Inside POC with Martin Söderström

Nov 22, 2017 at 14:26
by Ross Bell  




POC is a brand that is distinctly individual. The aesthetically minimalist lines and sharp appearance of their apparel and protective gear are easily recognizable, and after visiting their HQ in downtown Stockholm it’s not hard to see where this approach stems from.

An old red-brick, ex-industrial building with towering window panes is where the bulk of R&D, marketing, design, purchasing, and the financial staff are housed. Inside, is a bright and modern open plan workspace with a relaxed atmosphere and a gentle buzz, as clusters of smartly clad employees from various rolls discuss ideas and approaches. It’s clear that everyone here has a passion for design and safety that runs a lot deeper than simply churning out snow or cycling gears. Aside from the staff in Sweden who predominantly focus on product development and innovation, POC have another two main offices in the US and Austria who concentrate on sales.

Globally, POC are a 100 strong, split relatively equally through their main bases with around 33 working in Stockholm. The team crosses over into both bike and snow, with the majority of staff having an avocation in one of those sports, which apparently injects fresh ideas into both disciplines, bolstered by feedback from athletes on the world circuits, such as Robin Wallner and Zakarias Johansen of the Ibis EWS Team.

Co-founded by Stefan Ytterborn who, until a few years ago, was the company CEO, POC laid their foundations in the snow sport sector back in 2005 before expanding into mountain biking in 2008, noting that the two markets were similar in terms of location and with participants eager to wear protective gear. Road cycling then followed with POC aiming to shrink the disparity between bike and snow.

After a morning nosing through products, old and new, and discovering what makes POC tick, a certain Mister Soderstrom turned up. Pens, paper, and computers were swiftly ditched in exchange for a lunchtime thrash through the local trail playground of Hellasgården.

Inside POC
Trendy downtown Stockholm is the main base for POC and is where the bulk of product development takes place.

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
On the far right, the R&D team are assembled, working on projects up to three years ahead of the tables on the left, where the the marketing crew sit.

Inside POC

Inside POC
The modern open-plan work space is filled with eclectic memorabilia and new projects.
Inside POC
It's not hard to sense the influences and see the similarities throughout POC, whether it's their products or the office.

bigquotesWe started out in skiing in 2005/06, making only winter ski stuff. We started making cycling products in 2008/09. We started out from the gravity side of biking, which could be seen as an unusual choice. The reason for that is we saw a lot of cultural similarities with the skiers. Many skiers ride mountain bikes, but we also saw some infrastructure synergies there, with the big ski areas in the world, like Whistler, Are, and Hajfell, which in many cases were already or wanted to become major bike parks in the summer. We were already present in that environment. Many of the stores that sold skis in the winter and supported POC, also sold bikes in the summer.Oscar Huss

Inside POC
POC started off with helmets, as they say; "Protecting the head is the biggest chance you have to make a difference in the event of a crash."

Inside POC
The skiing and bike sectors crossover. with staff focusing on both sports.
Inside POC
After starting on the gravity side, POC has now entered the road market too.

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
Often helmets crashed during competition are sent back for analysis and frequently show trends in terms of crashes and impact locations.

Inside POC
Inside POC

bigquotesWhat we are doing is that we are applying this mission, saying that we should do what we can to save lives and reduce the consequences of accidents. That’s something we have been working on since 2005 when the company started. It’s really important for people to like what they see and want to wear a helmet or protection. The company was co-founded by Stefan Ytterborn and Jan Woxing who both have strong backgrounds in design management, working with the likes of Ikea, Volvo, Absolut (the Swedish powerhouse brands) connecting their design to their missions and trying to make it all make sense.Oscar Huss

Inside POC
Everyone in the office seems to have a passion in their relevant sports, but also keep a keen eye on a wider range of fashion, products, and markets that they may draw influence from.

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
Rider feedback is crucial to POC. They have worked alongside fellow Swede Martin Soderstrom for over ten years now.

Inside POC
It's handy that Martin literally lives just around the corner!

