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Meet the mothers behind the successful business of Micro Scooters

by Luciana Guess (2020-08-22)

Scooter Queens Anna Gibson (left) and Philippa Gogarty (right) are the founders of Micro Scooters Ltd

With six young children in tow between them, the last thing Anna Gibson and Philippa Gogarty really had time for was learning how to run their own multi-million pound business.

But that is precisely what the two enterprising mothers have ended up mastering - not to mention revolutionising the nation's school run and somehow still managing to put their own kids first.

More than one million children aged up to 12 have, or have had in the last ten years, one of the Micro Scooters which the pair have made popular in Britain and which increasing numbers are using to scoot to lessons on.

Amazingly, the route to the success of their import and distribution company, which now has an annual turnover of £15million, all started when Anna's then 18-month-old son Edward took a shine to a little plastic scooter he spotted while they were out for a walk on Clapham Common.

He so enjoyed having a turn riding the three-wheeled toy with a plastic deck and joystick for steering, which belonged to another child out playing that day, that Anna tracked one of the - at the time - rarely seen scooters down for him in a shop.

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The two mothers with their children (l-r) Dom, Tom, Georgia, Edward, Jack and Will.

8897-kgf-220-00-jpg.jpgAnna came up with the idea when her son Edward liked a plastic scooter he spotted while they were out for a walk on Clapham Common

Soon, Edward's scooter was drawing admiring glances from other mums and kids, who were all keen to know where to get one.
Anna was happy being a full-time mother after giving up her career as lawyer but was willing for another challenge, so she decided to start selling them.

She, and her friend Philippa, contacted the UK distributor and placed her first order - one for Thomas, Philippa's son and three for Anna to sell.

They sold quickly and, after ordering more, she put up notices in local cafes offering scooters for sale. In that first year, she sold over seventy scooters to local mums.

Then the UK distributor disappeared, so Anna called the manufacturer, a Swiss company called Micro Mobility Systems and ordered a palette of 48 scooters.

When they sold quickly, she and her friend Philippa, whose two boys inevitably had scooters themselves by then, were convinced of the product's potential.


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Learning that Micro was looking for a new UK distributor, they flew out to Zurich to bid for the licence. Despite having zero knowledge of how to be distributors, they convinced the company they were right for the job.

Anna, 50, said: 'All we knew, as mums, was that the scooter was brilliant and there was nothing else like it on the market, nothing else a child of that age could get on and be totally independent and have freedom, and help with their balance and co-ordination.

'Philippa and I had met in Clapham, where we then both lived, weighing our second sons in at the local doctors.

We became mates and had children the same age with exactly the same interests.

'When we flew out to Switzerland to meet them we said we think these scooters are absolutely fantastic and we think every mother should have one.
We knew the benefits of the scooter - and we said to them, By the way you have got to make it in pink so little girls will like it. It was originally all design engineering, all grey, black.'

Philippa and Anna are the founders of a company with an annual turnover of £15m.

In the past ten years more than one million children received one of their brightly-coloured scooters

Philippa, 53, who had worked as a fundraiser before becoming a full-time mum, said: 'We knew nothing about being distributors or retailers.
All we knew was that our boys loved being on them and that by that point all our friends had them.

'Micro always say to us that everything told them that they shouldn't appoint us as their distributors but we were so passionate about it and so convinced by it that they took a chance.'

Returning to England, the pair thought, Where do we start?

'We had to think about our retail strategy, e-commerce strategy, logistics, pricing, accounts, import and export duties, all those things that we knew nothing about and all while we had six children in tow,' said Anna.

'We would traipse up and down Clapham Common with buggy in one hand, mobile phone in the other, phoning each other saying what are going to do about this, let's go and look for a warehouse.

Philippa, a former fundraiser, and Anna, a former lawyer, teamed up together when they both were living in Clapham.

After the UK distributor for the scooters disappeared, Anna and Philippa flew out to Zurich to bid for the licence

'The most obvious person to approach was John Lewis because as mums of children that age we weren't going to go into a bike shop to buy a scooter, we were going to go into a toy shop.

'We had no power point presentation, we had no time for anything like that, so we literally pitched up on John Lewis' doorstep and said, You've got to take this scooter, it is absolutely fantastic.

