Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Julie Austin, Inventor of swiggies

Julie Austin is a California based entrepreneur who is running multiple businesses including an international business based on her invention, swiggies. Having just completed a half-marathon I see the benefits of these mobile wrist water bottles for runners as well as families on the go.  BPA-Free and approved by Child Safe International as a safe, green product swiggies has also received numerous distinctions including Best Product from Creative Child Magazine for creativity and innovation. 

Introducing Julie, CEO of HydroSport, and the woman behind this innovative brand.

Julie Austin of swiggies
Tell us about your business and target market
swiggies, wrist water bottles are patented and trademarked hands-free water bottles for adults and kids. They were a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are sold in over 20 countries. They won the Toyman award for innovation and quality, voted on by the consumer. They are sold in retail and the promotional products industry.

When did you decide it was the right time to take the leap into self-employment?
I was planning to license the product in the beginning, but after months of contracts going back and forth and the deal falling through (company I was working with went bankrupt) I ended up having to do it all myself.

What is the most challenging aspect about being an entrepreneur?
Having enough hours in a day to get everything done. Since I run 3 businesses there is never enough time.

What is your #1 tip for balancing work and family?
Unfortunately I don't have a lot of balance right now and no family (except 2 rescue dogs). The good thing is that I love what I do, so that helps. I try to incorporate an extra day into my schedule when I travel to other places to do a speaking engagement. I'll rent a car and go exploring for the day.

What small business resource(s) can you NOT live without?
I would say social media. It keeps me connected to other business owners and constant information.

What advice would you give to a friend who was thinking about starting a business?
Start with no money. It's the best way to challenge yourself to be creative and learn mistakes without spending a lot of money.

Favorite social media site?
Linked In.

What book has been an inspiration to you as an entrepreneur?
Rich Dad/Poor Dad - The section on cash flow quadrant really opened my eyes.

When you’re not working, what is your favorite activity?
Wow, I really had to think about that one. I guess the last time I did anything that didn't involve work was when I went bowling. Now that you got me thinking, I would say hiking, shooting pool, and going to movies. Okay, I really need to take a day off.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
One of the reasons I'm working so hard now is because I want to get all of my businesses to the point that they can run themselves without me. I have over 20 swiggies distributors around the world and they do basically run on their own. I also have a couple of licensing deals. Some day I'd either like to sell the business or license more divisions.

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