Tarpaulin with contents on a terrace

Bag'in: It is important to have a brand that people remember

"You will never succeed if you don't dare to get help from others to develop your idea." Founder Kåre Normann Sekkesæter's best tip is to dare to talk about the idea with others. Among other things, he has received good advice from the Norwegian Patent and Trademark Office on how he can best protect his products.

It all started at Easter 2016, when he was to open the cabin at Hvaler after the winter. Together with his mother-in-law, Kåre looked at the outdoor furniture he had wrapped in tarpaulin six months earlier. The tarpaulin had been blown away, and only a few pieces of rope remained around the furniture.

"We thought we had wrapped this up well in the autumn, but it still didn't last. I thought there must be a better solution than this, but couldn't find anything on the market. Then came the idea to make something myself that could protect the outdoor furniture through an entire winter without it blowing to pieces," says Kåre.

Together with his mother-in-law, he made a plan. Kåre bought in materials and the mother-in-law then sewed the first prototype of a storage bag for outdoor furniture. Eventually, they tested the prototype on their own and their neighbours' outdoor furniture, and the reaction from the neighbors was very positive.

Is this a problem for the customer?

"When people say 'I need one like that too', then you know your idea has good potential!".

Kåre knocked on over 100 doors around the neighbourhood, to people known and unknown, to ask if he could pack up their outdoor furniture. In this way, he gained insight into both the types of outdoor furniture people have, and not least whether this was a product that people themselves needed and would pay money for.

“Of the people I spoke to, over 70% were willing to buy a bag as soon as I got it into production, without even knowing the price or what it would look like in the end. I then realized that I had a product with a very large potential.”

Kåre established a company, and then began a long journey of over two years with testing and failing various materials, design and development.

A good team

Kåre knew from experience that the best companies consisted of teams that complemented each other in terms of experience and competence, and in 2017 he brought Krister A. Pedersen with him. Krister then worked as CFO at XXL, and had the background the company would need in strategy, commercialization and internationalization in addition to strong expertise in finance.

On the list, Kåre also had an acquaintance who was good at design, marketing and digital surfaces, Øivind Solgård-Jensen. "You don't need to know what he doesn't know about digital marketing, advertising and websites," smiles the entrepreneur.

Both Krister and Øivind eventually bought into the company, and began actively working on the product together with Kåre.

– I've always said that I'd rather own something of a company that becomes great than 100% of something that doesn't become anything. It is also the mistake many entrepreneurs make - they are terrified of giving up shares. Promotions are great for getting the right people. In the picture from the left: Øivind Solgård-Jensen, Kåre Normann Sekkesæter, Krister A. Pedersen. (Photo: private)

Kåre Normann Sekkesäter

founder Bag'in

image of three men with a bag marked Bag'in

Kåre Normann Sekkesäter

founder Bag'in

The team now has what they need to grow, to expand the product range, and to go international. What they do not have in terms of competence internally, they buy in. After two years, Bag'in hit the market – a product that solves a problem that many people have, and that people are willing to pay for. "It's been a tough journey both financially and personally, but it's been fun too," says the entrepreneur.

How did it go?

In 2018, Bag'in sold out of bags in two months, and had a turnover of NOK 3 million. In 2020, they sold for 17.6 million, and were sold out for parts of the season. In 2021, they aim to have a turnover of 47.2 million in the Nordics and the EU. The founder has great faith in further growth, and the turnover target in 2025 is NOK 400 – 500 million. The team is now working to raise capital from both banks and investors in order to produce more this year, and possibly increase production. The capital will also go towards building the brand internationally and strengthening the company with more employees.

Good helpers on the road

Early in the process, Kåre was tipped to contact the Norwegian Patent Office and supervisor Kenneth Bech. He got in touch to get tips on what he should do to protect himself. "At the Swedish Patent Office, I got help looking at opportunities for both design, trademark and patent protection, and I got good advice to take with him when he had to talk to an attorney about protection abroad. This has been an invaluable help. We wouldn't have gotten to where we are today if we hadn't gotten help from the Norwegian Patent and Trademark Office," says Kåre.

At the start, he got help from Norges Vel and Marius Sandvik to put in place a scheme called unemployment benefit during establishment that NAV has. Then you can get a simple salary for one year to work on the idea or project. Here, Kåre also received good help from Kenneth at the Patent Board.

Has taken the production to China

Bag'in now has more than 20 different models on the drawing board, all of which solve different problems. "We are building the foundations now, and then it is much easier to come up with new models later."

Production takes place in China. They use a partner who has worked with China for 20 years, and thus knows what is important to get a great product.

Sekkesæter is very aware of the importance of having good protection in the country where the products are to be sold, but also where the goods are manufactured. "When you move production abroad, it is extra important to protect the product, so that you can produce, export and sell the goods in the countries you want," says the founder.

It is important to build up a good brand

Kåre is concerned with protecting the products through a strong trademark.

Close-up of a bag for wrapping tarpaulin with the name Bag'in
- When someone is successful, copies follow. Then it is important that we have a brand that people remember, says Sekkesæter.

Bag'in has now built a platform with over 20 models.

"We have started with the storage of outdoor furniture because it is a huge market. Then we come with a separate trampoline bag now. It will be interesting. A bag in which you can pack all the trampoline parts, and which fits all trampolines. Simple and brilliant, because it solves a big problem for those who don't know where the trampoline parts should be stored or where they actually are."

Bag'in works systematically to build up the brand, so that people know that they have the original, while others who come to the market with similar products only have copies. The founder is very concerned that the product should have value for the customer - does this solve a problem for the customer, and is the customer willing to pay for it? "Everything we do in Bag'in is based on the philosophy: If it has value for the customer, it has value for us," he says.

New owners

In 2023, Bag'in was acquired by Jotunfjell Partners AS, and is now part of the Spaxo family. They sell, among other things, pizza ovens, outdoor fireplaces, spa equipment and outdoor showers. The intellectual property rights have been transferred to the new owners.

Kåre's most important entrepreneurial tip: Talk to others

Founder Kåre Normann Sekkesæter has one piece of advice in particular for other entrepreneurs who wonder whether they should put their idea into practice: Don't be afraid to tell others about your idea.

  • Share with others, but talk to people you trust. You will never succeed if you do not dare to get help from others to develop your idea.
  • Get input from friends and acquaintances, and good helpers such as the Norwegian Industrial Property Office; those who work at the Norwegian Patent Office have a duty of confidentiality, so they cannot say anything further.
  • Dare to tell and dare to be challenged. Don't take it personally if someone criticizes what you do. Rather, ask what is not working. Be curious.
  • Make sure you get more people on the team with whom you can build the company. Complementary skills are very important.

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