you what you should be doing, but you know your business best. I really trust my instincts now and know where we are going. Sometimes you can get too much advice and that can lead to confusion. Be true to yourself.
To get more information on the AIB Start-Up Academy, click here.