We're kicking off a new series to introduce our team starting with our CEO! After all, you should know the people behind Waboba working hard to keep life fun for you.
Axel von Heland
Office Location: Stockholm
What do you do at Waboba and when did you start?
I do a little bit of everything in my role as CEO, but my main focus outside of that is in product development. I have been with the company since 2008 and took over as CEO in 2018.
What do you love about working in product development?
I love the problem-solving aspect of it. Product development comes down to having an idea and then identifying and solving a large number of problems. Every solution along the way provides so much energy!
Working in product development, there are always some trial and errors before products go to production. What is that like?
We pretty much base our entire development on trial and error. We want all of our products to have a wow-factor to them and in order to do that we spend a lot of time refining them. One example of that is the Wingman! We wanted to create a soft silicone disc that was easy to throw and flies really straight. We started by testing a lot of different hard plastic disc designs on the market until we found a good starting point and based on that we created new designs with minor changes, 3D printed and tested all of them. Then based on the best performer we created new designs and so on. We designed printed more than 150 unique discs during the process of finding our Wingman.
What's your favorite product that you've seen through concept to production?
That’s difficult because it tends to be the one you are working on right now. But if I look back I really liked working with the VOLI racket. That product was one of the first complex products we took on and it posed so many interesting challenges. It’s quite difficult to tell when looking at it, but the hand paddle was very difficult to get just right. We worked through A LOT of samples to get to that one.
Send us a picture of your desk! What are some must-haves for your work station?
Multiple screens with different tree houses, water to stay hydrated, & to-do lists.
What’s your favorite song to listen to when you work?
First steps by Lena Raine.
What did you do before you landed at Waboba?
Partied at San Diego State University.
What’s one fun thing that’s different about working at Waboba than other places you’ve worked?
I haven’t worked anywhere else so I wouldn’t know.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What’s your secret talent no one knows about?
I wouldn’t really call it a talent because I suck at it, but I enjoy playing chess.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation for sure. To be able to be at any place in an instant would be so convenient.
How old are your kids and what’s their favorite Waboba product?
5 & 3. I’ve brought the 5 year old to the office and she just couldn’t believe all the fun products we have everywhere. But I think if they both were to pick a favorite it would be the Moon Ball.
Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.
I hate pickled pearl onions. Hate them with a passion.
At Waboba, we always aim to #keeplifefun. How do you stay a big kid at heart?
I spend as much time as I possibly can with my kids. Just being part of all the different fantasies that go on in their worlds all the time really strengthens your connection with your “inner child”.
How would you describe the culture at Waboba?
Trust & passion. I think those two words really set us apart from a lot of other companies in our industry. We’re passionate about what we do, and we trust the people to do what they do best. Of course, having fun comes with the job.
If you could tell your 12-year-old self something, what would it be?
Don’t fight so hard to grow up.
What’s your favorite way to play and stay active?
I just came back from three full days of BattleBird sessions at the Nuremberg toy fair. Love that game. Can't wait to launch it!
What’s a quote or song lyric you live by?
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
When did you grow up and what was the best part about that time period?
In the early 90s. This is not unique for us, but I think not being easily accessible at all times was really nice. Like when you met up with your friends you had to set a specific time and place, and then you wouldn’t be able to reach them until you saw them. There was a different type of trust required when you couldn’t constantly communicate about being late or whatever.
What was the first concert you ever attended?
Oh wow… being from Sweden I would say some Swedish band popular back then. But I think the first one with a more international audience would be Britney Spears. Yeah...
Where on earth are you hoping to travel next?
Someplace warm, it’s freezing here in Stockholm now.
Would you rather walk on water or walk on the moon?
I’m walking on water most winters so I’d prefer to walk on the moon.
What would be your last dying meal?
Something easily digested.
What is one thing you cannot live without?
The very honest answer is my kids.
Where is your favorite place you've traveled to so far?
Hong Kong. I really love that city.
What’s something on your bucket list you hope to check off?
Having sushi in Kyoto.