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
Frederick, one of the leading designers/engineers on the POC team, has his own room to create mock-ups of future concepts.

bigquotesYou can’t approach safety without talking about the medical aspects. To gather the competence of the medical field, we set up the POC Lab, which has been with us since day one. In that scientific forum, we have gathered the best brain surgeon we could find, the best spinal cord injury doctor, and so on. They are invaluable with their scientific feedback, When we ask searching questions about things we want to change, or if we see a phenomenon we think we should focus on, they look at the evidence and draw on their wealth of scientific and practical experience and say, "Yes, this is something you should prioritize;" or "No, this is something that requires little consideration at the moment."Oscar Huss

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
The HQ has a small store of materials they can use to make very early prototypes.
Inside POC
The soft goods and apparel are manufactured in a mix of Asian and European countries. For example, POC utilize German optic expert Zeiss's extensive knowledge in the manufacture of their eyewear.

Inside POC

Inside POC
POC's helmets are manufactured in China, as this is where they say the highest quality producers are found.

Inside POC
One of POC's latest technologies, "SPIN" is designed to reduce the potential injuries caused by rotational impacts.

bigquotes[Talking about the crossover between bike and snow] Everybody does everything, which is really nice, because almost all the office staff are into biking or skiing, which gives us a great way of looking at things. It helps bring across a lot of ideas from different disciplines. For example, a lot of the early mountain bike stuff we did was influenced by skiing, of course. We’d gained a lot from the high-end World Cup racing environment for protection.Damian Phillips

Inside POC

Inside POC
The Stockholm base has 33 staff, including the R&D team for both hard and soft goods. It is headed by Oscar Huss (center), who has been in the company since its early days.

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
More often than not, at lunchtime, the tools are downed and the team heads into the local trail playground of Hellasgarden.

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC

Inside POC
A ten-minute blast through the Stockholm streets, then straight on to some urban singletrack gold.

Inside POC

Inside POC
Although there aren't any massive hills, there is still plenty of fun to be found, as Martin demonstrates!

Inside POC

bigquotesSnow is still bigger than the bike side, but our objective is to be 50/50 within the next year or two. That’s where we want to go and we can definitely see it closing in, as we’ve put a lot of effort into the bike side (which of course means road, as well as mountain bike.) We’ve only really been involved in road since 2014, so it’s still really new in that sense. Mountain biking came earlier, because we had a product base to work from and it was easier to make that link with the gravity sport side.Damian Phillips

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
Damian Philips (pictured) says the trails, which are a stone's throw from the office, are great for product testing, with contrasting light conditions and plenty of roots and rocks to put their gear through the wringer.

Inside POC

Inside POC
Over the ten years Martin and POC have worked together, plenty of Martin's feedback has gone into their products currently on the market.

Inside POC
Inside POC


Inside POC

Inside POC
Inside POC

Inside POC
A ride in Hellas is best finished off with some grub...
Inside POC
...Although I'm told Indian takeaway is usually the preferred choice.

Inside POC
Better make the most of it boys, ski season is on the way!


MENTIONS: @rossbellphoto




110 Comments

  • + 79
 All those broken helmets that will now serve as oceanfill ! Urgh !!! They should’ve gone with aluminium !!
  • + 2
 hehe... good one
  • + 43
 We really need to start giving out comment awards...
  • + 9
 a biodegradable helmet with hemp shell and mushroom foam is possible
  • + 4
 I'm expecting a gigantic POC logo outside of their office building.
  • + 1
 @thinkbike: Urge makes great products out of recycled materials.
  • + 26
 since the world championship sponsoring incident they lost my attention..
  • + 4
 What happened?
  • + 32
 I would not call this POC's mistake - Swedish Cycling in the first place sold advertising rights it never owned to a company. from there it gets complicated.
  • + 46
 It was a messy situation for everyone involved but POC pretty unfairly got pinned with the blame. They were flexible and tried to be as transparent as possible in resolving the situation, even offering a €1 buyout of the contract to the teams involved... For whatever reason not everyone could follow through with it.

Excerpts from the Swedish Cycling Statement:

"Question: What has SCF done to resolve the conflict
Answer: POC asked us to change our position and waive our policy on August 15, 2017. As a consequence, SCF has presented an offer to the three teams involved to buy the rights for the Championships for a 1 Euro symbolic sum, so that the cyclists involved will be able to compete at the World Championships in Cairns, Australia, 5-10 September 2017."

