How mentoring from Google helped single mum Zoë Chapman get the Whizzer — a portable toilet for kids and adults — in front of five Dragons, and an audience of millions.
Every parent understands the challenges of potty-training, but for single mum Zoë Chapman, constantly searching for bathrooms for her young son inspired her to take action. Tired of carrying around a traditional rigid potty, she drew on her passion for design to develop the Whizzer — a compact, portable, and leakproof alternative.
“I first had the idea in 2014, but only really had the time to focus on growing the business during the pandemic, when I constantly heard about the pain point of closed public toilets with parents struggling to find a solution,” says Zoë. She worked for up to 16 hours a day to develop her idea, designing everything from the product itself to the packaging, marketing, and website — and learned about Google’s online 1-to-1 mentoring just after her first big pitch.
“I love learning, so when I first heard about the mentoring on offer from Google, I said yes straight away,” she says. “At the time, I didn’t even have a Google Business Profile set up, so my mentor Sarah helped with that — I learned how to connect pixel for analytics to my website and set myself up with a profile that I could use to include further details, reviews, and offers for customers who Searched for the product. After that, we moved onto Analytics. Basically, mentoring helped me connect everything together, and now I’m building on that.”
After launching in April 2021, the Whizzer quickly became a bestseller, through a combination of social media, live events, and word of mouth. Zoë now promotes the impact of digital skills with entrepreneurs and has shared her experience at a Google Digital Garage event.
“What a day!” she says. “It was a huge confidence boost — to have Google not just invite me but have me speak at that sort of event. Also, just being a featured product I got to talk to other small-business owners going through the same journey as me and learn a lot — about product photography, for instance — so that we were all helping each other.”
Shortly after taking part in the Google Digital Garage workshop, Zoë pitched to the investors of the BBC’s “Dragon’s Den” — securing a £50,000 investment from Sara Davies and Steven Bartlett. The show led to even more interest in the product, airing just in time for the launch of the adult version of the Whizzer. “Having an active Google Business Profile was essential when the show aired and people were searching for me,” says Zoe. “I was providing end-of-life care for my father when I first started developing the product, and since launch I’ve had an overwhelming response regarding the Whizzer’s potential to act as a medical aid, for patients with a wide range of challenges.”
One day, Zoë would like to be the first Search result when someone searches for a nearby bathroom — but, right now, a website redesign is next on her agenda. “I’m currently working with my mentor to help me,” she says. “And Google Ads are also a priority. I’d recommend Google mentoring to any small-business owner. The fact that it’s a free service available to everyone is massive. But also, you can just find a great rapport with the trainers. They really do want to help.” Some of them, of course, have their own youngsters to potty-train.