STOCKHOLM (VN) — After a day in POC’s Stockholm office previewing the Swedish brand’s new road apparel and helmet line, VeloNews sat down with founder and CEO Stefan Ytterborn to talk about the company, its ideals and goals in the new frontier of road riding, and some sound advice.
Ytterborn credited the company’s constant focus on improving its operations on a daily basis for its success in the snowsports and mountain bike markets. Building on its foundation there, the company announced in July that it would enter the road market in 2014, offering helmets (for which the company is known) and other kit essentials (bibs, jerseys, jackets, etc.).
VeloNews: The road market is already very competitive. Why jump in?
Stefan Ytterborn: For a number of reasons. And I totally respect all the players in the market. But I definitely think we have something to contribute when it comes to the safety aspect of it. Because the game — the most hazardous bit of road biking is getting ran into by a car. And what is there to avoid that, promote the safety aspect of that?
VN: The new stuff won’t be for everyone. How do you feel about that?
SY: Yeah, sure. I mean. Our market share in the ski market shouldn’t be anything more than maximum five percent in units and 10 percent in value. And we are thinking the same thing here. If we were asking for five percent of the road market we would be very aggressive. But you know, we want to support performance together with safety, and it has a price. And we have a pricing strategy, and we cannot compromise what we’re trying to achieve, because then we will start compromising the product. And when we start compromising the product, we also start compromising our product, which is trying to save lives … to that extent we need to avoid making less expensive products just because we want to sell more. We need to promote the idea of protection.
VN: Do you think road riders are too concerned with aesthetics?
SY: Personally, I’m someone who would promote the style of things, and I’m also concerned about the safety of things. I think that companies like Assos and Rapha and so forth, they’ve brought a lot of energy to the cycling market and I do respect them and so forth. They’re adding something that road biking needs.
VN: What’s important to you as a businessman?
SY: Passion, and being able to contribute something — something that might have a meaning to someone. That’s what’s driving me.
VN: The culture here in the office is remarkable. You’ve got a talented team. How did you do it?
SY: By sticking to one clear goal, again, at all times, trying to improve what we did yesterday, and supporting the idea of our mission of saving lives, and therefore bringing in engineers, designers, graphic designers. Because it’s not one solution, it’s about interacting. It’s like building a brick building, brick after brick.
VN: What’s more important to you than business success?
SY: I’ve always done what’s made me “go” somehow. I’ve been fortunate to have some success coming along with that. And if I would give my kids advice, I would say, “follow your heart, because if you do, you become decent at it, and you’re likely to succeed.”
Editor’s Note: VeloNews attended a two-day meeting in Stockholm with POC, other industry professionals, and journalists to review prototypes prior to the Tour de France. POC provided travel expenses to attending media, including airfare, lodging, and meals.