At Flying Start Games, we design and source educational games to help parents give their children a flying start. The games are sold at school fairs and through a website. I’m Nicky Edwards, I’m 44 and I live in Northumberland with my husband and our 2 girls, Clare and Kate, who are now 7 and 5. Prior to starting Flying Start Games, I was a full time mum to Clare and Kate, and before that I was a primary school teacher. And prior to that, in what seems a lifetime ago, I was in the Royal Air Force. The transition from full-time mum to running Flying Start Games came very naturally as my ‘light bulb’ moment came as both my girls started school. I work when they are at school, and in the evenings. The girls do enjoy playing their part in the business, though. They feature in all the publicity literature and the website and love counting up all my hard-earned dosh when I come back from a sale. They are also my harshest critics when it comes to testing out ideas for new games.
This is my first foray into the world of business, and it all started when my elder daughter’s Reception teacher sent her home with a pile of laminated words to learn. When asked what to do with the words, she suggested we make them into a game of pairs or bingo or some such, so I made a little game for my daughter. She played it, enjoyed it and learnt the words, and so we passed it on to some of her friends, who also liked it. Spurred on by the warm reception, I started selling the games at my daughter’s school with 10% of sales going to the PTA. I carried out some market research with parents of young children and the results showed that parents welcome guidance on how to support their child’s learning in the home environment.
Flying Start Games has been funded in part through a grant from the North East Enterprise Investment Centre, which I have topped up with a small amount of cash from my father’s estate. Just hope he thinks I’m spending my inheritance wisely! I think he would, although he’s probably lifting an eyebrow Up There, and thinking, ‘Nicky? An entrepreneur? Who’d’ve thought it?’
My biggest challenge so far is marketing and SEO as it is all so new to me. The Mumsclub website has been a great support, and Antonia’s well-thumbed ‘Mumpreneur Guide’ has become a bit of a Bible for me. At a local level, I am very keen to get head teachers on board so that they can see how the games can help to build a strong home-school partnership. I offer a 10% Donation Scheme to schools’ PTAs, for which a school can register through my website. One of my greatest successes is my whiteboards. I have now had them made with our little purple aeroplane zooming across the bottom, and they are proving very popular with young customers. My girls have even been known to do their homework on them: we take a photo of it and stick it in the book.
Nuggets of advice for anyone wanting to pursue their inner entrepreneur? Believe passionately in what you sell. But make sure this matches with what people want to buy! Have a clear aim, will to succeed, guts to go ahead and make things happen to take things forward… Other people will help get things off the ground, but they haven’t got their heart, soul, money and everything else invested in your business like you have, so it’s down to you!
To see what we sell, visit us at www.flyingstartgames.co.uk, and we’ll give away a free Fish Number Line, together with tips on how to use it, with all orders placed before 1 March 2010. In addition, why don’t you suggest that your child’s school signs up for our 10% Donation Scheme where we’ll donate 10% of sales from their school to their PTA?