In this edition of SUP Company Spotlight, we caught up with Yster SUP founder, Per Vallbo. Yster SUP is a Swedish company that is focused on designing both inflatable and hard boards for Nordic flat water paddling.
How were you initially introduced to the sport of stand up paddleboarding?
I grew up on a peninsula in the quiet archipelago of Southern Sweden. As a kid, there wasn’t much to do other than water sports. I did a lot of windsurfing in the eighties and later kayaking. When I first tried a paddle board it was love at first sight, as it combined surfing and paddling!
What ignited the spark in you to get involved in the industry?
After a while on an all-round board, I realised that the board did not perform well in our conditions. With my master’s degree in engineering design with polymers, I saw an opportunity to develop paddleboards suited for Northern waters, i.e. slim boards suited for flat waters yet capable of cutting through chop and waves and handling side winds with exceptional directional stability. This sparked the birth of the Yster SUP brand. Yster means “playful” in Swedish.
How important have good employees been to your success?
Good people is key to any company’s success. I am deeply grateful to all the committed people who have played a part in building the Yster SUP brand.
If you had a chance to start your company over again, what would you do differently?
Sure, it took some time to perfect the design and there were some initial glitches in production but overall, I would probably have followed the same path.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
As a part of the initial product development process we tried to fail fast to reveal what did work and what did not. We tried and tested shapes and designs on a number of prototypes and we even postponed the market launch to further refine the shapes. A lesson learnt is to do your homework before launching something prematurely.
How many hours a day do you work on average, and what does your typical day look like?
No day is the other alike! I take the chance to paddle with customers as often as I can because they provide valuable insights and ideas for future development.
What motivates you, and who has been your greatest inspiration?
I find people who challenge norms inspiring – committed people who dare to do things differently.
How do you define success?
To me success equals happiness. When I see the happiness in people testing a Yster SUP board for the first time and see them experience the responsiveness, speed, and directional stability –that is success to me!
What do you enjoy most about being involved in the SUP industry?
I love the friendliness of the community but also the genuine dedication to environmental and sustainability issues. These topics are very much in line with our thoughts and we would love to get in contact with people who share our values and would like to represent Yster SUP in their countries.
Where do you see the paddleboarding industry in 10 years? 20 years?
Water sports come and go. However, I believe paddleboarding is here to stay because of its versatility. Thanks to inflatable paddleboards the industry has made paddleboarding available to new market segments like urban paddling. Also, mature industries tend to become more specialised. That is why Yster SUP will keep developing premium SUP-boards optimised for northern conditions.