Stefan Ytterborn started building companies when he was just 19 years old. He has now been at it for 30 years. He has launched, grown, funded, and exited.
On the Dealmakers Show Ytterborn shared his no boundaries approach to starting companies that he is passionate about. We talked about selling companies for $65M, and raising even more for his latest business. He gave us his insights on the future of transportation, how the investment space is changing, his incredible intuition about what’s going to be big next, and how you can develop it too.
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Passion, Intuition & Exploration
Stefan Ytterborn was born just outside of Stockholm, Sweden.
From a very early age his gymnastic teacher mother encouraged him to embrace sports. He tried everything from soccer to skiing.
When he was 15 years old he ended up moving to Brazil for several years. Before eventually returning to Europe. That certainly taught him to embrace uncertainty, to operate in new environments, and meet new people.
This has definitely propelled Stefan to take a global approach to business. Never restricting himself to some small comfort zone. Instead, allowing himself to explore and have the courage to do things without geographic boundaries.
By the time he was 19 he decided that he couldn’t wait, and stay idle in academia any more. He chose to follow his passion for starting a business. A consistent theme that he continues to let guide him today.
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Understanding How The World Works
Stefan soon got into importing and exporting businesses.
Perhaps even more significantly he dove into learning about 17th century architecture, style, and design. He read everything he could find. He went out in the field and visited castles.
What he really learned was how the world works. Specifically, what shapes preferences throughout time. How the times we are living in shape tastes and demand. How industry, culture, and innovation impact that. As well as how it makes ideas more relevant at specific times.
This really became a catalyst for incredible intuition as to what was going to be big next. Something which he has used to create many successes over the past three decades.
This together with his earlier experiences of travel and sports really enabled him to embrace new things. To willingly jump on new ideas, be open to navigating the obstacles that would come, and just enjoying exploring on the journey. As well as just being able to enjoy the ride.
Stefan had been living through some significant economic changes, which also shaped the types of furniture people were buying.
After doing some import and export of his own, he connected with Ikea. He pitched them with the idea of being able to apply his innovative approaches to furniture design under their umbrella. This gave him first hand experience and appreciation for how much more impact could be made with capital and scale.
Staying Ahead Of The Curve
After his work with Ikea and doing some consulting Ytterborn says that he craved doing something more purposeful.
Now a father himself he had been taking his own children to the slopes to go skiing. The skiing experience had also changed.
Skiing was getting much faster. The risks of slamming into giant trees at very high speeds was far greater than it used to be. Extreme games were more popular, and now there was ski jumping and snowboarding too.
At the same time he saw the rising trend in health, wellness, and safety. Yet, little had been done to make skiing safer. Even despite the increased risks.
Stefan decided to do something about it. Specifically with new helmets and his own startup Poc.
He began pitching VCs. They didn’t get it.
Of course, since then Poc has become a global brand, with a presence in 45 countries.
That doesn’t mean that there weren’t more challenges on the way. In spite of growing fast, gaining 10% of global market share, and a lot of revenues, financing was hard to come by.
Instead of being excited about helping to fuel the journey, the banks were more concerned about continuing to extend more working capital in this successful business.
So, the best move appeared to be an exit. The first sale of the company didn’t turn out to be the great match they hoped for. So, Stefan actually ended up selling his company twice. The first to a NASDAQ traded public company. Then reselling it again for $65M.
Stefan Ytterborn’s latest venture is another born out of his passions.
He has never been one to appreciate loud motorcycles on the streets. Then he discovered the electric bike. He began collecting them at his country house. Everyone that came to visit absolutely loved them, and had the time of their lives riding them.
Again Ytterborn saw a combination of trends all converging together. Not just eco-consciousness, but policies and regulation, and now of course, high gas prices.
It seemed the perfect timing to launch Cake. A new line of electric motorbikes. Cake has already raised around $75M in capital.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Stefan Ytterborn was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- The future of transportation
- The vision of Cake
- Stefan’s top advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs