“It worked halfway”, he says with a smile. “It was far from optimal and reacted at the wrong temperature. But we had no options.” So they jumped into a car and set off through Europe, to Germany, Switzerland and Italy. And on their way home they had orders from all these countries. They had sold 80-100.000 silicone bands that were neither perfect nor really existing.
Last Wednesday (17th of October) Edon Ramadani was appointed Årets Unga Entreprenör Skåne 2018 (Entrepreneur of the Year, Scania 2018). Info Express managed to get an interview.
Everyday Baby, or Everyday Solutions as they were then called, won Challenge 2016. Then all three cofounders and owners – Edon Ramadani, Andreas Bengtsson and Fredrik Persson – were winners. This time, though, only Edon Ramadani was nominated. When I ask him why, he hesitates. He guess it is because he is the one having been nominated – by whom he doesn’t know – and not for any other reason. As he sees it they are all three equally valuable to the company. It might also be because he is the youngest of them. But when Edon now was appointed Årets Unga Entreprenör Skåne 2018 (Entrepreneur of the Year, Scania 2018) he knows they will all three benefit from it. He recalls how much the win in Challenge 2016 meant to the company, opening doors, making contacts and other things.
Edon, Andreas and Fredrik met when they all studied marketing and sales on an international level. There was good chemistry between them already from the start. They knew they wanted to start a company together. However, at that time there were no concrete ideas, so they all started successful careers within other companies.
But the thought of a mutual company was always there and when Edon and his girlfriend started thinking about having a baby, he – meticulous and curious as he is – gathered all available information, and among those various baby magazines. In one of them a mum asked the doctor how hot the gruel should be. The doctor answered 37°C, but did not say anything about how the parent should know when it was 37°C. “Afraid as I am of bugs and germs, I would never put a thermometer in a baby bottle,” Edon smiles. “How are we to know if we don’t burn our child?” Slowly an idea formed in his head. He knew about substances changing colour in relation to temperature and he realised that here was a need that had to be met.
He contacted his old mates and after that they had many meetings at their then office, McDonald’s in Hässleholm. It was a long way, though. There are many technical details and a strict standard that need to be considered.
It was 2014 and the Olympic games in Sotji. Because of that plastic bracelets were handed out. And this was the start of the really good idea. They realised that they, at least initially, didn’t have to make complete baby bottles. A silicone band indicating temperature, fitting all baby bottles, was the perfect starting product.
They continued having their meetings at their special office in Hässleholm, but they decided to, for the time being, keep their jobs, as they had no financial support. But the company was founded, and with the advice and support from all experts they could find, they made a prototype of a silicone band.
“It worked halfway”, he says with a smile. “It was far from optimal and reacted at the wrong temperature. But we had no options.” So they jumped into a car and set off through Europe, to Germany, Switzerland and Italy. And on their way home they had orders from all these countries. They had sold 80-100.000 silicone bands that were neither perfect nor really existing. However, they knew they would fix it. And when it was time for delivery, the bands really were what they had promised. Almost two years had gone since the idea was hatched. But now everything moved fast. They appeared in big parts of Europe. “We really believed in our idea, and I think our enthusiasm spilt over on the distributors. They also believed in the product and they got it out via Premium chains around Europe. For instance via Kronans Apotek in Sweden, they got the product our to similar chains in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland etc. That was the real beginning.”
Then it was time to go home to their partners – Edon and his girlfriend were expecting a child at the time – to tell them that they were going to quit their well-paid jobs to invest in rubber bands for babies. But it may sound more dramatic than it was.
“My girlfriend is also very ambitious. I am very proud of her. She is a wonderful human being, understanding in every way. We share this feeling of ambition and innovativeness. She understands. She also has a job demanding a lot of time, although she is on paternal leave with our two-month-old daughter at the moment. We try to help each other a lot and she can put in a lot of time in periods while I put in a lot of time other periods. I think we complement and understand each other very well, and that has helped a lot, me and my company as well as her and the family,” Edon smiles. And of course such a woman understands the importance of pursuing one’s dream.
Before they dared to “throw themselves off the cliff”, as Edon puts it, they had created yet another product, a non-slip device for bath tubs that also indicates the right temperature, with the same technology as in the silicone bands. And now the new product development really kicked in. Since then, they have created a sunscreen indicator that – of course with colour – shows whether the sunscreen is still active, various glass bottles – baby bottles (i.e. the original idea), straw mugs, sipper cups, and drinking bottles for older kids (and adults) – that are all covered in a layer of silicone (which on the baby bottles of course changes colour depending on temperature), which both makes them not shatter when accidently dropped and makes it possible to make them much thinner and thus much lighter. The goal is to get rid of all plastics in their products, as it is harmful for your health as well as the environment. This has also led them to create a bib as well as a plate and cutlery in silicone (with a metal core in the cutlery).
