Danielle Beh, founder of car seat education firm SitTight, talks becoming a child restraint technician and starting a firm to make travelling by road safer for children.
What does your business do?
SitTight is about reducing injuries and deaths in child passengers. How I go about that is by providing training around the use of child restraints and my particular focus is doing that with the vehicle rental industry, helping companies to upskill and train their staff to be sure that all child restraints that are hired out are done so in line with the law.
You used to own a retail store, how did that influence starting Sit Tight?
In 2013 I was looking for a business to buy, it didn't matter what it was, it just had to be something that had the numbers stack up and I felt like I could do every day. I got close to buying a couple of businesses and didn't, and then I came across this little retail store which specialised in high-end children's car seats and so I got stuck into that and that's when I was introduced to the world of car seats; and just realised how little there is in the way of education, information and support for various different audiences.
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I became an NZQA child restraint technician, and started learning about all the different car seats on the market and the variations between them, and I reasonably quickly decided to become a trainer-assessor, training other people to become technicians. Over the five years of owning the shop my knowledge just extended and I realised that there was this industry out there who were hiring out car seats but didn't know how to install them and a red flag went up. So I started to think how I could support this industry and [that's] how my company came about, and I decided to sell the shop and focus on this. The business started in November last year but I had been working on it for a few months before that.
How are you educating the rental vehicle market?
It's pretty much all online. I sold the shop, starting having conversations with rental vehicle companies, asking them about the issues they faced and I realised that, fundamentally, their staff didn't have the knowledge [or know] where to go to get the knowledge so I established an online training programme that could be accessible to all staff.
What other industries or groups are you targeting your training for?
I have written courses, but not yet produced, for new parents, ante-natal classes and midwives, but I'm really focusing on the rental vehicle industry because I've got my minimum viable product out there, I've done my market validation, sold it in so it is earning a revenue and I need to focus on really establishing that well as that's where I can see the initial scope - this doesn't exist anywhere in the world as far as I'm aware, and it is really easily transferred to different organisations. There's scope within New Zealand, within Australia, and potentially in the United States.
What rental companies are using your training resources and how hard has it been getting companies on board?
A really early supporter was Apex, both here and in Australia. We're also working with Wilderness Motorhomes and Thrifty. Getting rental companies on board is quite hard because you are getting in contact with these companies, raising an issue, whereby you are having to explain that there is no legal obligation for these companies to train their staff around the use of child restraints [but] there is an obligation for a company to exercise duty of care. What I say to them is; 'I know this is an issue, but there is a solution to it'.
What's the biggest challenge that you've had to overcome?
Taking the knowledge out of my head and putting it on paper. Because this didn't exist, I didn't have a template to follow - and there's an enormous amount of information about car seats - and put it into some kind of structure and then turn those into video scripts.
Then there are the obvious ones of restricted finances, not having a revenue stream and outgoings being far more than what you've got going in. Another challenge was not having support staff around me. I really enjoyed having staff around me when I had the retail store. It gets quite lonely sometimes as you are in your own head a lot of the time.
What are your long-term plans?
We definitely want to expand into other markets. I've already written a course for Australia as it has different laws and seats. I also want to roll out my New Zealand programme to midwives and new mums mid-next year.
What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?
Be prepared for a rollercoaster; for every day to feel different - one day you get a win and feel on top of the world and it will be 24 hours later and you'll feel like you are standing at the bottom of Mt Everest. Ride those ups and downs, and have blind faith that it'll work.