Jimmie Berggren, previous president of SACC-SD is today the CEO of The Humble Company USA. SACC got the opportunity to sit down for a coffee with Jimmie and get to know him better and his journey of doing business in the US.
Jimmie was born and raised in a town called Helsingborg in southern Sweden. Since childhood, Jimmie has had a passion for sales and marketing. As a small boy, he used knock on the doors in his neighborhood selling biscuits and during high school he was a kick-ass seller of tickets to student parties. After finishing high school, he decided to move to Malmö where he studied strategic marketing at Lund University. During the summers, he completed several internships at companies such as Forex and Nordea. After finishing his education, he got an opportunity to start working with finance at a credit company in Denmark called Kommune Kredit where he was responsible for settlement of a range of the company’s financial products. His career in finance continued and he eventually moved on to work for Danske Bank, where we had the opportunity to learn a lot about hedge funding and SWAPS. However, the strong desire to work with marketing was still there, which was why he did not say no when he was offered a position as marketing trainee with a software company called Simcorp. For five years, Jimmie got the chance to try out all the different departments of the company and he was learning a lot about sales and marketing. Furthermore, he had the opportunity to live and work in London for a couple of months where he worked on cases with HSBC, Lehman Brothers and other similar financial institutions. As the company grew, so did Jimmie’s role and he became the global product marketing manager, which meant that he was responsible for the company’s global product strategy. As part of this new role, he was involved in developing the strategy behind the company’s launch in Luxembourg.
You can tell that Jimmie is a person who is very goal oriented and bold, which is why it is not surprising that he then decided to go his own way and started his own business. In 2010, he started his own company where he worked as a consultant in marketing and sales. In this capacity, he worked on various projects ranging from fashion to pharmaceuticals. Besides consulting, Jimmie also developed and managed two online platforms.
Why San Diego? Jimmie has since his first trip to California had a strong desire to go back. He felt that in California everything is possible. ‘The people you meet are extremely driven, passionate and open-minded and the business climate is fast moving’ explains Jimmie. In 2010, Jimmie and his girlfriend decided to move to San Diego.
When they arrived in San Diego, they both studied for nine months at a business school in order to receive their OPT. During his education, Jimmie did an internship at consulting firm, which focused on cross cultural differences between companies. This was an interesting and worthwhile period, and the internship eventually turned into a paid position. However, it was also at this point, Jimmie decided to focus on his own passion for entrepreneurship.
In 2014 he started his first company in the US, called Strategy Superb. Jimmie and his partner worked as consultants Nordic companies interested in an expansion to the US market. Since San Diego is a cleantech hub and the Nordic region in an innovation leader in the field they focused specially on cleantech and life science companies. Besides offering consulting services the company also imported products from Sweden and sold them on Amazon. During this period Jimmie was also engaged in the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in San Diego where he was the president for two years.
As processes in the cleantech industry often tend to be complex and time consuming, in 2015 Strategy Superb expanded the numbers of industries they would consult in, the healthcare industry becoming very popular. They also started to focus more on long-term relationships with their clients, where they for example became the client’s country manager in the US market. This meant a lot of trips between the Nordics and San Diego. During the end of 2016, Jimmie came in contact with a client called The Humble Company, which produce an organic and sustainable toothbrush made of out of bamboo. They were very pleased with Jimmies work, and he and was consequently offered a stake in the company. Currently, he is the CEO of The Humble Company USA.
Now, if you know Jimmie at this point, you’ll figure out he is not the person to turn down a new exciting challenge. Not only was it the challenge that triggered him, also the fact that the company has a great social impact. The Humble Company has a foundation for children called the Humble Smile Foundation. They help children in need of oral care in the most vulnerable areas in the world. Every Humble purchase goes towards funding an oral care project.
The company is very successful in the European market where they are market leaders in the bamboo toothbrush industry. As the CEO of The Humble Company USA, Jimmie is responsible for the overall success of the company in the U.S. He also manages both the brand and the people involved with The Humble Company USA. In less than three months they have already succeeded in selling it B2B and to smaller retailers. Quite impressive!
The advantages of the bamboo toothbrush are many. They work just as well as a plastic toothbrush, lasts just as long and costs almost the same. However, they are better for the environment than their plastic counterparts, and by purchasing one you help the less fortunate. “Why would anyone ever buy a plastic toothbrush again?”, wonders Jimmie.
Jimmie’s future looks very bright, and SACC is excited to follow his journey!
Jimmie’s 3 best advices for starting your own business:
1) Motivation: Why do you want to do it? Do you have a drive and feel a passion for your business? Having your own company is hard work and will require working outside office hours. In the long run, being truly passionate about what you do is more important than the urge to make money.
2) Listen to the advice of more experienced people: Are you a younger person? If so, take advantage of people with previous experience of running their own business. It is vital to be curious and learn constantly, and taking advantage of the more experienced is one way of achieving this.
3) It is a lifestyle: Your passion created this lifestyle. You might work from home or around the world, but you will work a lot and when you’re not working your competitors are. To be successful, you can’t treat your passion as your job – It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a goal or even the path to the goal. It’s your life. Be responsible for your own life and success.
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