‘Compression’ can sound technical. Why would a regular hiker or for-fun footballer need such high-tech sports gear?
For a lot of reasons, believes Jaakko Hintikka, CFO at ZeroPoint Compression. He experienced the benefits of compression socks after a couple of days at a sports fair, where he, instead of doing hat-tricks or climbing walls, was just standing still presenting his import business to visitors.
“After the first two days, my legs were knackered and swollen because I had been on my feet for so long,” he recalls. “On the third day, I wore compression socks, and I could really feel the difference that evening. My feet were much less sore.”
The socks, given to him by their creator Petteri Ahonen from Jyväskylä, Finland, convinced Hintikka that compression isn’t a buzzword but a genuinely good idea for anyone willing to help their body recover from physical exercise. Soon after the fair in 2013, he and his business partner Jaakko Fredrikson decided to join forces with Ahonen, who had founded ZeroPoint Compression alone four years earlier.
Athlete’s best friend
Since then, socks have been accompanied by sleeves, shirts, shorts, tights and jackets. The main target group for ZeroPoint are athletes, but the socks have also been discovered by people who sit and stand still for long periods of time, such as pilots, office workers and recovering patients.
“We know that a lot of Finnair pilots choose to wear ZeroPoint socks when flying,” Hintikka reveals.
The secret ingredient of compression is blood. As compression wear adds pressure on the body and the walls of the veins, it helps keep circulation going and oxygen flowing to the heart, preventing legs and feet from getting swollen and tired.
“When it comes to athletes, compression helps before, during and after performance,” Hintikka explains. “Like I noticed after the fair, it significantly reduces recovery time.”
One proof of this is the fact that the vast majority of sportsmen and women who’ve tested ZeroPoint products want more. The company is the official compression brand partner of the Finnish Olympic team, and it has various collaborations with sports professionals, including snowboarder Eero Ettala. The athletes really do wear the products – not just smile and wave at the camera for a hefty bank transfer.
“We always approach them by offering a chance to test our clothes, and pretty much all of them have started using them regularly,” Hintikka tells.
Cleaning the seas
On top of boosting the wellbeing of its wearers, ZeroPoint has another ambitious goal. Hintikka names sustainability as one of the key drivers of the company’s innovative process. Most of the products are made of a material known as Econyl yarn, which is nylon regenerated from textile scraps, production discards and industrial plastic, like abandoned fishing nets.
“We use recycled materials as much as possible,” Hintikka tells. “We only use other materials to reinforce the features that are needed for optimal compression, but our goal is to eventually be 100 per cent recycled.”
Most ZeroPoint products are manufactured in Portugal, using fabric made in Italy. They end up all over the globe, the biggest markets being in the Nordics, the UK, the Benelux countries, Switzerland, Russia and recently Japan.
The company is run from both Finland and Sweden, where it has a subsidiary. The plan is to conquer foreign markets one by one, focusing on one region at a time.
“Our biggest strength lies in the people who try our products and understand how great they are,” Hintikka notes. “That’s also the most encouraging feedback we can imagine.”
Be it from the cockpit, a hospital bed, an office desk – or the Olympics.