"Question: How does the union's sponsor POC view the situation?
Answer: POC have publically stated that they are flexible and want to find a solution to the situation that has arisen (read more). They have already showed this flexibility and at the Olympics in 2016 they offered national cyclists the opportunity to use helmets and glasses from their own sponsors. The SCF has chosen to stick to its own position and interpretation of the UCI rules in the contract discussions and in the dialogue with the athletes and teams."

POC Statement:

news.pocsports.com/2017/08/16/poc-position-on-swedish-athlete-jenny-rissveds-not-attending-the-world-championships-in-cairns-australia
  • + 10
 Thank you for sharing this evolution of POC's position.
  • + 17
 @rossbellphoto: Thanks for that. Those who are ill-informed or forget the details of such stories (i.e., me and many others) will only remember that POC was involved in this at some point, so it's unfortunate for the brand. Business is a dirty business...
  • + 4
 That's the first thing that came to my mine as well.
  • + 5
 You guys have no ikea. Abba done with this argument.
  • - 3
 @nickkk: As I read the article "that office sure does look like an Ikea"
  • - 1
 @BenPea: some people like to fall for cheap drama because the concept of an opressor, the antagonist, makes it easier for them to justify committing to the stance they are leaning towards. So if you like TLD or Fox, and you are self unaware, possibly feeling guilt just before/ after buying a product, maybe have some indecision anxiety, then finding a stupid reason to toss crap at carb... sorry, POC makes your choice more justified and removes certain amount of angst. Then what can also be at play here is the empowering position of becoming a hero, especially when an opressed lady comes into play. You can go online and express how much you are on her side. You can appear as angry and ready to fight for her well being. Such action releases all sorts of reward systems in males brains since such behavior is evolutionary bound to gaining a sexual partner.

Signed: POCs greatest online fanboi
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: "Signed: POCs greatest online fanboi" Hiding the truth is sometimes best done by putting it right in front of people's eyes. Good work.

As for the rest, I can't argue (literally). I don't have any favourites, but adhere to a Dadaist approach to bikes. Grab/purchase what I happen to come across when I need it and if it stays in one piece for a while and works, then I'm a fan of that particular object, nothing more (ok, maybe I have a soft spot for a couple of brands but nobody's perfect, and there's no dogma). Certainty is a sure-fire way of being wrong at some point.
  • - 3
 @BenPea: I just bought the POC Coron. As most of my stuff: slightly used...
  • + 2
 @DARKSTAR63: your sir, have won the internet today
  • - 2
 @troyleedesigns: Huh? I didn't mean no wrong, I just used TLD as an example of a desired product. I am a fanboi of D3, in fact I'd prefer it over coron for smaller overall size and much better looks (the black carbon D3 ughhh), but it doesn't fit my head as well. I will miss D2. Had two of them.

