So Joachim, what do iDeal of Sweden do?
iDeal of Sweden is a fashion & lifestyle brand which focuses on accessories for mobile devices, we are ‘fashion tech.’ We sell phone cases, wallet cases, protection, briefcases, powerbanks, charging cables and so on. Everything we do is in line with the latest fashion and interior trends and it might sound narrow but it’s a huge global industry and our focus has been to build a strong global brand since day one. We first started in our garage without money and very limited knowledge about the market and it’s quite funny to go back and think about when it started, I was making phone calls in sauna because it was the only quiet place in the house!
Today our products are sold worldwide online and in store in roughly 30 countries. Our aim is for a breakthrough in the UK by 2018 and Are products are today sold in stores like Vodaphone for example. A breaktrough is something bigger and it´s a lot of work left.
We are building our brand through online marketing, mostly via social media, influencers and paid marketing. Our sales are more or less a 50/50 split between retail and online.
Can you pinpoint a time in your career which was a particular highlight for you?
There have been many highlights in quite a short period of time, however I have always believed and felt that highlights lie ahead. For me, the goal is the road and I am not very comfortable with talking about achievements in the past when the challenges and possibilities are in the future. Someone once said ‘work hard in silence and let success make all the noise,’ and that is a quote that I want to live up to.
To pick a specific highlight it is the year 2014, myself and my great friend Filip worked every hour due to so many challenges within the business; production did not work, we had a huge currency exchange rate problem, cashflow issues and we relied on very few big customers who cancelled the co-operation which lead the company more or less to bankruptcy at least three times that year.
I didn’t wake up in the mornings because of an alarm clock, I woke up because of pure anguish. We never stopped believing in ourselves or the business. The solution to the challenges was to sell more and do it fast, it was a fight of survival. At first not many believed in us but that strategy turned out well in the end. During the same year both of my parents passed away which hard to combine with the working pressure and being a father to small children and to add a bank account which was reaching low levels. When I look back at that period of time I feel good because I am so thankful that I pushed my limits further – you never know your limits until you push yourself to reach them.
What are the 3 most important aspects of running a successful business like iDeal of Sweden?
I believe that every start-up has a lot of problems and as an entrepreneur the only thing that you can be really sure of when waking up is that you have problems to deal with during the day. With that said I think that the 3 most important aspects of running any business is;
Focusing on your main objectives is a must, you need to see through the mountains and believe in yourself and the business. Most people say that it is impossible, that your idea won’t work and so on, but doubt is a dangerous disease which can be hard to shake off so it is important to try and never let it in. It is hard to beat a person that never gives up.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started and for me that is something I deal with on a daily basis. In order to develop you need to try new things all of the time and challenge the way things were done or should have been done, the world of business is evolving more than ever and it is opening up more possibilities for people to start a business or for small companies to challenge the big players.
There are so many examples of successful companies popping up from nowhere and reaching billions in revenues, for example it took the phone 75 years to reach 100 million users whereas it took Instagram just 2. For iDeal of Sweden it is taking a little longer, but I think today we have around 2 million people using our products today.
Love what you do
Hard work and the right attitude would not be possible if you don’t love what you do, all the challenges, sacrifices, discipline and disappointment wouldn’t make sense if you don’t. As a company I think that you and your employees simply have to love the brand in order for your customers to love it to.
Do you have any regrets, If so what would you change?
That we didn’t start earlier, there was a huge gap in the market during 2010 when we first started talking about the segment of products. So many people wanted it and there were few products available then whereas, today it is like a warzone. There will always be a reason not to start a business, you’re too young, too old you have kids or a job that you’re comfortable in but that should never stop you. I don’t regret anything I have done, I have made more mistakes than most people I know and I believe that is what the key to success is.
What is next for the business?
There is a lot going on right now, we are launching a new category of products in a few weeks which feels very exciting. The team is growing and we are now looking to employ 20 new stars to join our amazing team and that itself is a challenge.
We are also expanding our office as well as opening a new office in Stockholm next month which will make it easier to find people for our kind of business. In Norrkoping, our hometown it is easier to find farmers than people with knowledge about e-commerce!
The company is in a ‘globalisation’ stage, we are launching in many new markets and we will have a tour of events in 10+ major cities such as; London, Paris, Los Angeles and Toronto… just to name a few.
What do you do to unwind outside of work?
This is something I don’t tend to do that much because I like to keep my brain going and I believe that activity always wins over passivity. Besides working hard, exercise is key for me to feel good it has been infringed a little too much over the past two years but I am getting myself back on track now. And last but not least, I love spending time with my three kids and my lovely and very understanding wife who helps make all of this possible.
Was it hard becoming a business owner?
Becoming a business owner was not hard but the ride has been. It most definitely has not been boring though, for me it is fun to take on challenges and you must look at it that way.
How did you recruit your employees?
Before I even answer that, I have to say that without them iDeal of Sweden would be nothing. Finding the right people is a challenge, especially at the start when no one knows you or your brand however, today it is much easier as many people want to work with us.
For key positions we do require help from strong headhunting companies but generally we advertise via different methods and channels. The kind of people we are looking for in general are young and driven, people who want to give it their all and strive to become an entrepreneur.
What makes iDeal of Sweden stand out from its competitors?
I think that we are always looking for improvement and that we love to evolve and challenge ourselves to try new things. Another strength of ours is as a small and young company we can change our direction and we can do it fast and this a big difference between ourselves and competitors who are much bigger in size.
Our company culture is also very strong and different from most places I believe. We work hard but we do have a lot of fun along the way. Not every office on our street is open throughout the day and night and you rarely see them ‘poppin’ champagne bottles!
Finally, Joachim if you could give once piece of advice to an aspiring entrepreneur what would it be?
Think less and start making mistakes! The worst thing that can happen is that you end up with a lot of learnings and that you can try again. Remember, free time is the most expensive time you have because nobody pays for it but you – so, spend it wisely.