Again, they saw the passion we have for the product.'

Philippa said: 'We convinced John Lewis to take some and we were getting bigger and bigger orders and we had to order a container. It amazes me that we managed it.
Our children weren't even all at school from 9am to 3pm then, we were picking them up at 12 and the smallest ones weren't even going to nursery at that point.

'So the whole thing would not have worked unless we were really, really good mates and were able to get our children to play together and share a sense of humour while juggling all these balls thinking we were going to drop one at any moment.

Anna's son Jack, five, rides his Micro Scooter.

The mothers' enthusiasm for the scooters won over the manufacturers.  Philippa siad: 'We were so passionate about it and so convinced by it that they took a chance'

'Once we forgot a freight forwarder was coming for a meeting to pitch to us one day so we ended up talking to him while giving lunch to five children who were sitting there banging the table demanding things while we offered him a Marmite sandwich.

It was that hands on.

'Dealing with those first big orders and cash flow, we had to get our heads around it and understand it. We never dreamt it would be that big. All we've ever done is do the next thing.'

Anna, whose children Edward, Will and Jack are now 16, 14 and 12 respectively, said: 'Our minds were awash with everything we had to learn and do, a great long list of all the stuff we had to try to understand.

'In the meantime as a mum your head is full of all the things you've got to do for your children just to survive or to get them to where they've got to be.

Their company now employs 35 people and has its headquarters in West Mersea, near Colchester, Essex.

Philippa said: 'the whole thing would not have worked unless we were really, really good mates and were able to get our children to play together'

'I remember taking my son Will to his nursery school and they had an International Costume Day and feeling really pleased with myself that I had remembered that it was - in my mind - fancy dress.

So there he was in his Buzz Lightyear outfit - and all the other kids were in their international costume and all the other mothers looking at me.

'At the centre of our lives were the children and being mums.
I think the reason it worked was we shared a sense of humour and both tackled and learned everything together, divvied up all the things we had to understand. As we got busier and busier we kept saying we still want to be mums, our priority is our children.'

A pink Micro Scooter made by Swiss company, Micro Mobility Systems.

At first, the scooters were black and grey until the two mothers called for a range of colours

Their company now employs 35 people and has its headquarters in West Mersea, near Colchester, Essex.

If you have any type of concerns regarding where and how you can use North American manufacturer and distributor have their head office and Canadian warehouse by Sarnia Ontario, you can call us at the site. But the pair say they still put being mothers first.

Philippa, mum to Georgia, 21, Tom, 16, and Dominic, 14, said: 'It's a multi-million pound business now but we still probably frustrate the board slightly by saying, Sorry we can't meet then because that is school holidays.

'We absolutely make the business work around us being mums.

It's so sad when you look at our success that more businesses can't accommodate women.'

The Mini Micro's inventor Wim Ouboter wryly describes working with Anna and Philippa, who have driven the business forward by developing scooter accessories which they distribute world-wide, as 'worse than a marriage'.

Philippa said: 'Wim's lovely and he always says, You nag me the whole time - but look what it's produced.

'To us is it was so obvious that parents were really concerned about the safety of their children so they wanted to buy helmets, bells, lights, so we said to Micro look we need to sell these things.

They said, Well we're developing and innovating Scooters, so we said, Ok we'll manufacture the accessories.

'That was another part of the huge success and growth of the brand, and today the Micro accessories are nearly as popular as the scooters themselves.'

In addition, more than 50,000 children have attended a 'Scoot Safe' scheme initiated by the pair, which teaches them things like making sure they're considerate to other pavement users and not to career across the road.

A survey of 75,000 children by the transport charity Sustrans found that the proportion of children scooting (on Micros or other makes) or skating to school went up by more than half - from 9.3 per cent in 2013 to 14.3 per cent in 2014.

With Christmas approaching, sales are expected to be brisk.

'When we talk about Christmas there are presents that children get which are fantastic but which they use three or four days or they get bored of them after a couple of months but with a scooter they're on it every single day,' said Anna.

'It's a great benefit on the school run because children are arriving at school having done some exercise.

Families are now scooting at weekends with their children and there's a whole mindfulness movement which is all about people being in the moment with their kids not letting them go and do whatever it is but actually doing an activity with them.'