Popab’s founder and managing director, Staffan Skeppstedt, tells the story about the innovation that led to the company being started and the unexpected developments that then followed.
The story of Popab really starts with my mother Ingrid Skeppstedt. Ingrid was a very stylish lady with a great interest in clothes and beautiful objects. One object that she was very fond of was her fine wooden cane. However, she thought it was difficult to put the cane down in a convenient way and often it fell over onto the floor. I realized that a practical solution to this problem would be much appreciated but at the same time, I knew that the solution I came up with had to live up to my mother’s high demands as regards form and design.
Finding a way of combining function and form in one and the same product was an exciting challenge that I could not resist taking on! In order to decide what functions and features this product had to have, I started off by drawing up a number of requirements that the product had to fulfil. First of all, it was important that the cane could be hung up in many different places. Moreover, it should be hard-wearing and not too big or heavy. It was also essential that it would fit on to canes of different sizes and be easy to attach.
At that time, I had no experience of product development and therefore a lot of work had to be done before I understood what the basic design of the product should be in order to fulfil all those requirements. Then when it came to making the product as attractive as possible, I was given invaluable help by Håkan Bergqvist from the company Ergonomidesign. In his hands, my ideas were refined and gradually, the caneholder was made into the beautiful and popular product it is today.
At the time when the caneholder was being designed, I was still working in a completely different field so all product development work was being done in my spare time. Initially, I never intended Popab to be anything but an interesting sideline. However, very soon after the caneholder was launched, I realized that I would have to make a crucial decision about the future of the company. This was because there was enormous interest in the caneholder, both in Sweden and abroad, and soon Popab was receiving requests for new products.
However, what meant most to me, and what later became the most important reason why I finally chose to put all my efforts into Popab, was the pleasure I got through being able to help people. Ever since I founded the company, I have had a lot of contact with people who use our products and I have heard many positive and appreciative stories about how our products have helped them. It is amazing to think that our products make a difference in people’s everyday lives and this knowledge is also an important driving force for our striving to produce new products.
What started out as a small project on the side to help my mother has now turned into a company with many products and a large number of international markets. But even though our business is growing and developing, I am very careful to ensure that the original concept of the company is preserved and leaves its mark on all our work. Popab’s success is based on the insight that many people want products that are of a high class as regards both function and design, and we will only stay relevant as long as we can offer that. Before a new product is approved for launching, I therefore always ask myself if my mother would approve it. Only if I believe she would like it, is the product released on the market – and allowed to carry her name.