Pressie Pouch – funding launching in America

iwoca customer Sharon McGillion has been working to launch her product in the US for 10 years. She tells us her experience of building the business, from the eureka moment to pitching it, and the sacrifices made along the way.

8 August 2019

Plenty of people have tried to crack America, some more successfully than others. Tesco, Fawlty Towers, rounders: all have failed to cross the Atlantic. Sharon McGillion, an iwoca customer and founder of Pressie Pouch is on the verge of making it.

“I love these days,” she says. “I’m knocking on the door of success.”

Born in Omagh, in Northern Ireland, Pressie Pouch is the saviour for last-minute gift-buyers and time-strapped parents. The ‘peel-and-seal’ gift bag is a simple solution to that familiar panic we’ve all felt when struggling to find tape, or simply don't have time for fancy wrapping.

The eureka moment

But beyond its time-saving uses, Pressie Pouch also benefits an underserved demographic – people who have difficulties with their mobility.

Sharon’s founding story takes us back 10 years, when she was bedridden with a long-term illness and her son was due to go to a birthday party, with a present for his friend.

“I couldn’t think about getting wrapping paper, so I thought, ‘I’ll just go to the shop in the morning and sort it.’ I wrapped it then and there in the local SPAR, taking my sellotape and scissors with me. I didn’t care because I was so unwell.”

It was then that Sharon had her self-professed eureka moment.

“I thought, ‘This is going to happen every time my son goes to a birthday party.’ And I imagined how great it would be if there was something out there you could just take off the shelf, that was made of paper and would just hold a gift without tape, scissors, or anything apart from a pen.”

How iwoca helped Sharon

Funding from iwoca helped Sharon break into the US market by:

  • Allowing her to cover agent and shipping fees
  • Helping her pay designers
  • Get to a point where she could pitch to major US retailers

"Funding from iwoca allowed me to cover agent fees, shipping fees and pay my designers. We've now pitched to major retailers in the US who love the Pressie Pouch and have requested designs for Christmas 2020. Without iwoca, this wouldn't have happened. It's great to have a company like this to turn to."

"The banks were my go-to source of funding, but they wouldn't support me as my growth predictions were speculative," she says. "I could tell by my sales history that the product would work well in America so it was just a case of having the money to take this leap."

Perseverance is key

As any small business owner will know – sacrifice is an integral part of success and Sharon's journey with Pressie Pouch is no exception to this.

“I’ve battled through a lot of lean winters because I believed in myself and my products,” says Sharon. “No clothes, no fancy holidays. You put any extra funds back into your business. My son is my priority, if he wants he gets and I do without. I keep him posted every day on developments in the business, and we’ve had to sacrifice luxuries to make it work.”

The mother of one is keen to emphasise the hard work that’s gone into the venture – one that’s now beginning to reap rewards.

“Even my accountant said to me that anyone else would have thrown in the towel years ago,” says Sharon. “But I could see my end goal even 10 years ago, and now I’m knocking on the door.”

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Vic Gawlik writes articles, tweets and the 9 to when? newsletter. 9 to when? brings news and views from the world of small business straight to your inbox.

Article updated on: 21 February 2020

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