Meet October's speaker Erik Thorstensson

Interview by Terese Mörtvik

Our speaker for the month of October is Erik Thorstensson, serial-entrepreneur and Maker of Things. Erik is behind such brands as Strawbees and AssSavers and with the theme for this month being pioneer, few things would be more fitting than a genuine inventor on stage. We caught up with him for 10 quick questions before Friday.

Who is Erik Thorstensson?
I’m a slightly crazy maker from Sweden that somehow got thrown into educational technologies. I build things for no reason at all and sometimes they turn into interesting things. 

What inspires you?
People who are passionate about sharing their ideas and having fun.

How do you become a Maker of Things?
You start making ridiculous things just enjoying yourself. 

What’s the first thing you ever invented?
An incredibly shitty transformer made from a mix of old toys. 

AssSavers is such a peculiar name, who came up with it and how did the discussion go?
I can hardly remember now, but AssSavers as a project was aimed at just having fun and getting to travel and working with bikes. We needed a good brand name people would remember that conveyed the functionality in some way, and saving our wet asses was what it did and I think Staffan came up with it. We were a bit afraid that stores wouldn’t want to sell it (our Australian contacts said we can’t sell this profanity in stores), but it worked out quite opposite. 

Being an entrepreneur has its fair share of challenges, can you tell us about one you’ve faced over the years and how you overcame it?
Lots of them. Surviving growth and getting food on the table are the two biggest ones. The bank told us to grow slower, we chose to cut other costs and grow faster. 

What’s your best advice to people wanting to make it in the start-up world?
Find people you can work well with that have the same Grit but different skillset from you. Grit is everything, enduring the inspiring but painful startup years demands confidence and believing you can make it more than the product.  

Strawbees seems like a lot of fun, what’s the most ambitious thing anyone’s every built with it?
Hard to pick what’s most ambitious but our Japanese colleagues just built their entire booth in Strawbees. Crazy. But we have seen big flapping drones, Tensegrity Ferris wheels and massive robots popping up all around the world. 

Where would you like to have a cup of coffee with a stranger at 4 o’clock in the morning?
On a night train on the way somewhere so we can start a parallel journey because we randomly ended up needing coffee just then, that morning. Serendipity is amazing.

Why do you do what you do?
Humanity has so many problems to solve in an ever faster changing world. We don’t know what you need to know tomorrow so to learn how to learn, build creative confidence and empower future problem solvers is an incredibly important task, and one that I both love and seem to be good at. Easy choice :)

Sounds like a worthwhile effort to us. Thank you, Erik. Looking forward to seeing you up on stage on Friday. 

The FREE tickets for October’s CreativeMornings event are up for grabs at https://creativemornings.com/talks/erik

Image: Creatables
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Interview by Terese Mörtvik