With baby bottles – and nipples, which they have also created – their first product is soon to be history. If you can get hold of bottles changing colour, you are no longer in need of silicone bands. But of course there are ideas for new products. As these are still in the pipeline, Edon doesn’t want to present them yet, though. Thus, it is up to the reader to speculate.
Every year Everyday Baby exhibit their products at the world’s biggest children’s exhibition in Cologne. There they also meet most of their distributors. In addition they travel to meet their distributors. E.g. they have started selling their products in South Korea, and then they, of course, need to go there. They have done the same thing in other countries, as they believe that it is important to be supportive towards their business partners, being there for them and helping them with marketing and sales. “To be able to do that, we must know the various markets. And that is only possible through being there together with our distributors.”
But although all three founders are marketers and salesmen, they are not afraid of seeking help from the outside from time to time. “We do a lot ourselves, within the house. But marketing and sales is a very wide concept. We don’t know everything, despite the fact that we have studied it, love it and are very passionate about it.”
All three are also very passionate about new product development, and all of this is done in the company in Lund. But the production itself is in China. “In very good factories”, Edon adds apologetically.
Last year the company overturned SEK 1.6 millions and this year they are aiming to more than double that sum. Everyday Baby consists of three owners and four and a half employees and they are constantly growing. During their first three years they have focused a lot on new product development, but they are now facing a change, which means they will focus harder on marketing and sales. This of course does not mean they will stop developing new products, just as they did not avoid marketing and sales before. But the focus will be moved. This, in turn, probably means they will have to extend their staff considerably.
That they are three people owning the company together, Edon considers being only positive. Of course they do not always agree, but “that is developing on its own, what make us move forward”, and in most cases they do agree. A majority, i.e. two against one, is never decisive. “If we don’t agree, we postpone the matter and continue the discussion at another occasion.” They want to operate their company in the same way. Edon does not look upon himself as a boss, but as a colleague. He looks up to his employees, and he hopes they look up to him. They try to be as flat as possible; the goal is to have everyone aboard.
Edon Ramadani is 30 years. He is originally an Albanian and came to Sweden from Kosovo as a three-year-old, because of the Balkan War. His paternal grandfather was an artist and his maternal grandmother was also very creative, especially within cooking. He had good contact with them both and he thinks much of his creative streaks originate from them, genetically as well as in what he got to see and what they discussed. But also his parents have helped him a lot in his creativity. His father was a photographer in Kosovo, but got an engineer degree when he came to Sweden and as such he has contributed with several innovations. “It has made its mark, to think outside the box. I kind of have it in the blood,” Edon smiles.
But above all, it is probably his parents’ attitude that formed the basis to Edon’s entrepreneurship. Edon started working very early, distributing newspapers and selling May Flowers. “I loved selling May Flowers. I loved sales and doing business already at a young age.”
When he was nine he built his first own computer. His parents were very supportive and helped him buy the parts and were very positive to the entire project. But the most striking event occurred already a year before that, when he was eight.
He had long wished for a radio-controlled toy car and when he finally got one he was thrilled. However, soon after he wanted to find out how it worked. Thus he took it apart. The problem was he then did not know how to put it together again. He knew it was very expensive and he dreaded what his parents would say when they realised he had destroyed the car. But opposed to his dreads they were happy and very supportive and thought he was clever. They thought it was good that he wanted to find out how things work and they saw the whole thing as developing. As developing as leading to him building a computer a year later. With such parents it is maybe not surprising that he was appointed Entrepreneur of the Year, Scania 2018 some years later.
Up to ninth grade Edon was a good student, but during upper secondary school he lost focus a little as he thought developing websites and other things were more interesting. When questioned he says that he probably learned more outside than inside school during this period of time. The author of this article cannot refrain from reflecting on two entrepreneurs we have interviewed earlier, who both quit upper secondary, as they needed their time in their companies. Edon finished school, though, and, as said, also continued with higher education. But his focus was always on a life as an innovator and an entrepreneur.
In his spare time Edon above all likes to spend time with his family – girlfriend and two children – reading, outdoor activities and keeping his body in shape. Earlier on he practised karate and was quite successful, but nowadays there is not enough time why he has to settle with running.
He looks upon Everyday Baby as his child, something he has created and lived with, and for now he is quite sure he will continue working within the company until he retires, if he ever retires. “But you never know anything about the future. Much is unsure. But the one thing that is sure is that I will always continue being an active entrepreneur. But at the same time, it will never be at the price of my family. I see my family as more valuable,” he says. He thinks he will cut back on his somewhat unhealthy working hours that only allows him 4-5 hours of sleep. “But I don’t think it will ever come down to what is considered normal.”