Meet Gail Condon, the business woman behind Writing for Tiny and AIB Startup Academy graduate.
Writing for Tiny: Our AIB Start-up Academy story
EVER wonder what the catalyst could be to spark a life-changing career move?
In the case of Writing for Tiny founder, Gail Condon, her decision to embark on a career in publishing and technology came in the midst of her then job as a paediatric nurse.
“I’m a paediatric and general nurse and trained in Cork and was working in Crumlin at the time,” she reveals.
“I had always done drawings for patients and it came out of that. It’s such a simple way to distract a child, engage their siblings or explain a procedure.”
“I brought the idea to Trinity and was accepted into their incubator. Then I had my own baby, Rosie, and I kept going.”
A brave and bold move, Gail’s decision to switch careers has paid dividends, with Writing for Tiny winning fans across Ireland and the UK.
“My heart and soul is in creative communication. I think it’s about involving a child in the decision,” she explains. “Children are so literal, they don’t want to be lied to and they know when that’s happening.”
An educational and entertaining set of stories designed specifically for its young readership, Gail reveals that a host of technology goes into the creation of each book.With each book designed for the individual reader, Gail says the stories are a more accurate reflection of the child’s reality than typical children’s tales.
“You pick topics like starting school, or preparing a child for a new sibling. You can then choose any type of family and characters, to have one that most reflects yours,” she explains. "The story is a pre-written template written by me and illustrated by myself and Jenny (Leahy). We spent two years developing software, which allows the books to be really personalised.
“Nobody realises that the books are more technical than any app you use. That’s the coolest thing, we’re undercover coders. We want to evolve and keep classic books and communications around.”
Now moving into the UK market, Gail says feedback has been essential in building the business from scratch. Part of the AIB Start-up Academy earlier this year, she explains: “We definitely evolved a lot when we were in the Academy. The people you’re with are potential customers and they give you feedback that maybe a potential customer couldn’t. I was definitely more honest as well.
“I asked questions I never would have ahead of it. There is an environment of trust. I definitely loved helping other Start-ups and sharing ideas. Feedback is so important. We had a complete pivot early on in the business.” Gail adds: “We started out with just eBooks. We designed the whole system to create eBooks and brought it to a baby fair. And every person there said it would be lovely as a printed book instead.
“We had done all this research beforehand where people had said eBooks were the future, but for parents it turned out that it’s so important to have a printed book. "So that was very useful. We went out early with a model and then we had the opportunity to go back and re-think it.”
Inspired to apply for the Academy after attending one of the AIB Start-up Academy nights, Gail urges aspiring Start-ups to submit their entry.
“I’d say go for it, even if you’re in early stage. It’s worth it, even just to get feedback. You have to get that feedback. Go to the Start-up nights. It’s very inspiring to hear other stories and it’s a great networking opportunity.”
Now graduated from the Academy, Gail is excited about Writing for Tiny’s next steps.
“It was really brave thing to do, to start up a business. And personally doing it with Rosie was hard. I could have said I am going to take my maternity leave with Rosie and go back to shift work as a nurse, in a fine pensionable job. There are pros and cons to life in a Start-up, but being your own boss and being creative is great. So to anyone considering making a move, I say do it, but don’t burn your bridges. If you have a career, keep up to date on what’s happening and keep up to speed on what you studied.”
She adds: “We’ve already started to sell through notonthehighstreet.com, and Etsy and other affiliate sites. We’re already in the UK and in Mothercare Ireland. Once you’re online, you sell all over the whole world. We’re evolving our software and what we can do. I like to think of us as an innovative children’s book publisher so I’m always looking for ways to keep children’s books interesting and cooler.”
Find out more about Gail’s story and her range of products at Writing for Tiny.
Want the opportunity to learn how to grow your Start-up business in the company of like-minded entrepreneurs? Submit your application now for a chance to win a place in the next AIB Start-Up Academy.