Sunday, September 25, 2022

Find your market niche and go at it with persistence!

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

Popin world’s first foldable playground for in-home use!

How did you get the idea to Popin?

I always had love for folding and the art of Origami and pop-up books, then, after seeing my 2 sisters struggle to maintain their living spaces free from their children toys mainly because of large playthings like play kitchens and playhouses, I knew right there that if I can make these playthings foldable, It will help my sisters a lot, and probably others with the same pain. So I founded Popin to address this need.     

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?

Refining the final version of the products you see today took roughly 3 years of hard work. 

The first version of Popin was presented as my final project at Bezalel design academy, my teacher didn’t believe I could create a foldable cardboard play structure that can withhold a toddler’s weight, and when your teacher doesn’t believe in your project in a product design school, it would be an understatement to say you will have a tough time, but eventually, when he saw I am not going to give up and I succeed to create the first Popin product, a cardboard foldable slide, he gave me his blessings for the road ahead, this was a meaningful triumph for me, which gave what I needed to carry on. 

But that was just the beginning, it took many iterations to make the Popin slide more of a consumer product and less of a students project. In order to really do that, I had to validate the market first.

I single-handedly manufactured 300 slides and sold them in a Headstart campaign, (the Israeli Kickstarter), the reaction from the parents and children who enjoyed it was phenomenal, and showed me without a doubt that I have a real company in my hands, but all my energy was drained during the production and fulfillment process, it took a few long months for me to wake up from this limbo and get back on the horse, since then it works non-stop for me, I raised $350K in seed funding, grow the team, developed 4 new toy models, a table, car, playhouse, and kitchen, and just recently went on a Kickstarter campaign, presenting my work for the general public for the first time! (Check it out here:

Who is your target audience?

1. Parents living in dense cities – large cities with over one million inhabitants (in 2007, 1.7 billion people lived in cities with more than 1 million inhabitants – 23% of the world population).

2. Parents living in cold countries – POPIN allows kids the possibility to play active games at home in countries having difficult weather conditions, where the average annual temperature is 10 degrees and below – Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, etc.

We are here to help them overcome space limitation and provide their children with toys they could have never bought them otherwise.

What is the USP of your startup?

  • Durable and rigid – our products hold up to 50 kg, while competition is much more fragile 
  • Opens/folds in 20 seconds – no assembly needed! from play mode to storage mode in mere seconds. while the competition takes 15 min construction on average.  
  • Low environmental impact – While our competition uses plastic, all of Popin playsets are made of 100% recycled cardboard and can be fully recycled at the end of the use. 

POPIN has developed an innovative patent-protected product line of folding toys which allow children to enjoy the playground experience in small, urban apartments. The company is leading the field in in-home playgrounds, a field which is growing rapidly as part of the global urbanization process. With POPIN’s large durable toys that unfold and fold in seconds, even city kids can experience a full playroom in their tiny living room.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?

 As CEO and Head of the product of the company, I stir my days between product, marketing, sales, office work, and overview of the general strategy of the company. A typical day would be: talking the china factory in the morning, reviewing our marketing and sales stats from Kickstarter, brainstorm ideas for new marketing tactics at noon, and then dedicate some time for ongoing office management, talking to investors, finance, legal, etc.  After this Kickstarter ends I will have some time to get back to the drawing board and finalize my new designs, I can’t wait for this moment to arrive.  

Where do you see yourself and your startup Popin in five years?

Popin should fulfill its potential and become the leading brand in the “in-home playground” market (foldable/compact/easy-to-store playstes) a $3B market growing 5% per annum.

The flexibility of the material and our proprietary folding method StrongFold™ makes it easier for us to develop and execute new playsets models in very short development cycles, we intend to take advantage of this position and offer 6 new models each year, combine the growing pain of our target audience, the variety of foldable toys we offer, and our first mover advantage and you have a solid potential to win the market. In my biggest dreams, I see Popin as the “Ikea of toys, and I don’t rule out the option of a retail store that offers save-saving product and furniture for children. 

As for me, I will play any role that helps Popin reach that goal, currently as CEO, and in the future when we show stable growth, head of R&D. 

What 3 tips would you give other Startup founders on the way?

  1. Find your market niche and go at it with persistence! there is nothing more important for entrepreneurs then PERSISTENCE, it always comes down to this. Persistence means it’s you’re 10’th startup after nine failures and you still keep going! eventually, nothing beats persistence.   
  2. Don’t fall in love in your product, that’s a hard one, and I need to constantly remind myself of that, but it is extremely important to keep an open mind when assessing the reason something is not going well as expected. It could be the product, and you might have to do drastic changes in it, although you know it’s perfect and the crowd in an idiot to not understand. 
  3. Don’t wait until your product is ready to go to market, or as a mentor once told me, “if you want to build a car start with a bicycle first”, make your MVP, and test it with a small local launch to validate your idea and move forward from there.   

More information you will find here

Thank you ORI MISHKAL for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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