Some of us learn by doing. And some learn by the stories others tell. Take8 is a show and tell by entrepreneurs and business leaders. We hope that somewhere inside, you will get an aha moment that will help better equip you for the journey you’re on to build your business.
Meet Narda Ventura, a startup entrepreneur in Jamaica who is creating waves in transforming the “learn to swim” experience into a family experience. She is a participant of the first cohort of the WINCAP (Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean Accelerator Program).
Narda welcomes you to her world describing it as a place everything becomes crystal clear, where fun meets work, confidence is built, water survival skills attained, souls and bodies healed and life is secure. A former Jamaican swimming champion and a serial entrepreneur, Narda parlayed her lover for water into the Jamaican household aquatic brand Acquaworx where families, from infants to adults, connect, bond and find fun, trust, safety and healing in water.
Narda was asked to describe her business and she said:
“Aquaworx is an aquatic programme through which water survival skills are taught, and survival though water is achieved.”
Water Survival Skills – focuses on confidence and survival skills, while teaching formal strokes to toddlers, children and adults. Aquaworx has differentiated itself from the ‘learn to swim’ market by focusing on survival thinking as a key component and swimming competency from a very early age, accepting infants as young as 18 months in the beginner learn to swim classes (Beginner – Kickers). With a demanding market eager to get their babies and infants in the water, Aquaworx is the only programme to offer a Mommy (or Daddy)& Me class, through which the world of aquatics is introduced.
Survival through Water – focuses on prevention and healing, because in water, amazing things happen. It is the perfect environment for expecting mommies to relax, tone and strengthen through the Prenatal Aquatics class; for the physically injured to rehabilitate and recover through Aquatic Rehab and for the mentally tired and stressed to rejuvenate through Ai Chi and Aqua Robics. Water Works!
Join us as Narda takes the 8 to share her experiences as an entrepreneur.
1. What problem are you solving for your customer?
8 of 10 Jamaican parents do not know how to technically swim. Their fear and lack of confidence around water has lead them to desire having swimming competencies taught to their child very early. This market is looking for classes that will provide infants with the individualized attention needed to teach them the necessary skills. Demand is particularly high for infant self-rescue, which teaches infants as young as 6 months old, the ability to float for survival.For the rehabilitating market, physio therapists and patients alike are eager to extend their recovery land-based programmes to water, which offers an environment in which resistance is low, buoyancy is high and hence range of motion is extended leading to progress in recovery.
2. What drew you into this business?
I have been swimming since 6 years old, and started teaching as an assistant to my coach from 15 years old. Water is magnetic to me, it always pulls me back. It’s the place where I can offer the most value. Through water, I created a business.
3. What is unique about your business that gives it a strategic advantage, and can it be copied?
Our approach to teaching children and adults alike is what differentiates our programme. We genuinely love each pair of eyes in front of us, and provide them with the time and space to learn. This is not a swimming factory. We are family. And our customers experience“swimming with Aunty”. It is not a teachableskill. It is more of an experience and connection that is crafted into our culture. It comes from the heart, which makes it harder to replicate.
4. What is your why, the one thing that drives you and keeps you fighting on?
My why is that I know that I can save lives. We don’t just teach swimming, we build confidence, teach skills and save lives.
5. What has been the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur – and how have you dealt with it?
My biggest challenge has been finding out what I don’t know, before I need to know it. I enrolled in WINC, an accelerator programme for female entrepreneurs to help me along this journey.
6. What is the one thing that you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting your business – accnd why?
Document, document, document. The smallest policies, the simplest procedures; document everything to standardize how the products and services are delivered.
7. What is one problem that you currently face, that if resolved could help you to better accomplish your business objectives?
I am currently fundraising to complete training in Infant Self Rescue, where infants as young as 6 months old to children up to 6 years old are taught to self-rescue in water. This programme promises to teach the skills within a 6-week period. The training costs are high and can only be conducted in the USA. If funding for this is raised within the next 3 months and training completed immediately thereafter, it would result in a conservative estimate of 150% increase in clients and revenue within this segment by June 2017.
8. What are three things you would want every new startup to be aware of before they get started in business, and why are these things important to know?
A – Be clear on what you offer; if you don’t know, who will?
B – Know your market; what the competition is offering and to whom. This is the best way to identify gaps and differentiate yourself from the market. This too will help you with your product definition and strategic advantage.
C – Know your clients; what do they want and why. They are the ones you serve. Find their needs and fill it. Stay relevant.
We hope that you found your aha moment.
And to you, Narda: Thank you for stopping by to Take8. Come visit with us again sometime in the future to share your successes and new learning as your business grows and evolves.
A. Cecile Watson is a financial empowerment mentor who helps women lead organizations and women entrepreneurs solve problems strategically, creatively and practically to help them grow, thrive and better serve the world.
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