Export Champions: My Carry Potty is an overseas hit; Amanda Jenner, founder of My Carry Potty, explains how she turned her “back of a cigarette packet” sketch into a business that’s exporting to 30 markets

Export Champions: My Carry Potty is an overseas hit

Amanda Jenner, founder of My Carry Potty, explains how she turned her “back of a cigarette packet” sketch into a business that’s exporting to 30 markets.


Amanda Jenner started My Carry Potty four years ago

By James Hurley

6:05PM BST 28 May 2013

A fledgling exporting strategy can go too well. Just ask Amanda Jenner. Three years ago, when she took the children’s travel potty she had designed to an overseas trade show for the first time, she was overwhelmed by interest and orders.

“We had an astronomical response – I was shocked at the strength of it. It was just me and one product next to all these established businesses but we got orders from South Korea, America, Germany and Italy.”

“Hugely exciting”, the Bournemouth-based entrepreneur recalls, yet she admits she was “naive” to take on “everyone who said yes”. “People will order 1,000 units but don’t want to build the brand. Now we’ve realised exporting is not all about volume.”Ms Jenner started My Carry Potty four years ago, after making a “back of a cigarette packet” design of a lightweight, leak and odour-proof portable potty that she believed would have helped her toilet train her young children. “I’m not a technical drawer – I’m a mum who left school at 15 with no GCSEs.”

She founded the business with £50,000, raised by working in sales in her husband’s furniture business, and has secured listings in John Lewis, Mamas & Papas, Mothercare and a range of independent retailers in the UK.

However, it’s overseas that the product has really taken off, with 75pc of the company’s projected sales of around £300,000 expected to come from exports to almost 30 countries this year. If a deal with a large Chinese distributor is successful, the figure could be much higher, she says.

Rising labour and raw material costs in the Chinese factory which makes the potties – which retail for around £25 – mean Ms Jenner is hoping to bring production back to the UK. She believes this could deliver a further export boost and reduce the threat posed by copycats.

“The Far East loves to have a British brand that’s made here. It would really strengthen us for export. And the threat of copying in China gives us a few nightmares.”

Help from UK Trade & Investment and her local Chambers of Commerce has been invaluable. “UKTI have been amazing, from help with funding for trade show stands to putting us in touch with distributors without us even asking. And the Chamber has opened doors and given us advice.”

Like most exporters, Ms Jenner has found she needs to pick her markets carefully – and tailor how the product is sold to the local culture. To put it delicately, in some countries for a child to use the street rather than a potty is not frowned upon.

She is allowing a BBC film crew to document her start-up story because she wants would-be entrepreneurs to be realists as well as optimists.

“You can’t start this sort of business with an idea and £1,000. To date we’ve spent £100,000 just on patent costs. I’m up until 2am talking to different countries every night, you’re trying to find cash left right and centre – it’s tough. But it’s exciting.”


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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