Anthony Black reports on the success of an Aussie innovation. While not a toy, the device is built for children and the way the business has grown contains insights for businesses of any kind. 

Spacetalk, an all-in-one smartwatch, mobile phone and GPS tracker is specifically designed to keep children safe.

The wearable device enables parents to know precisely where their children are via an app on their mobile phone and is aimed at children aged between four and 12.

Spacetalk is the brainchild of MGM Wireless, one of the leading providers of school communication services. MGM, a listed ASX company for more than 18 years, has a history of keeping kids safe by providing messaging services to more than 1.7 million parents.

MGM Wireless spent almost four years conceiving, designing and developing Spacetalk in Australia after identifying a niche market in children’s wearables.

Spacetalk was launched two years ago from a single online portal. What appealed to parents was the device deliberately blocked access to social media apps and, in doing so, the ever-lurking dangers of bullying and intimidation among other harmful possibilities. No one can contact a child’s Spacetalk without prior approval from parents. 

Spacetalk’s features, security and online sales success rapidly attracted the attention of retailers. JB Hi-Fi and Leading Edge Computers began selling the device in their stores and online in 2018.

New Zealand telecommunications giant Spark was quick to notice Spacetalk’s popularity in Australia and believed it could replicate its success across the Tasman.

Spark began selling Spacetalk in each of its 73 stores from October 2018.

The unit sales in fiscal year 2019 increased by 1023 per cent on the prior corresponding period. Unit sales rose from 1785 in 2018 to 18,270 in just 12 months. The device's sales increased by 931 per cent from $500,000 in 2018 to $4.7 million in 2019.

Sales success in Australia and New Zealand prompted MGM Wireless to chase bigger overseas markets.

MGM Wireless founder and chief executive Mark Fortunatow attended numerous technology conferences and exhibitions across the globe, displaying Spacetalk to huge audiences while making invaluable contacts with industry and telecommunication company leaders.

Spacetalk’s reputation for building a safe and secure device attracted attention from telecommunication companies in the UK. The UK has a big children’s wearables market, but privacy and security issues had emerged in devices made by Spacetalk competitors.

Europe’s telecommunications giant Sky Mobile began selling Spacetalk in August this year. The deal with Sky marked the second in less than a week after MGM signed a retail agreement with leading TV shopping channel broadcaster QVC (UK).

The QVC deal will expose Spacetalk to a TV, multi-platform, multi-network shopping and retail experience and an audience of more than 1.1 million customers across the UK and Ireland.

Regarding the UK deals, Mr Fortunatow says that the partnerships will fast-track the growth of the business. 

"With a population of more than 66 million people, the UK market is about three times the size of our home markets of Australia and New Zealand.

"We feel we have an advantage in terms of quality, customer service in the aftermarket and a secure app, which really appeals to the UK market.

"Spacetalk’s security is not only road tested in Australia and New Zealand, but meets stringent EU general data protection regulation (GDPR) tests," he says. 

To meet GDPR guidelines, MGM Wireless updated the app’s privacy policy, added consent forms and ensured the highest security and privacy features. MGM plans to build its customer base in the UK during the next 12 months and has established an office and sales team in London.

Expansion continues in Australia, with Officeworks and The Good Guys recently joining the growing MGM network of established retailers.

Spacetalk has generated incredible growth since the device was launched in October 2017 and is currently stocked in 588 retail outlets in Australia. 

Anthony Black is a long standing journalist and public relations consultant. He was finance editor of the Sunday Herald Sun for eight years and has worked for numerous publications, including BRW.
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