Akervall Technologies, Inc.

Akervall Technologies, Inc., founded by Sassa Akervall and Dr. Jan Akervall, has not only solidified its standing in the mouthguard industry but also has redefined industry standards with its flagship products—SISU Mouthguards and SOVA Night Guards. Originating from Sweden, the Akervalls made Michigan their home in 2004, where Dr. Akervall’s expertise in Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak became a cornerstone of their journey. 

The inception of their success story lies in Dr. Akervall’s revolutionary mouthguard prototype, initially designed for transoral surgeries. Departing from traditional, bulky mouthguards, he crafted a medical-grade thermopolymer version that provided enhanced protection during dental procedures. However, the innovation didn’t stop there. The Akervalls discovered an unexpected application for the prototype when their daughter, engaged in field hockey, found conventional sports mouthguards uncomfortable. An impromptu pizza party for their daughter’s team and a booth at a roller derby event became the initial testing grounds, garnering overwhelming positive feedback. The prototype proved to be a game-changer, leading to the accidental entrepreneurial venture of Akervall Technologies. 

“My background is in media and advertising,” shared Akervall Technologies Chief Executive Officer Sassa Akervall. “As a first-time entrepreneur, it’s not always clear who to call or where to go for help. Interim Regional Director Ron Stevens was terrific at showing me the value of not only the Michigan SBDC services but also other agencies that support entrepreneurs.”

In 2007, Akervall Technologies, Inc. (ATI), officially launched. Dr. Akervall collaborated with co-founder Johannes Schwank, Ph.D., to refine their first commercial product—SISU Mouthguard—specifically tailored for the sports industry. The product hit the market in 2009, with late-night kitchen table endeavors, and by 2014 its remarkable sales growth trajectory resulted in a move to a 16,000 square foot building in Saline.

Navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship, Sassa sought support from various organizations, including the Greater Washtenaw Region of the Michigan SBDC. The SBDC network played a pivotal role in guiding Akervall Technologies through SEO strategies, product development, market entry, pricing, growth development and exporting. Over the years, the ATI team expanded to over 20 employees, introducing new product lines such as SOVA Nighttime Grind Protection and IntuGuard—the Intubation Mouthguard for surgical professionals.

Their success story has not gone unnoticed. ATI has received numerous accolades, including being honored as the 2019 Best Small Business for the Michigan SBDC Network, 2017 Regional Winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, three consecutive years on the Inc. 5000 List, and being named Patient Products Category Winner by the Dental Advisor. Their growth has been fueled by the unmatched quality and functionality of their mouthguards, being mindful of controlling expenses, having a great team at ATI, the support of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, a microloan from Ann Arbor Spark, participation in Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Economic Gardening program, and term loans from Invest Michigan. Their mouthguards, manufactured in the United States, have not only revolutionized the industry but have set new standards for innovation. Fueled by quality, functionality, a dedicated team and strategic support, Akervall Technologies aims to become the global golden standard for mouthguards. To explore ATI’s innovative products, visit their website.


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