I love it though how people think I am sponsored by POC. Got some funny PMs.
  • + 11
 My apartment is filled with IKEA furnitures, on top of my SKoda Yeti is Thule bike racks, I've got a cousin living in Sweden. It's time to buy a Volvo and wear those POC protectives, and swap my RockShoxes to Öhlins I guess?
  • + 2
 @KonaChina Volvo is Chinese now...
  • + 1
 @szusz: Haha, I know that buddy, but still they are the only available Swedish automobile brand I can buy in China. It time goes back to 20 years ago, I would definitely go for a SAAB.
  • + 1
 @KonaChina: what about www.lynkco.com ?
Also Volvo Wink
  • + 1
 @dellkid: I've read some reviews on Lynk & Co, and it looks pretty good. It's already on sale here in China. Actually Geely, Volvo's mother company, has a pretty good reputation in China, especially in the past 5 years or so. However, a V60cc is always on my wish list.
  • + 14
 So this is where they design the helmets that I have to sell a kidney for Eek
  • + 13
 I wish they would keep their prices as minimalistic as their designs...
  • + 6
 I recently contacted POC to order a small replacement part which was lost from a two-year-old helmet. My first email went unanswered. The second email was answered. POC stated my helmet had been discontinued and small replacement parts were not available. They recommended I consider getting a newer model as they recommend "replacing your helmet every 3-5 years." POC included a link to one of their $250 helmets. This experience taught me POC does not support their products through the intended lifespan. If POC did, they would have parts available 3-5 years following a discontinuation of a model. My helmet model was discontinued in 2016! Instead, they'd like us to continue purchasing their overpriced and apparently unsupported products. Now my helmet is useless due to a missing part which costs a fraction of a dollar to produce. I'll never buy or support POC again.
  • + 1
 I recently ordered a helmet from POC directly, after waiting a few months with no confirmation of the order i contacted them, I was then sent a tracking number as if they forgot to send it. I looked up the number and found my helmet was in route to Colorado (I live in Arizona). It was delivered and they could not figure out what happened and did not offer a replacement. I canceled my order and took my money to Leatt for a much better helmet anyways. Also not a future customer due to support.
  • + 1
 Better get in contact with the local FabLab and get the part 3d printed Wink
  • + 5
 @rossbellphoto Any ideas on how to get a hold of them. I've made several phone calls and sent emails to their US office about a backpack strap and have never gotten a person on the line or a reply to the emails. Super frustrating...I wont be purchasing anything from POC again at this rate...
  • + 3
 Have you called their US office? 1-801-365-5550. I had to exchange a product a few weeks ago and they answered really fast and got my new product coming really easily. thought their service was good.
  • + 5
 My experience with their product was a letdown. Their Crane pispot as much as it was comfortable to wear couldn't stand the test of time. The two-layer foam inside separated almost instantly and to add insult to injury the velcro securing it to the shell unglued itself in no time. All in all, the helmet aged in a couple of months as much as other helmets within years. All of this happened without any crashes.
  • + 7
 My POC goggles were both expensive and useless. Biggest bike purchase disappointment I've had to date.
  • + 7
 Well you know what Bill Gates said... "If you can't make it good, at least make it look good."
  • + 8
 They prefer to over inflate their prices, that’s how the show us they have great products.
  • + 2
 Or it's simply Swedish taxes, as with most Scandinavian products... Wink
  • + 8
 IMHO overpriced and overdesigned hipsterstuff.
  • + 4
 pay about 100 peoples wages to make prototypes on printers.
hash out some numbers on a computer.
Hire a doctor?
At European wages.
Then manafacture the helmets in China.
Your paying for all those people to work in a plush office.
Helmets probably cost 20$ to make in China vrs the 10$ walmart helmet.
  • + 7
 Sweet Protection, from Norway, makes superior helmets but they don't get much exposure in the mtb world.
  • + 2
 The Sweet Protection stuff looks really good. Just wish I could see how they fit in person before dropping that coin.
  • + 7
 sees POC's Stockholm office...knows why price tag is astronomical.
  • + 3
 Yeah man! It's like they're trying to make a profit or something! How dare they.
  • + 8
 Zeiss is not italian...
  • + 2
 yeah i was also scracthing my head over that phrase....
  • - 4
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 28, 2017 at 8:58) (Below Threshold)
 The proud Trentinians are here to tell you Vafanculo Arschloch!!!
  • - 4
flag AMGoran (Nov 28, 2017 at 9:14) (Below Threshold)
 Was looking for this comment, who would even thing that one of the bigest manufacturers of high end glass precision glas comes from italy. No offence to italians but they would not be able to do thing with the german attention to detail they would have made lenses with funny distortions but really nice to use.
  • + 2
 jzPV: The caption is fixed. POC uses Ziess's facility in Italy for its optical R&D, and that was the intended reference in the caption. Being an action photographer, I'm sure author Ross Bell knows that Zeiss is German.
  • + 5
 I thought the Italians gave up on manufacturing lenses because they couldn't figure out how to make them leak oil?
  • + 0
 @AMGoran: you have a very wrong idea about the italian engineering, tachnological and scientific capabilities, believe me...
  • - 2
 @Bruccio: @AMGoran - this is enitrely irrelevant. Putting Zeiss name on a Mountain Bike product is just a marketing bullshit. Oakley talked the crap out of that concept in the past. These are glasses and goggles for use in cycling, mountain biking in particular, that means, plenty of dirt and scratches. If it were glasses for shooting guns, bow, playing golf - I could buy that concept because these are rather clean sports where clear vision is indeed extremely important. So what I would be after when it comes to MTB eyewear would be durable frame with cheap ass lens so that they can be replaced often.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: totally agree. that said, i find oakley lenses to be of a very good quality. in particular, their PRIZM tech is amazing...i have a pair of PRIZM lenses on my Jawbones i use for enduro riding and as a dude with high light sensitivity i can honeslty say that they improve your vision along the trail. Zeiss makes SUPERB optics for photography and scientific instruments....i regularly use one of thei confocal phase contrast microscope for my research work and it's really a superior quality instrument. that comes at a cost, of course: around 250k €
  • + 3
 Somebody in POC's marketing department should've considered the potential benefits of their world champs sponsorship agreement vs. the potential to alienate a large proportion of their target market. I have two POC helmets at the moment but don't plan on picking up another one. In my eyes POC are currently sitting in bike industry purgatory next to SRAM (due to their Guide brakes that nearly killed me and their propensity to crank out incremental standards) and Schwalbe (for the magically disappearing Magic Mary).
  • + 1
 POC is the new Specialized! It is not the marketing people, this kind of decisions are made by lawyers and ultimately by the owners of the company. Buyers beware, low quality products at Cadillac prices.
  • + 0
 @OriginalDonk, @RedRedRe : You two obviously don't realize that POC had little to do with the world champs mess? And the athlete in question, that is Jenny Risveds actualy made a stement where she said that POC is not to blame! It was the stupid Swedish Cycling Federation that created most of this mess. You obviously didn't bother to look deeper into it, you didn't give any beneft of doubt to anyone, you just enjoyed chewing the dumb journalistic sensational pulp for idiots. And Pinkbike is slowly but surely getting good at generating inflammatory content. Like this latest bollocks with carbon.
  • - 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I'm sure every regular Pinkbike forum contributor is well aware of your penchant for contributing inflammatory content. I freely admit that I did not follow the Rissveds story closely after the initial announcement and learned about POC's evolving position in this forum. See my other post thanking a member for sharing the story. Nevertheless, marketing people in the bike industry need to be one step ahead of poor optics and POC definitely appears to have damaged their brand. That's my opinion as a non-POC internet fan boi.
  • + 1
 What is this about SRAM Guide brakes almost killing you? Please elaborate if you can...I just bought a bike that came spec'd with these and I haven't ridden SRAM brakes in years. Thanks!
  • + 5
 "smartly clad employees from various rolls"... what kind of rolls were they from? Egg rolls? California rolls? Kaiser rolls?
  • + 2
 Moral of the story: MADE IN CHINA. Just like every other F'in product. TLD: China. Fox: China SixSixOne: China.

