A DONEGAL entrepreneur who started a business in Australia to supplement his income stream has watched it grow into a global business opportunity.
Owen McGarvey from Rannamona, Annagry, left Ireland in 2006 for New Zealand, but by 2009 had set-up shop in Brisbane, Australia with his wife Michelle.
Less than two years ago the couple started a company which has GPS Trackers manufactured and shipped all around the world. Today they have customers in more than 30 countries.
VisionOneGPS was launched in November 2015, and within twelve months the couple put in place a new website and started selling to customers all over the world.
The VisionOne GPS Tracker is suitable for child safety, adult and pet protection, but its primary design is tailored towards the protection and monitoring of elderly people prone to Dementia and Alzheimer’s, or that live alone and who may be at greater risk of falling.
“Where our product differs to many current in-home monitoring systems, is that it can be used anywhere there is a mobile reception, not just in the home where most systems have a 100 metre radius.
“Go to the shops, for a walk on the beach or to the local bingo for the night. With our device, your emergency contacts are only a press of a button away, and the device pin-points your location to within 2.5 metres and sends your emergency contacts this information. If that’s not enough, the device also calls your contacts, starting with the primary, so you can talk to someone almost instantly in the event of an emergency,” he explained.
The son of Michael and Mary McGarvey, Owen (36) has five siblings; four sisters, two in Loughanure, one in Annagry and another one in Ranamona (all married with families) while his brother is also in Australia (Melbourne) with a wife and children.
“I was never an A-grade student growing up and I just scraped past an honours degree in Psychology, so you never know,” he laughed.
Having graduated from the University of Ulster Derry with his Psychology degree, Owen didn’t find too many job opportunities for a graduate in this discipline, so he followed his real passion and managed to talk his way into Microsoft, who had recently set-up in Derry.
After about a year with Microsoft, he did the same type of work in Dublin for Hewlett Packard, and both jobs exposed him to the world of systems and electronics.
In 2006, after another two years with HP, he packed a bag and headed for New Zealand, where he found himself managing the IT systems for the Ministry of Education.
It was in Wellington that he met his wife Michelle.
“Our paths had crossed for three months, as she was bound for a few years in Europe herself. After she left, there didn’t seem to be much left in New Zealand for me, so I followed her to Milan where we both worked for a private university. Michelle worked in Student Administration and I was asked to lecture two classes in the fundamental of business and management,” he said.
The next few years was a whirlwind of living in London, back to Ireland for a while, and travelling throughout Europe, before making the decision to move to Brisbane and attempt to “settle down”.
In 2011 they married and a few months later started their first business adventure, retailing Home and Giftware in Brisbane and online.
“We sourced wholesale products from Europe, Asia and even the USA, and held a massive amount of stock in our garage and in any available space in the house.
“We sampled products, tested them and even got sent a few ‘dud’ products from manufacturers, but we persevered and made a really good go of the opportunity we created for ourselves,” he said.
Having two full-time jobs, they could only retail at the weekends in the beginning at markets, but it turned-out that’s all they needed to do, as the products became instant ‘must-have’ items.
Things changed however when their daughter Olivia came along. The viability of doing markets on a Sunday became unachievable and they were happy to enjoy time with their baby daughter and work in normal 9-5 jobs; Michelle worked in Queensland University of Technology in Student Administration and Owen was contracted as a Project Manager in various businesses in Brisbane.
With plans to have a second child, Owen stumbled across a GPS Tracker with some uncommon features to that of other devices on the market.
“We contacted the manufacturer and requested a sample. It was awesome, but needed work to make it more appealing to the general public. We formed a partnership with the manufacturer and recommended changes and updates, including better English translations for the user manual and once we were happy with the product, we thought that giving Amazon in the US a shot was worth the risk.
“It meant that we didn’t need to handle the products or bring them into Australia. Amazon warehouses our products and ships everything for us. They handle customer queries and deal with returns and all other fulfilment-related queries. We send everything to them, and they put our products in front of over 300 Million people,” he said.
At present, they have customers in 27 countries, including USA, Canada, Brazil, Chile, UK, France, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. They also have several major commercial clients in Australia and New Zealand.
“We are now at the juncture where we are looking for international partners to sell and wholesale our products for us. We are looking to take our business to the next level and become an internationally recognised brand,” he added.
For more information and to register interest, please contact Owen at Owen@VisionOneGPS.com or visit our site at www.VisionOneGPS.com/contact-us
Posted: 8:30 am April 15, 2017
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