Entrepreneurs are notorious for emphasizing the many difficulties we face – the endless hours, the financial strains, the professional isolation. But then there’s Kevin Gatlin, a Charlotte native with an infectious enthusiasm for seeing only the possibilities.
When it comes to charting his own way, Gatlin seems to revel in the uncertainty of it all.
“You enjoy waking up, and you don’t want to go to sleep, because you are scared you’re going to miss something,” he said of his entrepreneur’s life. “The possibilities are endless.”
Gatlin, 43, is sitting in the lobby lounge at Ballantyne Resort, one of his favorite spots to meet other entrepreneurs and get inspired.
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“Success,” he said, when asked what he likes about the place. “It’s motivating.”
These days, the founder and CEO of Playtime Edventures LLC ( www.PlaytimeSheets.com) is working to bring to market his latest creation – a four-piece set of children’s bed sheets colorfully printed with educational games. He hopes the sheets will be a hit with parents looking to take an active role in the education of their children ages 3 to 11.
Gatlin said he worked with licensed teachers to design the sheets and the dozens of age-appropriate games, the latter of which must be downloaded from the Internet. He said the games focus on strengthening skills in math, language, history and science.
The twin-size sheets (50 percent cotton/50 percent polyester) will come with a set of washable Crayola Crayons. Gatlin said he is working with an overseas producer to have the product available by late November, just in time for Christmas.
At first blush, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Gatlin might seem an unlikely candidate to create an educational product. In a class of 800 students at Independence High School, he said he graduated 760th.
“I was not smart, but I’ve always been creative,” he said. “It always came naturally to me, but I could never take a test.”
Gatlin said he later attended Central Piedmont Community College and transferred to North Carolina State, where he earned a degree in broadcasting and communications. Married with two children, his wife is a primary care physician.
Gatlin said he caught the entrepreneur’s bug shortly after college, when he and a former partner went into business producing resume stationery embossed with watermarks representing various careers, the better to make a resume stand out from the pile, he said.
Gatlin now owns Charlotte Hotel TV, an in-room network that runs on a 30-minute loop and highlights things to do and places to eat in the city. He said about 60 hotels display the program. (He launched a similar network that targets fitness centers.)
Despite his enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, Gatlin says it’s a delicate balance when it comes to family.
“The life of an entrepreneur is a very selfish mentality,” he says. “You want other people to follow your dreams or buy into your dreams.If you have a spouse, you have to be careful how you take them on that ride with you.”