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Most accidents happens in your home. Six young entrepreneurs wanted to do something about it!

The team behind the stair climbing aid AssiStep
The team behind the stair climbing aid AssiStep
Estimated reading time 4 min. Published 24.08.2018
TRONDHEIM: In Norway, around 50 people die each year due to stair falls. In addition, 30,000 require medical aid after hip fractures and other injuries. Those were the hard facts facing the students at the NTNU School of Entrepreneurship (NSE) in 2012 and 2013. Halvor Wold and his fellow students worked for a week on this issue, and were struck by its magnitude. (This is a translation based on an article by Anders Horntvedt, originally published in Finansavisen on March 5, 2018.)
Increasing revenue

Up until now, the solution to this health hazard has mostly been limited to stair lifts, home rebuilding or moving to an institution.

  • “The commonality of these solutions, is the fact that they are very costly. They take time to put in place, and they contribute to making the population more passive,” says Wold, CEO of the entrepreneurial company Assitech AS.

Their alternative is a sort of stair walker helping people with limited mobility walk the stairs.

In mid 2015, the company launched the solution in Norway. In the last two years, the company has expanded to Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.

Viral video

The idea of the stair walker is not just to prevent fall accidents, but also to enable each individual to manage his or her daily life.

The system costs around 30,000 to 40,000 kroner fully installed.

  • “With an aging population, activity and independence are keys to giving people the opportunity to keep living in their own homes,” says Wold.

Before christmas, the product got unexpected amounts of attention. On its Facebook page, the company published a video of a six year old boy with cerebral palsy.

  • “He had never walked the stairs alone before, and this was the first time he had the opportunity to be completely independent. It gives a feeling of accomplishment that’s hard for us to understand,” says Wold.

The video went viral, and has now been seen by millions of people on Facebook, without the company spending a single krone on marketing.

Veterans on the ownership side

Last year, the company took in Sprettert, the Stavanger group of investors. The group consists of Christian Rokseth, Erik Ålgård, Halvor Øgreid, Magnus Jepson and Jo Håvard Borsheim, who all in their own way have succeeded as entrepreneur.

Christian Rokseth sold the smartphone Pixavi to German Bartec in 2014, and Dagens Næringsliv estimated a price tag of 100 million kroner Rokseth’s 51 percent ownership stake.

Magnus Jepson, for his part, is a co-founder of WooCommerce which was bought by Wordpress. According to Stavanger Aftenblad, the sales sum was well above 200 million kroner, and Jepson owned half the shares.

  • “In 2017, we gathered about 3 million kroner through issuing shares. Existing shareholders also took part in this round of funding,” says Wold.
Woo Commerce-founder Magnus Jepson
Pixavi founder Christian Rokseth
Working on new products

The six employees of the company are now working on development of new product areas.

- What do you look like five years from now?

  • “Then we will have a wider product portfolio, with other aids fulfilling important needs related to being able to keep living at home. The AssiStep brand will be synonymous with the class of products it represents in the most important European markets.”

- What dark clouds do you see on the horizon?

  • “None in particular. At this time, we have many users who love the product, and are very willing to volunteer to tell their story in video stories that have been made. The satisfied clients are the most important prerequisite we have to creating growth both in- and outside Norway.
  • “Video has been an important tool for us in Norway, and we’re also getting started on this in Germany now.”

In mid February, employees travelled to Austria to attend the first AssiStep installations there.

  • “We are now hiring people dedicated to work with market development in Germany, and after years of hard work we have been taken in by NAV Assistive Technology Centers in Norway. To date, we have delivered more than 200 AssiStep systems in Norway through our distribution partner Hepro,” says Wold.

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