Slap a F'in name on it, sell the design to a cheap-ass Chinese manufacturer, and laugh all the way to the bank.

Same exact SCHEME in the Sunglasses and Eyewear industry. over 90% of ALL Eyewear is made by?! LUXOTICA.

Look it up.

So what it boils down to is this: Find what fits, F' the name on it, and find what color you want. If the price is right, buy it. All the rest is bullshit marketing.

I absolutely love the POC Tectal helmet, not gunna lie.... but the more I look into this company the more it reminds me of Hipsterbucks.
  • + 4
 I'm worried about that Cervelo being too close to the radiator and something invisible and bad happening inside the carbon. And what @bavshredder said.
  • + 2
 Why don't these f*cking helmet companies make helmets for big guys like me? I just can't wear a midget sized helmet. Please make helmet sizes in xxl or xxxl,... I'm pissed of. In general nothing suits bigger and taller guys. I can't find some nice mountainbike shoes, helmet, gloves, jerseys,... Brands like POC, 100%, SixSixOne, Maloja and many more you simply can forget as an taller person.
  • + 2
 Get a nice water melon, hollow it out, hook up some straps, and there you go. POCs helmets are like $200. A watermelon costs like $1.99 in the summer.
  • - 1
 Buy a Dremel and a dust mask.
  • + 1
 @twozerosix: ...and negate the engineering that went into designing an effective helmet.
  • + 1
 @DemoN8 For many companies there is no ROI in manufacturing 'extreme' sizes. That's why Lennard Zinn (198 cm tall) makes his own bikes: because very few else would.

