Staying afloat

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Entrepreneur Andrew Regan tells FQ Business how it was sink or swim for him and his young family as they set out on a long, yet rewarding journey.

Where did the inspiration for Konfidence come from?
I always harboured ambitions of having my own business and at the time was bored in my job. Critically, I had a tangible idea with real merit that I couldn’t see being knocked down.

The idea came to Andrew Regan when his three lads were proving quite a handful in the water on holiday in Cornwall. The eld est two refused armbands so they tried lifejackets with wetsuits underneath. After a while this became uncomfortable and Andrew found the perfect combination

Why is it so important that children are around water from a young age?
The name of the company refers to the child having the confidence to play in the water and the parent to have the confidence that they will stay afloat. It’s a life skill and the sooner you can get kids used to it the better.

How difficult was it to relocate the family to Cornwall?
It was not as difficult as it sounds. The factory was down in Bodmin and we had been down there many times on holiday so none of the kids saw it as a problem, quite the reverse in fact. It has been a fantastic environment to bring the kids up in and I can be at Heathrow in 3.5 hours.

How did you find juggling a young family and a budding business?
It worked out okay. It meant I could work from home so I could get involved with family life and work when they were asleep. My wife has always been incredibly supportive, when I needed to work, she took them off.

Did you see leaving your steady earning job as a big risk?
For the first two years I effectively ran two businesses as I bought myself a white van to deliver stuff to bring in income while trying to convince people that Konfidence was a great idea. Without a massive loan or personal wealth you need a steady income to pay the bills.

Did you have any time for yourself?
Not really, I played rugby until I was 32 but snapped my achilles just as I was about to start the business. I coached while my kids went up through the club too. We occasionally got up to coast for a bit of surfing or bodyboarding but in truth the business is so flat out that there is little time for anything else.

How did you survive the recession?
Luckily for us people continued having children and everyone wants the best for their kids so while it’s not recession proof, it is insulated in a way. People would live off baked beans to allow their kids to eat properly.

Did you test the products on your kids?
Absolutely! They’ve tried it all and done the modelling too!

How they started in tough times

If we look back over the last few decades, we can find inspiration and hope from well known brands that started, survived and thrived in an economic downturn…

How They Started in ToughTimes (Crimson Publishing: 17February, 2010) tells the inspirational stories of remarkable businesses that bloomed in a downturn.

Written by serial entrepreneur David Lester, How They Started in Tough Times features 25 well- known businesses including Moonpig, LinkedIn, Specsavers and Penguin.

Based on research and direct interviews, David reveals the story behind the UK’s top businesses – how they started up in tough times; the struggles they faced; the opportunities they grasped and how they became the huge successes that they are today…

“Businesses that handle crises well, not only survive, but often thrive” says David Lester.

“The smart companies featured in How They Started in Tough Times have profited from the new opportunities that economic uncertainty has presented. The book celebrates innovation and aims to provide inspiration and encouragement to other entrepreneurs struggling in the current economic climate”.

Anyone who wants to start a business or who is already running a business, big or small, can learn a thing or two from the brilliant business minds featured in this timely book!

How They Started in Tough Times by David Lester (Crimson Publishing) is available to buy from and all good bookshops.