Husqvarna: The 328-Year-Old StartUp

By Aarthi Rayapura September 12, 2017

You’ve heard of SaaS, PaaS, and perhaps even IaaS. But, what about TaaS i.e. Toolshed-as-a-Service?

Meet Husqvarna, the over 300 years old, multi-billion dollar outdoor power tools manufacturer that just launched a first-of-its-kind TaaS pilot program to promote the Husqvarna Battery Box. The program allows homeowners in Stockholm to access pay-per-use power tools for the garden, eliminating the need to maintain and store gardening tools that are not frequently used. It is also a great opportunity for people to try out tools before committing to a purchase.

“People are already sharing homes and cars. To share products that are only used occasionally, like a hedge-trimmer, makes a lot of sense for some users,” says Pavel Hajman, President of Husqvarna.

The Husqvarna Battery Box is located at a shopping center in a suburb 15 minutes west of downtown Stockholm. An 8x3m offline and unattended storage unit, the box can hold 30 cabinets, each one containing professional battery-operated garden tools such as hedge trimmers, chainsaws, trimmers, or blowers. The tools are serviced daily to ensure that they are always in good condition and fully charged before customers take them home.

Consumers use a mobile app to book, pay, and open the locker to retrieve their tools. It also includes “how-to” films to explain how the product works. Communication between the Husqvarna Battery Box and the app is via Bluetooth. To verify identity, the customer uses the Swedish ID app BankID. Payments are charged to the registered credit card at the end of the month.

The project is the result of cooperation with Telenor Connexion, Flex, Zuora, and HiQ. Flex builds the connected
box and reports its status on events handled through a cloud solution with Telenor Connexion. Zuora supplies the subscription payment solution, and HiQ builds the app and the system needed to bring everything together.

Husqvarna is using the pilot to test the application of the solution, understand the market, and assess the subscription/sharing model as a potential revenue stream. “This is a way for us to test drive innovations. If all goes well, we see an opportunity to develop this in other areas”, says Petra Sundström, Director of Innovation Management at Husqvarna.

The box is also a part of Husqvarna’s strong commitment to contribute to the UN development goals by driving the shift from petrol powered products to silent battery products with no direct emissions in urban areas. “The Husqvarna Battery Box is proof of our commitment to explore new solutions that merge innovation and sustainability, benefitting the homeowner, the community, and our distribution network,” says Hajman.

The company took the project from paper to execution in a record time of six months. How has the pilot fared so far? “It’s already a success from a brand and awareness point of view, internally, as well as externally. From a customer perspective, we need more time to understand their preferences and experiences. We have contracted a number of pilot users to give us more in-depth feedback on the service. And it will be exciting to learn about their user experiences,” says Margaretha Finnstedt, Co-creator of  Husqvarna Battery Box and Global Director of Public Relations and Communication at Husqvarna.

This isn’t Husqvarna’s first foray into the digital era. A few years ago, it launched the My Automower app, followed by Automower Connect, for its robotic mower, which allows owners to mow their lawn without even being home. Customers can set timers instructing the automower when to start and stop mowing, and can also monitor progress. The device also has a built-in GPS, which allows users to track its location — so there’s no need to worry about it going rogue and cutting your neighbor’s grass by accident!

Now, why would a company that’s so successful and established enough to have its own museum (for real!) want to switch to services? “Husqvarna has entrepreneurship in its DNA, so exploring trends that can meet new customer needs is in our genes,” says Finnstedt.

In its three centuries old history, Husqvarna has manufactured everything from rifles to sewing machines to motorbikes. Today, it’s a world-leading manufacturer of products for forestry, lawn and garden maintenance, and cutting equipment and diamond tools for the construction and stone industries. Its brands include Husqvarna, Gardena, McCulloch, Poulan Pro, Weed Eater, Flymo, Zenoah, and Diamant Boart sold in more than 100 countries.

Hajman sums it up well when he says, “We have been a company of great change constantly since it was formed in 1689. Innovation and entrepreneurship have always been part of our business. We’ve been called “the world’s oldest startup.”

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