Caitrin Kincaid: 'Winning this competition has boosted my confidence and self-belief tenfold.'

Caitrin Kincaid: 'Winning this competition has boosted my confidence and self-belief tenfold.'
Marc Gardner
Marc GardnerOfficial

Posted: Wed 13th Dec 2023

Back in May, Enterprise Nation and digital design and marketing services firm VistaPrint awarded 20 small businesses a share of £150,000 in grant funding through their joint programme Realising the Remarkable.

As well as the grant money, each of the winners received 12 months of free subscriptions to Vista's graphic design software VistaCreate Pro, £500 to spend on marketing materials at the VistaPrint UK website, and access to the 99designs by Vista silver logo and brand guide package.

A few months down the line, we were eager to find out how the grant money and prizes had helped the winning business owners with their ventures. Here, we talk to Caitrin Kincaid, founder of Ballymena business Cubefun, whose product aims to promote healthy play and exercise for children.

Caitrin, please tell us about your business.

During the 2020 lockdown, I worried that my boys Cooper and Carter weren't getting enough play or exercise. As parents, we all want our kids to be healthy and active.

I'd just finished a course at my local Sure Start Centre on the importance of play for children and knew how vital it was for children's physical and emotional development. That's why I created the game Cubefun.

Cubefun is a fun educational resource for kids. A soft plush cube that's played like a large dice. It's designed with themed illustrations that help promote spatial awareness, physical movement, colour recognition and gross motor skills.

Our themes are farm, jungle, minibeast and exercise, and each one gives children a fun way to learn about different animals and their movements.

When you heard you'd won a Realising the Remarkable grant, how did you respond?

Honestly, I jumped about the house squealing and doing a happy dance. I phoned my husband – who didn't believe me – then I cried, as it felt that all my hard work was being recognised and the business felt validated.

As a female entrepreneur, I battle with self-doubt a lot. Winning this competition has helped boost my confidence and self-belief tenfold.

The money will also allow me to pursue so many ideas I have for the business and it's removed that constant worry about money, which honestly is priceless. I'll be forever grateful for this opportunity.

Tell us how you've used the grant so far.

The grant allowed me to submit my product to Dr Gummer's Good Play Guide for accreditation, and I'm delighted to say that Cubefun is now officially accredited. I've benefited from Dr Gummer's expertise and advice through her consultancy service.

I've also used the grant to develop some branded extra-large cardboard cubes to take to local events such as The Balmoral Show and to local markets. That's helped build brand awareness.

What's your biggest achievement since getting the grant?

Ranking higher on the Amazon UK best sellers' list. I've been able to use part of the grant to hire an Amazon expert. They helped me create A+ Content on my Amazon store and update all my listings, which has led to more sales.

I'm also incredibly proud of the fact that Special Olympics Ireland have added my product to their young athletes' toolkits and used it in a recent national campaign for healthy play.



We're in a cost of living crisis right now. How will the grant help there?

I created Cubefun during the COVID pandemic to help keep my young kids active and healthy. I want to be part of the solution to the childhood obesity pandemic that sees 25% of young people in Northern Ireland classified as obese.

I was a stay-at-home mum during this time and wanted to get back into the workplace. To be able to create a job for myself and possibly other people through this business would be a huge achievement for me.

My cubes are currently being used in local gymnastics clubs and girls' and boys' brigade clubs, by sports development officers in local councils, and even by the young athletes from Special Olympics Ireland.

This grant will allow me to reach even more young people in my local community. I'd love to be able to provide support and sponsorship to my local Sure Start centre, who were vital in starting me on my entrepreneurial journey.

And how will the grant aid your design and marketing?

I've used the Vista credits to update all my marketing materials with a new play guide for the cubes, which I add to every customer's order. I also now have much better branding for my packages. These are all things I wanted when I started out, but was unable to afford.

Everything I've mentioned has boosted my confidence in my small business, which in turn has allowed me to feel worthy enough to compete with the big names in the toy industry. That's been the major benefit of the grant for me. Winning the grant has given me the belief to keep pushing my business forward and make it a success.



Why do you feel your business deserves this grant?

I started this business from a simple idea. I didn't fully understand the game's huge benefits to kids' physical and emotional development until health professionals began to send me wonderful feedback after using my product. I'm passionate about kids' learning and development and would like to be able to bring my product to the global marketplace.

I feel that I've achieved lots in the last two years but the grant will help me grow exponentially. I've taken part in pitching competitions, won two awards and been a finalist in three others.

I've had my cubes featured in local press as well as on The Late Late Toy Show on Irish RTE. I've sold over 1,000 units via local stockists, Instagram, local markets, Amazon and Etsy. I've done all this while working part-time and looking after two young children.

I know that if I had the resources, I could achieve so much more. I feel like I'm still just getting started and to make this a successful business a helping hand will go a long way.

Finally, what are your plans for growth over the next 12 months?

My plan is to increase my SEO efforts on my own website and my Amazon UK store to increase sales from both marketplaces. I'm currently completing a digital marketing course with my local council to teach myself SEO and I'm studying Amazon Seller Central to learn how to raise brand awareness on this enormous shopping platform.

I'm currently stocked in eight local stores and hope to increase this to 20 by the end of 2023.


Realising the Remarkable: A £150,000 cash grant programme by Enterprise Nation and VistaPrint

Other Realising the Remarkable success stories

Marc Gardner
Marc GardnerOfficial
I'm Enterprise Nation's senior content manager, and I spend most of my time working on all types of content for the small business programmes and campaigns we run with our corporate, government and local-authority partners.

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