Wherever you are, you should be able to recycle. That is the idea behind Bodenföretaget Sortify. Which is now stronger than ever.
When Victoria and Stefan Strömbäck met, they were both poor students. They dreamed of becoming entrepreneurs but lacked an idea.
– When we decided to start a business, we started brainstorming every morning at the breakfast table. One would come up with an idea and the other would nullify it. The process took about six months, until we hatched a trash can that would allow source sorting in a public environment outdoors, says Victoria.
That idea could not be substantiated. They had nothing to lose so they invested and sold everything they owned, that is, Stefan’s motorcycle. Victoria wrote a business plan that won the regional final in the Venture Cup, they received innovation grants from the county administrative board and financial help from Boden municipality. And so they started developing their first prototype.
The first trash can with the same name as the company (Sortify, from sort in four) came on the market eleven years ago. Since then, the product catalog has grown and the business today stands on three equal legs; trash cans for outdoor use, public indoor environment and hotel rooms.
– It is such a joy and satisfaction to see something you have sketched on a napkin, sand or snow become a reality. It’s an absolutely fantastic feeling, says Victoria.
Every year, the couple goes on six Swedish tours where they meet existing and new customers. There are three months in a hotel every year.
– You get an occupational injury and start evaluating every single bin there is. We started teasing the hotel trash cans and especially the plastic bag that adorns them. So we decided to produce a wastebasket that allows sorting and is bag-free. Because the plastic bags must be removed, says Victoria.
The result was Papaya which came in 2017. Last winter, Sortify signed a major agreement with Nordic Choice Hotels, which will buy them when they build new hotels, renovate or redo.
– It was a three-year struggle to row that agreement and it is very big for us, says Stefan.
The agreement also led to the company moving to a new and larger premises last winter and plans to hire more people.
– Sales have steadily pointed slightly upwards and it is probably the last three years that we have really received a reward for the effort when the curve points straight upwards, says Stefan.
He and Victoria believe that the success is partly due to their focus on sales but also on product development based on feedback from customers. The bins have started to sell themselves and the couple notices a positive change in society’s view of source sorting.
– We conduct some kind of mission work, constantly. We have sorted at home, at school and at work for decades in some municipalities. There must be an opportunity to do it no matter where you are, says Victoria.
The environmental issue is a strong driving force and the concept of sustainability exists throughout the production chain. Papaya wastebaskets are made in Sweden from recycled plastic and aluminum, they last a long time and are completely recyclable. The boxes are also bought back from the customers to be used again and the Swedish tours take place with an electric car.
Among the customers are both the public sector and private players and the largest market is in southern Sweden. Therefore, for a while there was an idea to move south.
– But the more we have traveled, the more home-loving we have become. We have a good climate, we have nature and our cottages. We’re not moving. We have seen the whole of Sweden and we will be here, says Stefan.
– It’s about quality of life, the pace we enjoy and how people are, says Victoria. #
Stefan’s and Victoria’s advice to you who want to start a business.
1 / Dare to test. Do not be afraid to fail and be in debt because you learn a lot, just like when you go to school and take out a student loan.
2 / Do not be too secretive. Tell us about the idea and take advantage of all the feedback you can get.
3 / Do not listen to those who want to take down your ambitions.