It’s Small Business Month in the Queen City, and entrepreneur Kevin Gatlin got some major exposure when “Good Morning America” visited Charlotte earlier this month for its “Deals and Steals” segment. (View video)
Gatlin is the founder and CEO of Playtime Edventures, a toy company that includes children’s bed sheets imprinted with interactive, educational games. He was one of four local businesses featured on the popular segment, which shares exclusive discounts on a variety of products.
While most entrepreneurs can only dream about the exposure that comes with this type of national audience, Gatlin got his “icing on the cake” when segment host Tory Johnson presented him with a $10,000 check on behalf of Vistaprint to fulfill his mission of putting Playtime bed sheets in children’s hospitals and other organizations around the country.
“That was awesome! They gave us a check that’s going to allow us to expand in not just hospitals,” Gatlin said. “Any place where a child is in a situation that they didn’t expect to be in; we hope the bed sheets will curve that unfortunate situation.”
His heart for the community and giving back to those in need spills over into his business model.
“When people come to me for advice about starting a business, I shock them when I ask, ‘Have you figured out how to give back before you make a dime?’”
That was the case in 2016 when Gatlin reached out to the Salvation Army to donate 64 bed sets for its opening of a new wing in the Center of Hope shelter for women and children. Although Gatlin had yet to make a dollar, he considers the donation to be the best investment he ever made.
“People have options,” he said. “Why do they choose your product? Maybe it’s because they’ve been watching you in the community. I really stick to the core value of giving before receiving. It’s been working out so far.”