You have a business idea right there... or at least for custom sized helmets.
  • + 1
 Maybe if you don't react with so much anger, you will have less hot air in your head, and smaller helmets with fit?
  • + 1
 @DH-Angel: And that's where e-bikes come in!
  • + 1
 @CaptainSnappy: It is really a problem. Yeah, I know Zinn bikes. People are getting taller and taller. The bike industrie makes midget sizes,...
  • + 6
 Product Of China.
  • + 2
 Maybe instead than going for leisure rides they should spend time figuring out how to make a decent helmet?
During my testing, poc helmets, scored low grades in fitting and durability.
  • + 2
 I like the looks, their culture seems nice, but my helment's inside has come unglued after not a lot of time. Screw that with the amount of money you pay.
  • + 2
 I've owned three of their helmets, wouldn't wear anything else. The're expensive, but they're worth it for sure, both for skiing and riding.
  • + 1
 will someone think of the wrists! mouse in front and standing desks come on POC make Sweden proud!

also Söderström not using Öhlins. a dark day
  • - 5
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 28, 2017 at 9:01) (Below Threshold)
 These are indeed some dark days. Few more months my friend, embrace the mud and snow while the wind is packing them deep into all the holes in your body. As the May comes we shall rejoice riding and bathing in sunlight until 10pm. And all this mud in your butt will make you enjoy it even more. Gött mos!
  • + 2
 The POC paradox, pay an arm and a leg for their stuff and be unable to ride because you’re a double amputee...
  • + 1
 Is technology really state of the art when it is designed up to three years prior?
EDIT I get that these things take a long time to test/develop but that just had me thinking
  • + 1
 It’s odd. POC bike helmets just do not fit me. Not even close yet their ski helmets fit me well. Smith ski helmets don’t fit me but their bike helmets are great.
  • + 1
 I hope the coron air makes up for the damaged cortex I was delivered and never used!
  • + 2
 Love these warm and fuzzy "corporate team" stories. Just cant get enough.
  • + 1
 哈哈我就是中国人,我也知道POC头盔,只是在中国的销量不是很高,可能跟价格有关系。
  • + 1
 So is the secret to avant-garde helmet design wearing bucket hats and drinking out of 1000ml beakers?
  • + 1
 You know why they called Poc? If you drop them you hear the "POC" sound...????
  • + 1
 Piece Of Cake.
  • + 1
 Hahaha. Funny stuff. I like their shorts and jerseys, never was attracted to their ugly helmets.
  • + 1
 @Beez177: Yeah it's a weird name, too. Now if only I could find a helmet made by a company that used only numbers and a symbol for a name......
  • + 2
 Placed on cranium? Piece of crap? Pissed off customer? Pretty Orange colour?
  • + 1
 @Someoldfart: Piece Of Cake. Seriously.
  • + 1
 @CaptainSnappy: it’s a joke son. I own lots of POC gear and it’s very good stuff.
  • + 2
 @rossbellphoto you sir are quite gifted with the camera my brother.
  • + 1
 So that's where Stormtrooper are born
  • + 1
 I only read "Minimalistic" and "Protection".
  • + 1
 oooooh super star destroyer lego!
  • + 1
 Lunchtime rides with Martin Soderstrom.
  • + 1
 Wear our shit and become a walking billboard!
  • + 1
 Welcome to Capitalism.
  • + 1
 My wife tried almost 15 different kneepad, poc were perfect. 70€.
  • + 0
 I was there when they opened impressive shop in Chamonix- they started with beaucoup dollars.
  • + 2
 Yep, it's called 'startup capital' typically garnered from loans.
  • - 1
 In California, MIPS stands for Million Instructions Per Second, and POC is People Of Color. -Coastal Non-elite
  • + 1
 Wouldn't mind that.
  • - 2
 POC is just too pretentious for me. FOX is the way to go.
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