Akervall Technologies won the advanced materials category at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition earlier this week for the second year running. But that's the least of what the startup is excited about these days.
The Saline-based mouthguard manufacturer has spiked its sales by 60 percent over the last year and it’s on pace for similar growth in 2016. It is also looking at launching a handful of new products to help it grow even more.
"We think we can sustain our growth rate," says Sassa Akervall, CEO of Akervall Technologies. "We are the bottom of the hockey stick and it (the company's growth) is about to take off."
The 6-year-old company’s primary product is the SISU Mouth Guard
, which is marketed toward athletes as a stronger alternative that is both lighter and less obstructive that traditional mouth guards. SISU is a popular word in Finland that roughly translates to "determination, strength, resilience." Other products include the SOVA mouth guard which is designed for people who grind their teeth in their sleep.
Akervall Technologies has been based out of Sassa Akervall's basement in Ann Arbor until about a year ago when it took over a light-industrial space in Saline. It now employs a staff of 17 people and a summer intern. It has hired five people over the last year, including research scientists and marketing professionals.
Akervall Technologies made the finals of this year's Accelerate Michigan
, the state’s largest business plan competition for startups. Winning the advanced materials category comes with a $25,000 cash prize, which Akervall Technologies plans to use to help purchase production equipment.
"It just sharpens your mind," Akervall says of Accelerate Michigan. "If helps you figure out how other companies think."
Akervall Technologies plans to launch its next-generation version of the SISU Mouth Guard that is stronger than the current version in the first quarter of next year. It is also planning to launch some other products later in the year.
Source: Sassa Akervall, CEO of Akervall Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.