The Ride Towards A Zero Emission Society
In This Podcast
- Why CAKE is the opposite of motorbike culture
- The global rise of IKEA
- Being purposeful without expecting payback
- Take a break
- Be respectful, be patient, take action
- The importance of caring leadership
Stefan Ytterborn is an experienced entrepreneur, he’s the founder and CEO of CAKE. And after more than three decades as an influential force in design and product development, he is now four years into his newest successful venture – CAKE. It’s an electric motorbike company that wants to help the world on the journey to a zero emission society.
When Motorbikes Meet Science Fiction with Stefan Ytterborn
Stefan Ytterborn has had a long career as an entrepreneur, promoter and strategist within contemporary and industrial design and communication, covering all segments of the value chain, being responsible for developing more than 2,000 consumer products.
He founded POC in 2004 with the mission to ”save lives and reduce the consequences of accidents for skiers and gravity sports athletes, by developing better and more accurate protection”. Committed to high-end product development from day one, POC is one of the strongest brands within its markets, present in 45 countries worldwide.
His current work, CAKE, combines all of his previous experiences with the interests that matter most to him, and that he’s passionate about. CAKE combines excitement with responsibility, inspiring thrill seekers to find a cleaner, quieter, zero emission ride.
“When I first encountered an electric motorbike, I was like, this is gonna flip the motorcycle space upside down. It pretty much represents the opposite of the traditional combustion ending culture – it’s clean, it’s crisp, it doesn’t disturb.”
The best bit about CAKE is it’s basically accelerating the transition from combustion engine vehicles for transportation, to electric.
The bike itself is powered by clean, electric energy. The weight is dramatically reduced and the bike itself is almost silent. What started out as a hobby has fast turned into a business. People who never dared get on a motorbike before can ride one of these – as Stefan says, if you can ride a bike, you can ride one of his electric bikes. They’re not just for a cohort of motorbike enthusiasts, they’re inclusive, for everyone. Even better, they’re looking to make the bike solar powered.
“So, we’re doing a project in Africa right now, where two standard solar panels are charging the bikes in the field, and actually serving these bikes with a full day of running these bikes.”
When motorbikes meet science fiction
When Stefan first set to work to understand the opportunities that fossil free energy sources such as solar energy afforded to light vehicles, he said it was like science fiction, only it was happening for real.
And now he’s developing new platforms to support the transportation transition in cities around the world toward clean, electric commuting bikes.
“What I try to do is always about quality, performance, to support permanence. If you want to be true to the concept of sustainability, it’s not only how you power your bike, it’s about the permanence of the bike as well.”
From anti-poaching bikes in Africa, to racing bikes in woods, to polar bikes in northern Sweden, all of that experience is being transferred into consumer bikes, to benefit society as a whole, to the planet and to users, through durability, longevity, sustainability, and a much more holistic perspective.
Innovation and bringing purpose
Stefan has always been interested in innovation, social perspectives, design, and bringing purpose. He credits his mother for his constant desire to improve space.
“Identity wise, I had a really great moment in life in my early 20s, when, for whatever reason, I was tremendously inspired and interested in the late baroque, late 1600s.”
He took inspiration from these different times, and brought it with him throughout his whole career.
“Trying to decipher what today and the future might be has a strong influence on what I decided to do and how I run my projects.”
Having had a career that started in the 1980s, Stefan has the benefit of experience, and for him the long term solution for business is patience.
“I think that there’s so much on our shoulders that we need to be honest to that or to be obliged to, which is basically being able to combine the longer term perspectives and avoiding the cannibalising, and capitalising fiercely on sudden opportunities.”
For Stefan, companies that do good need to be supported in their work of doing something purposeful without the intention of payback tomorrow. Whether that’s through taxation, regulations or legislation.
Companies must bring purpose or die.
“We need to be respectful. We need to have patience. But there has to be action. Be patient, be humble, be respectful, but do what you need to do. It takes action, it takes traction, it takes speed. So don’t wait for things to happen. But you also need to be humble to processes and that things do take time. So be nice and be good, but be fast.”
And collaborate with people who believe in what you believe in. Companies are, right now, our best instruments to create change. They have systems in place that work. That are replicable.
Good leadership is about being able to say no, to have integrity, and a standpoint that you represent all the way. Even if it’s hurting your sales, or turnover numbers, or long term returns. It’s what’s going to attract the right sort of people.
What does the world need most right now?
Kindness. The world is in desperate need for kindness, Stefan says.
“It’s a naive way of expressing my frustration, but we need to be open and searching to connect with the different, the opposite, the unknown, to understand perspectives and unknowns, and to merge that with our concept of what we believe.”
If the talk resonates with you, we’d recommend you listen to this episode too: Bob Chapman