“Ekster offers your wallet stylish security against skimming and theft,” explains Olivier Momma from Ekster. Together with his friend Rick Scharnigg and his former boss Richard Canneman, Olivier leads Ekster, the super smart wallet. “Men’s wallets have never been a fashion item. But Ekster is different: people do want to be seen with one.”
What exactly is Ekster?
“Ekster optimizes and modernizes the use of products that everybody carries with them daily.”
What do you mean by optimizing and modernizing?
“Take a look at your wallet: there’s a big chance it’s a large leather contraption with many pockets, cash, and cards. It often takes a lot of rummaging to find what you’re looking for. Our smartwallet has a mechanism implanted that allows you to push a button to eject your six most important cards without having to open your wallet. It is covered with a layer that protects your personal data against RFID skimming.”
What is RFID?
“RFID is short for radio-frequency identification. This technology enables you to access and save information from a distance.”
How is Ekster different from other smartwallets?
“We offer the complete package; that’s unique, if you ask me. No other smartwallet combines the various aspects of both comfort and security. Also, we are the first in the world to develop a tracker that runs on solar energy — which is patented.”
How did Ekster originate?
“Ekster is the result of our frustration with the conventional product. I regularly purchase products via Kickstarter, and that made me realize there is a high level of interest for products such as wallets, but I did not find these products appealing. Together with Rick, I examined what we considered significant in an innovative wallet. That is how Ekster came to be.”
When did you see a future in Ekster?
“That was right after the Kickstarter campaign. The feedback we received from customers, the amount of orders, and the many positive reactions to the platform proved to us that our concept was viable. At a certain point, Ekster was the biggest smartwallet project in the entire world —and it went viral.”
How did you benefit from your participation in the Accenture Innovation Awards?
“During our participation in the Accenture Innovation Awards, we weren’t focused on the competition itself. But we still met many new people and expanded our network considerably. Maybe someday in the future we will sign up for the AIA again, when we are less busy.”
How did you guys get to where you are now?
“During my second year, Rick and I started doing research into existing projects, hoping to actually start developing the product in 2015. We also researched the market place and target audiences. When Richard joined, we launched on Kickstarter. After that, there was a production period of half a year. Our first batch consisted of ten thousand pieces of our product. As a start-up without any experience in production, this was quite the ordeal.”
How many products have you sold by now?
“There are fifty thousand people all over the world who currently own one of our products.”
Is production still your biggest challenge?
“Nowadays, the problem is not production, but it’s more about the amount that is requested. This sometimes means that we have to disappoint people and say no. We have a long list of distributors and retailers who want our products: there are orders requesting thousands of units. We stall these orders until we are confident we can handle the amount requested.”
What trends do you notice in articles of everyday use?
“The most important trend is that people are using cash less and less. It is becoming more popular for people to pay by card, but also Wi-Fi and smartphone payments are becoming more common. Additionally, we notice people are opting for products that are practical, compact and stylish. Ekster is capitalizing on these trends.”
What does the near future hold for you?
“We are launching new products in September, among which is a product line for women.”
When will you be satisfied?
“When everybody is walking around with an Ekster product.”
What is your million-dollar advice for entrepreneurs?
“When launching a product, I can 100 percent recommend you use a platform such as Kickstarter for your business. This is the superior way of doing market research for your company. You can gather information from the market place, specific information on your target audience, and this allows you to determine the rest of the future of your company. You will receive a lot of useful data for little money.”