This week on The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, Wes interviews Sassa Akervall, Owner and CEO of Akervall Technologies — a company known for producing ultra-thin, ultra-strong and remarkably comfortable sport mouthguards and night guards. Akervall’s sport mouthguard is highly respected, having become the official mouthguard of the US Mens’ and Women’s Lacrosse Teams, official partners with CCM Hockey Equipment, and more. At CES 2019, Akervall even debuted a smart mouthguard that measures head impacts. Akervall Technologies’ innovations have earned the company a trio of Inc. 5000 awards and a variety of other awards, including the 2019 Best Small Business of the Year by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.
However, despite its success, Sassa herself describes the company as a “fluke.” In fact, the signature mouthguard wasn’t even discovered until Sassa’s husband — an esteemed ear, nose, and throat surgeon — decided to repurpose a homemade mouthguard used in his operating room for their daughter’s use in her field hockey activities. On the podcast, Akervall recaps the entire story of how she and her husband stumbled across a great idea and were ultimately compelled to put their money where their mouthguard was.
The EnTRUEpreneurship Takeaway:
“Don’t you think that’s an entrepreneur — when you do it your way to get where you want to go? You have to be a creative thinker."
“I’m incredibly proud of the fact that I’ve contributed to Michigan’s economy — and the U.S. economy, really. Coming from being an immigrant and just taking part in what this great country has to offer and then being able to give back in such a manner — it’s an honor."
“That’s how [my company] all started — by understanding that we had something on our hands that might help people and might be a cool journey. Which it still is."
“Surround yourself with people smarter than you."
“The people that you love and work with at one point in your career or in the business development may not be the right fit later on."
“We outsource everything, but our present manufacturer is literally across the street. It’s good to keep it in the neighborhood, right?"
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
3:01: Sassa describes her upbringing in Sweden and how she didn’t see entrepreneurship as a career path until later in life.
6:33:: Sassa discusses the inception of her company — Akervall Technologies — and how its birth was nearly a fluke.
8:28: Akervall explains how her company’s mouthguard is differentiated from competition and why people took to the product so well.
9:53: Akervall describes how her company’s sales picked up momentum and the events leading up to selecting its first main target audience who remains loyal to this day — roller derby.
11:41: Sassa reflects on her company’s earliest days — outsourcing manufacturing but handling packaging from her kitchen floor.
16:21: Sassa discusses the events that forced her company to start scaling up.
19:00: Sassa explains how her company’s mouthguards went from being sold at roller derby events to eventually being carried at retail stores.
24:31: Akervall shares the pride she feels in seeing how far her company has come and highlights the biggest “win” for her company that she most enjoys celebrating.
25:30: Akervall gives a trio of good tips that she’s learned on her personal entrepreneurship journey.
Bullet List of Resources –