In 2001, with partially finished Master studies and his elite career in canoeing behind him, Magnus received a call about a summer job. A summer job that would turn out to be the starting point for Mabema.
Canoeing, drive, and determination.
When I asked Magnus about the peak moments of his canoeing career, he humbly claimed that he feels he had few to speak of. But to succeed in canoeing takes strength and will with grueling training and the lack of shortcuts. Despite his self-assessment, he had earned several National Cup medals, a Nordic Cup gold, an unofficial team World Cup gold, and he had the opportunity to participate in several world cups. A quick Google search revealed that Magnus was even mentioned in the Växjö canoe club’s history book six times – which I think is an achievement in itself.
However, Magnus’ canoeing career ended when he missed out on the Olympic qualification in 2000. Many people told him it was too early to quit at the age of 26, claiming he was just about to hit his stride. And Magnus admits, it may have been a bit too early.
But despite ending his canoeing career, the drive and determination have stayed, from elite sports to entrepreneurship. I quote Magnus:
”Coming in second in sports is really bad and in sales it’s completely worthless.” . So yes, the competitive spirit is still there.
The starting point for Mabema.
With his canoeing career behind him, Magnus made the decision to complete his Master degree in Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering in 2001. But it was during the spring of that same year, that a call came in offering him a summer job at Forsmark nuclear power plant, where he would repair and renovate radiation-resistant underwater cameras. Said and done. The following summer, Forsmark nuclear power plant invited him back. That is when Mabema was born.
”The first year I worked for another company, but in 2002 it was not possible to solve it in any other way than starting my own business.”
Starting off as a solo venture, Magnus was the only employee at Mabema. As the business began to grow, he sought the help of a friend, former study and canoeing buddy Pelle. The duo worked together, selling their services by the hour, repairing cameras all summer long. There was no business idea. Mabema was nothing more than a well-paid summer job alongside his Master studies at Linköping University.
His master thesis was finally written, presented and approved. The year was 2004 and Magnus found himself at a crossroads. He had the opportunity to either pursue a doctorate in Medical Image Analysis or focus solely on Mabema. And there was a market need, a business opportunity for Mabema.
Full time and all in.
When Autoliv and Carbex, two big names in the industry, became Mabema’s first real customers, it was a momentous occasion. It was clear that Mabema was making progress, not at lightning speed, but it was moving forward steadily. For Magnus, the slower growth had its own set of advantages. Without investor money, there was no room for failure and every step had to be thoroughly calculated and well executed. Every move had to be right, most of the time at least.
Despite the consequences of failing, it is the major breakthroughs that Magnus can look back on and be proud of. The projects that seemed pitch black in the beginning but were eventually still solved in the end. A satisfied customer is a successful project.
For Magnus, the challenge of solving a customer’s problem is what ignites his passion. The thrill of getting to know a customer, understanding their needs and practically starting to see the solution during the customer visit is what drives him. Above all, it is about being able to clearly communicate and explain to the customers exactly what they are buying, even when the solution may be advanced and technical. This ability to connect with customers and find solutions to their problems is a great source of inspiration to Magnus.
But when it comes to the most fun thing about running and working at Mabema, he is certain:
”You can come into work on a Monday and feel a little bit off, but when there is energy flowing in the office, it spreads. I try to spread energy to others too, it’s important.”