It’s as important to listen as to not listen – founder of Najell talks about their first five years
Karin Stigbahr, Communications Manager at Ideon Science Park, Sweden, talks to Niklas Najafi, the founder of one of their resident companies about their first 5 years.
You celebrate 5 years, how did you get started?
My brother had gotten his first child and one night, my wife and I were trying to put their girl to sleep for the night. She could only fall asleep if we carried her, but every time tried to put her down in her bed, she woke up. Me and my wife started talking with other parents and realized that many had the same challenge, we saw an opportunity to solve this problem. From this, SleepCarrier was born, which is still our most popular product. In connection with that, I began to look around for support on how to start a company and got in touch with Ideon Innovation, where I joined the incubator program in in 2013.
During the first year I focused on product development and started selling in the summer of 2014. It took a lot of time to build a network and find suppliers and manufacturers. The good thing about Ideon Innovation was that there were many entrepreneurs who were very active and dedicated, we supported each other.
Who else is working in the company?
We are two full-time employees, myself and Anna Lagesson. We also have a trainee and we are looking to hire a resource to work with our marketing and communication.
What does the process look like when you are developing your products?
Our product development is an open process. We include industry designers and architects, but also ask families as early as possible to test our ideas. At this point it is good to listen and to not listen, as we have to make the final decision ourselves about what will be a good product.
One example is how we worked with our Baby Carrier that was released this spring. The process was quite similar to that when we developed SleepCarrier, we talked to parents to understand their challenges in carrying their child. Most responded that carriers were difficult to use and did not provide sufficient weight distribution. We started to look at what we could improve, and from there came our Baby Carrier. Our goal is to create things that are decidedly better than what is available on the market.
What have these past five years been like?
The biggest challenge is to be able to manage a big and complex business with few resources. We sell to 18 markets and to be able to do it all with a small team is tough. The rewards come when we meet our customers and hear that they love our products!
Do you have any advice for those who are considering starting a business of their own?
My advice is to focus on the calculation. If the business does not look great in your simplest calculations, find something else to focus on. Everything will take longer than you think, so unless the deal looks good from the start, it will be difficult. But if the forecast looks good, well then you’re well on your way.
Zlatan has said; you should listen and not listen at the same time. You will meet many people who will tell you what to do, so pick and choose what you take to heart. You have to listen to yourself and find your own way, it is after all your business.
Don’t forget to have fun while you work! This important, because it’s tough and will take time, so make sure that you are having fun in the meantime.
What does the future look like?
Our main focus is on expanding our market, we want Najell to become a well-known brand among parents. This will allow us to grow and create more products.