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Topic: The Business of Teaching Time With Kids Watches

"Timely" Inspiration: Biography of a Young Local Entrepreneur

Eight-year-old Billy Darnell ran the most successful lemonade stand in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The tenacity he exhibited as a young boy foretold what he would become two decades later, now President and CEO of Zoobee Time Teaching Watches. Darnell, a Cox School of Business alum from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, has been featured in Business Dallas, Oklahoma Today, and Japanese business newspaper Nikke. He has also interviewed on WFAA-TV/ABC's Good Morning Texas. The 29 year old Oklahoma native has been named a "Rising Star" by Entrepreneur Magazine, and Darnell's company has been highlighted as one of the "Top Ten Intriguing Start-Ups" by D Magazine, a glossy Dallas periodical.

In 1994, eleven years after the lucrative lemonade business, 19-year-old Darnell's entrepreneurial spirit moved him once again, this time in an airport lobby while watching the Phil Donahue program. Donahue featured successful business owners, including Dave Thomas of Wendy's, Debbie Fields of Mrs. Field's Cookies, and Geoffe Walsh of Art Watch, Inc. Darnell envisioned a way to combine his two passions, animals and business. That same summer, armed with tips of the trade from a helpful Mr. Walsh, Darnell founded Zoobee's predecessor, Naturalistic Timepieces (later, Safari Watches). In 1997, Safari Watches became Zoobee Inc., and Darnell's watches were unveiled in zoo gift shops and specialty stores across the U.S. To meet customer demands, a specialty children's line was launched in 2001. These colorful creations featured fun animal characters that fostered a child's love for wildlife.

Recognizing the importance of children learning the life skill of reading the analog watch face, Darnell improved upon his existing children's watches by introducing the new Time Teaching Watch by Zoobee in 2001. The watches are specifically designed to aid parents and teachers in helping children learn the concept of time and how to read analog clock time.

Zoobee's Time Teaching Watches have become quite popular among parents, grandparents, teachers, and others seeking an educational gift for children. And the inspiration for it all hit while watching a talk show in an airport... Only "time will tell" what Darnell comes up with next!


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