Outby offers a digitized and fully integrated booking and payment system for unique customer experiences at winter destinations. Trail passes, cabin booking, alpine skiing, and hiking trails – readily available at your fingertips, with fully automated distribution of the organizers’ earnings. Outby makes their mark with a keen sense of engineering and a knack for true customer benefits.
There are many good examples of how the pandemic’s restraints on society and social contexts have driven technological innovation. Outby is one of them. It all started in the home office environment, in a discussion between the founders Tobias Konradsson and Lars Nelson about payment and control of track cards. The duo became a trio when Björn Carlson joined and together they founded Outby. Björn studied Industrial Economics in Linköping, his hometown. Studies took him to both England and Germany, but he always returned to Linköping and eventually to a job at Saab. He is an outdoorsman since far back and loves to go skiing. Björn, Tobias and Lars yearned for greater simplicity when planning their winter holidays, from booking accommodation and trail cards to finding activities on site. Society’s increased scope of digitization gave further momentum to their business idea.
- Suddenly the stars aligned, and I chose to realize my dream of becoming an entrepreneur, Björn begins the story. Together with my business partners; Lars, with his good contacts in the skiing industry, and Tobias, an innovative and knowledgeable engineer from Saab, we had all the right conditions for the next step.
The experience from Saab in implementing new functions, providing good support, and identifying the customers’ real needs came in handy in the company’s initial stage. The introduction of the solution, however, took an unexpected turn.
- We released our first solution to high praise and quickly added several new customers. Maintaining a close dialogue with the customers meant that we could quickly track down several issues to solve and make their business life more convenient. We discovered that the customers had more products to package and sell, which their old business system could not handle in an agile way.
The work went full speed ahead with the aim of expanding and optimizing a solution that integrated not only cross-country passes, but also, for example, alpine skiing, accommodations, hiking and snowmobile trails. The integrated system solution has been tested for the first time in 2022, to a very good reception.
- Before the last winter season even started, we were able to offer a complete solution for a ski resort – and we had completed the project in record time. What came next? Well, we are also guests at these resorts, and want to be able to handle our own visit in its entirety, within the same booking procedure. A “one-stop-shop” is good business for the guest as well as the owner. The fastest and easiest way for our customers to offer this type of service is to form partnerships with other ventures. We also added the functionality to distribute the revenue and, in doing so, added the last big piece of the puzzle of a collaborative booking service. It is unique on the market today.
A core characteristic of the Outby employee is a strong progressive drive, regardless of which department or position you have in the company. This means that the path to a finished product or service places high demands on a deep level of customer knowledge and the ability to hear and understand the actual needs, often between the lines of what is said.
- We continuously collect suggestions and good ideas directly from our customers. Their feedback provides us with important information on what we need to solve. Then, we can formulate this as a solution that answers the needs of many of our clients. Succeeding to do so, we can continue to grow our company while keeping our customers happy. Our customer contact is defined by our collective strength, the solutions always driven by close collaboration between the spirit-driven organization, the commercial department, or the municipal leisure department.
2022 meant great growth and expansion for Outby. In addition to the software solution, three hardware solutions were also launched. Outby Gate 3.0 is an integrated gate for entry to, for instance, the ski lift or the bike park; the physical Outby card makes passage through the gate easy; and the direct purchase sign opens destinations for spontaneous visits.
- We now have 45 connected facilities, a number that will hopefully increase before the 2024 season. On the product side, we are already challenging the big manufacturers. The gate that we launched was developed in record time and is incredibly stable considering what a young product it is. There, we have greatly benefited from the level of engineering expertise within the company.
Scaling up is often a challenging process. In a short time, Outby has grown from a tight-knit group of three people to a total of seven employees. Previously, there was no information that did not reach the others, as soon as someone received a phone call, everyone was indirectly informed. Ensuring that the information goes out to everyone in the right way and at the right time is one of the challenges in the company’s growth process.
- We are working towards becoming more proactive and to not expect things to get solved on their own. One important insight is that rapidly scaling a business require that the internal communication is clear and that everyone feels involved.
Pending the organizational expansion, they were advised to join Swedish Scaleups, which meant receiving a great support in setting up the necessary structures and processes.
- Swedish Scaleups has provided great support throughout our expansion, in everything from legal support and HR inquiries to sharing good experiences and tips from the program’s coaches and other affiliated companies. We are about one year long in the program, which started with the Investment Readiness/IRP process during May-August 2022. The growth program has a very structured way of working with investment acquisitions that builds up a sense of security among us who are new to this.
Swedish Scaleups can offer guidance on many levels through a company’s growth process, for example by developing and expanding the business model before a pivot or providing support in the dialogue with investors. But the program requires your commitment and time, and that the business can first stand on its own two feet.
- The technical university and the innovation climate, create a favorable environment in Linköping. The region boasts an extensive network and support system for new entrepreneurs and plenty of opportunities for innovative companies to find people with the right skills.
Outby goes into a strong year with a planned growth of 50%. They are glancing at the neighboring countries and a European expansion is on the five years roadmap.
- The expansion has given Outby a wider scope of expertise and through the support we have received from Linköping’s innovation system, we have been able to maintain and refine our common vision and drive forward.
The three best experiences with Swedish Scaleups:
- The exchange between the affiliated companies and in particular the informal conversations that create a common context.
- The support from the program’s coaches, who have both a large network to connect to and extensive experience from their own entrepreneurship.
- The innovation environment in Linköping, which makes the city an outstanding place to operate in and from.
This is Outby:
Product description: Booking and payment system for outdoor activities.
Turnover: 1.5 million (2022)
Location: Linköping, Hybrid