Founder Stories: Olivier Momma On Building Ekster
In today’s Founder Story we feature Olivier Momma, the Founder of Ekster!
Read on for lessons he’s learned from launching and marketing his business.
1. Ekster – making “Better gear for life on the move”
Ekster’s mission is simple: to make better gear for life on the move. Olivier and Rick started their path on this mission by taking the traditional bifold wallet and throwing it on its head. What they eventually created was a slim smart wallet that responded to the needs of the 21st century. It holds cards in a vertical stack inside the RFID-protected metal cardholder. Olivier and Rick invented a patent card-ejection mechanism that displays your cards in a staggered fashion at the push of a button, making every interaction with the wallet easy and streamlined.
They went one step further by inventing a solar-powered Tracker Card, about the size of a credit card, thus becoming the first to solve the “lost-wallet problem”. Any product with a hidden Tracker Card inside is connected to a global lost-and-found network, meaning if it goes missing, you can find its location on a map, ping it or even use Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri to locate it. Several years later, Ekster’s line of products has evolved to include phone cases, trackable key rings, and much more.
2. The backstory behind how Ekster was born
Olivier grew up moving every 5 years in such countries as the USA, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and more. He met Rick during a Fulbright scholarship in the US and it was here they discovered a shared frustration with modern wallet design and everyday essential gear in general.
While living in Hong Kong, Olivier noticed that Asian countries were converting rapidly to mobile payments while the US and Europe still use a mix of cash, cards, and checks. He couldn’t find a wallet anywhere that matched the rapidly changing payment landscape, so the idea: design the next generation of wallets.
Oliver and Rick started as two Dutch guys with an idea, doing business calls out of a University classroom, and banking on our belief that we could make wallets better. Then, after a record-breaking crowdfunded campaign we went from simple students to business owners, to the founders of an international company in just 5 short years. During each year, Ekster has doubled its profits and now has over 40 employees across the world.
3. How the founders prepared for the launch of Ekster
Ekster started as a grassroots, DIY project with little to no budget. Olivier and his small team of friends and family drew up concepts and handmade prototypes, shooting all their own marketing content and designing their Kickstarter campaign from the ground up. Olivier also utilized his network of peers to gather ideas from their experience. He also relied on doing his own market research and benchmarking other brands and their campaigns. Once Ekster really took off, the founders invested a lot of their budget into performance marketing and reached out to over 1,000 journalists manually to get the word out.
4. Marketing campaigns and designs that have helped attract and retain customers
First and foremost, creating well-designed, durable, and quality products is the foundation of Ekster’s business. On top of that, Olivier has worked to build a strong brand by focusing on consistent brand identity and messaging. He found that performance marketing channels like Facebook, Google, and TikTok have been crucial for attracting and maintaining customers. Influencer marketing has also been essential for Ekster’s brand performance, using the partnerships team to find suitable creators for posts. Another aspect of Ekster’s retention strategy relies on crafting personalized email and SMS outreach.
5. Brands that have inspired Ekster’s inception and growth
Two of the brands that have been inspirations to Ekster are Rimowa and Rolex. Olivier found that their strong branding and content strategy enabled them to really emotionally capture the viewer through creative storytelling. Allbirds has also been a brand Ekster aspires to because they had a similar DIY beginning that went from a Kickstarter campaign to a billion-dollar Shopify store. Allbirds also gave Olivier important ideas for how to cope with rapid growth including improving site speed, CRO, and as an example of an excellent Shopify webshop.
6. Marketing platforms/tools that have helped Ekster grow
Olivier’s favorite marketing tool for designing ads, emails, and other promotional content is Canva – it’s easy to use and lets Ekster’s team create beautiful, visually appealing designs quickly. Klaviyo is another tool that has been instrumental in streamlining Ekster’s email marketing game. It integrates seamlessly with Shopify and offers important data points on the customer that have helped Olivier pinpoint marketing strategies.
7. What inspires the founders
The ability to connect with new people around the world was instilled into Olivier from early in his childhood. He is motivated by the freedom that comes with running his own business, being able to travel, and expand his professional network. During his travel for business or pleasure he consistently gets the opportunity to encounter new experiences and people that push him towards further success.
8. Lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs
Olivier lives by the idea that one should never be afraid to share ideas or ask for feedback from people who have done it before. Benchmarking is the name of the game, and being inspired by other successful brands is also beneficial, he believes that stagnancy will get you nowhere so always continue to innovate. Ekster has benefited massively from looking at how other people run their businesses and trying to do it better.
9. What according to the founders of Ekster are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
Ekster would never be what it is today without taking some risks. Olivier believes that one of the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur is going out on a limb and backing yourself even when others might not. Another important quality for Olivier is pushing boundaries.
When designing the wallet of the future, Olivier and his team completely reinvented what a wallet looks like and how it functions, and the entire brand’s success comes down to this first example of pushing the boundaries of design. A big part of pushing boundaries, taking risks, and always innovating is the ability to stay curious about the world around you and own your decisions no matter the outcome, through this you are able to best learn from mistakes without letting them destroy your confidence.