Y/ELM+, a Stockholm-based startup focused on developing next-generation horse rider safety and protection solutions, has brought together some of the most well-known investors and VCs in Sweden for its first investment round before the brand’s planned launch in Q4 ‘22. It secured a combined 5,000,000 SEK led by VC firm Wellstreet, as well as the seasoned serial entrepreneur Alexander Hars and riding star Ebba Danielsson bringing on board their experience in e-commerce and the horse riding industry respectively. Danielsson also joins Y/ELM+ as one of the ambassadors for the next generation of highly promising riders. Among other individual accomplishments, she was selected for the Swedish junior national team, where she finished off as a Swedish champion.
Founded to usher a new era of progressive design and safety innovation into the horseback riding industry, Y/ELM+ has also secured a launch campaign partnership, starting in November with leading Swedish luxury department store Nordiska Kompaniet (NK).
The Future of Riding Safety
CEO and founder of Y/ELM+, Alexandra Berhe brings the experience, having spent countless hours in the company of horses, in the stable, and outdoors. Yet, one thing she learned early on was that no riding brand offered the protection she needed. Alexandra decided to remedy the market's lack of progressive protection technology and tonality after equipping herself with products from non-riding activity sports brands one time too many.
I want to give riders safe, smart and comfortable gear with superior shock-absorbing abilities for all riding situations. My one wish as a rider has always been to find failsafe protection that looks good and never gets in the way of the riding experience. Y/ELM aims to deliver products that exceed the high safety standards and innovation seen in other high-risk sports like downhill skiing, climbing, and cycling. But not only that. Equally important is that riders actually want to wear the product. That's why we put so much effort and energy into making our products unobtrusive, comfortable, and stylish.
Alexandra has long felt that the riding sport deserves much better protection products. As a sport, horseback riding accidents are more dangerous than skiing and motorcycling, and they are the leading cause of sports-related traumatic brain injuries. In fact, 81% of horse riders get injured at some point in their riding career. The death numbers are simply unacceptably high, with over 70% being caused by head and neck injuries - numbers that would drop around 50% if riders wore an appropriate riding helmet. More than market opportunity, this is a health issue that needs attention. On top of that, the fashion component serves the larger consumer base since 90% of riders are girls, and most injured are between 10 to 20 years. This group is looking more to Nike apparel than Barbour for style inspiration.
Y/ELM+ leveraged a materials and technology-focused approach in designing its horseback riding helmet and safety solutions. It differentiates itself from the industry competition by offering modern, ultra-customizable designs aimed at unobtrusive and high-performance riding product features – similar to rider protection solutions in other high-risk sports, but not yet implemented in horse riding.
Tech-Enabled, Sleek, Modular Designs
Erik Lidén is the co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Y/ELM+ and brings to the table strong expertise in developing safety apparel and accessories for snow sports and cycling. Apart from having led his own startup, he worked at the Swedish company POC Sports since its inception, which provided Lidén ample experience in building helmets, eyewear, body armor. He defined the brand’s product goals in a statement:
The lack of innovation in the riding category is striking, and the need to raise the bar for safety and comfort for the new generation of riders is urgent. We aim to do that. To support our pursuit of state-of-the-art protection for riders, we have a stellar internal team and a network of people rooted in the Swedish tech, safety, and outdoor ecosystem.
In a move similar to other well-funded Swedish tech startups, the brand partnered with established technology solution providers to round out its product offering. For example, the company’s next-gen helmet for horseback riding, the Hybrid 1.0, leverages the latest advancements in protection and safety technology via partnerships with industry-leading companies such as Tocsen, Silva, and MIPS. And that’s just the first product - the team is already working on riding protection gear for other body areas.
Partner and fund manager at Wellstreet, Jessica Rameau says that
Y/ELM+ is really at the intersection of technology, safety and design, delivering next-generation products via a D2C first approach. They have assembled a state-of-the-art product platform and have created a really strong brand that speaks to up-and-coming riders who are challenging the status quo. We are really excited to be supporting such an experienced team at the forefront of the horse-riding industry.
Y/ELM+ is a horseback riding safety and protection brand based in Stockholm, Sweden. Founded in 2021, Y/ELM+ focuses on creating leading-edge rider safety solutions through technology and materials-based innovation — enabling enhanced rider performance via its signature modular, modern designs.
Learn more about the Y/ELM+ brand, team, and upcoming products on its official website.