Martin Jahns

ISPO Brandnew Winner Category Hardware Summer: Fiftyten

Outdoor all-rounder Fiftyten: "As a young company, you have to earn your trust"

The Fiftyten transport system transforms pickups into both an outdoor base and a sleeping tent in no time at all. The German start-up was awarded for its innovation at ISPO Brandnew 2018. In an interview, founder Stefan Decker explains the rocky road to success and the next big goal: the US market.

Das deutsche Startup Fiftyten macht den Pickup zum Outdoor-Camp.
The Fiftyten transport system turns a pickup truck into an outdoor base camp

A feast for outdoor fans and road trippers! Fiftyten is a universal travel cabin with roof tent for all double cabin pickups. It consists of a basic platform with storage space instead of the original loading area, a box as living space and a large, comfortable roof tent for sleeping. The elegant, practical and sophisticated solution for campers and nature lovers was awarded the ISPO Brandnew Winner in the category Hardware Summer at the ISPO Munich 2018.

Three elements form the concept of the Fiftyten transport system: the tray as the basis, the box as the centre and the tent as the icing on the cake. Everything can be combined as desired, suitable for almost all pickups and in the customer's desired colour.

Since the multifunctional box can be put down in a few seconds, the vehicle is ready for the demands of the urban jungle within a very short time.

Time and money the scarcest resources

In this interview, Fiftyten co-founder Stefan Decker explains how his three-man company from Wiesbaden, which was only founded in 2017, implemented the ambitious project and gives startup founders valuable tips. How and when did you get the idea for your product?
Stefan Decker:
The development of the product is the result of many years of experience, which formed a solid basis, and then there was a period in which the various puzzle pieces merged into the basic structure of the new concept.

Which were the main difficulties in developing your outdoor solution? 
The main points were time and finances. The elaboration of the details took, as often, considerably more time than initially estimated. Because financial resources were tight, it was also not possible to hire external staff.

Stefan Decker ist als Mitbegründer von Fiftyten selbst Outdoor-Fan.
Stefan Decker is co-founder of Fiftyten and an outdoor fan himself

Fiftyten: "We spent too much money in the wrong place"

Looking back, what was the biggest mistake you made during development?
We spent too much money in the wrong place - driven by my personal ideas and not the real market benefit.

What are your three most important advices for other founders?
1) What are the real advantages of my idea for the customer? This point must always be questioned.

2) Stay clear, don't get bogged down - critically evaluate the change requests of potentially interested customers during the first inquiries. Does this bring me long-term advantages in addition to the fast turnover, or do I lose too much time in achieving the actual goal?

3) Handle the money carefully - does it really serve the purpose?

Next goal: Sales network in North America

How difficult is it for young companies to establish themselves in their market segment?
In my field, a lot of trust is necessary; as a young company, you first have to earn this and build up an appropriate reputation. That takes time and communication. 
Initially, a lot of this was done through personal contacts. Then we started a targeted search for possible partners.

What are the next steps in the development of Fiftyten?
We are now working on establishing a sales network in North America.

How did the award as a winner at ISPO Brandnew help as a young company? 
ISPO Brandnew has brought a lot of publicity. The award also helps a lot to be taken seriously as a newcomer. I can only recommend the participation.

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Martin Jahns