It's the Porsche of motorcycle helmets. Australian startup Forcite is transforming motorcycle safety with its revolutionary AI-powered smart helmet. The company is expanding into lucrative overseas markets and executing a full scale retail launch after selling out in a pre-order stage. Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder Alfred Boyadgis shares insights into Forcite's success and the road ahead.
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1. What inspired you to develop your idea?
In 2013, I experienced a motorcycle accident, hitting the ground hard and injuring my knee. Realising I could have come off worse, after teaming up with Co-Founder Jay Chow, we wanted to make technology that could predict road events ahead of time and protect the rider. Hence the name of the company, Forcite.
2. How have your priorities changed from when you first started?
In the beginning, Forcite was more of a wearable tech company and did not have our own products, through years of experimentation and learning, we took the plunge and launched our own product in 2018 and never looked back.
3. Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?
You're a startup, be adventurous, take risks it’s what it’s about. Even if something isn’t finished, get to revenue as fast as you can and create as much noise as you can. The community of customers you build is vital.
4. What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
Starting out you have no money, you just quit your job, this whole pitching thing is totally new. And honestly, it’s super scary, you just need to Focus on getting from 0-1 and the answer is out there somewhere, so put together what you have the best you can and then go out and let people rip you apart on feedback. Feel terrible. Get up. Do it again.
Over time this becomes second nature and every time it gets clearer and clearer. More often than not the door is never really closed it’s why investors say “pass for now”. Many of those doors re-opened and we eventually got some funding to push forward.
Eventually, for a few that have the grit and the passion, it becomes the best decision you will ever make in your life and you will show up every day with a smile on your face and want to keep working on what you’re doing forever.
5. What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused?
The art of “just enough” you don't want your product to have too few features and you don't want it to have too many. I often spent time in the early days focusing on jamming things with more when the obvious answer was less.
The secret formulae are no secret really but to spell it out:
Often you only need to focus on the one big thing you’re going to do and prove it with revenue. All the other stuff is noise.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is trying to become an entrepreneur?
Don't take yourself so seriously. It’s hard so have fun with it, learn to enjoy the little wins and pitching isn’t scary the people watching you want you to make innovation happen. So be confident, make some wild claims, say you don't know everything but NEVER lie.
There is always another deal and you will forget all about it in a few weeks of just moving forward in a stronger way.
"No matter who they are in the business, we all win together and we all lose together."
7. How did you establish your culture?
I’m lucky to have hired a team of people who are super passionate about what they do and are very positive. We hired people who were different to others that worked here but had the same enthusiasm for the industry as we did.
We don't hide in an ivory tower here we are all in the same room and are honest to everyone no matter who they are in the business, we all win together and we all lose together. BBQ’s on Fridays, Motorcycle rides and talking with prolific designers and experts in their given fields is not a shabby place to work,
Forcite isn’t your 9-5 gig, We all just work in our own ways and hours, none of us gets overtime but on average we all work around the clock so we all can celebrate those big wins, it’s super high paced and different to a large corporation.
"There is no dollar amount for a customer loving your product and raving about it."
8. How do you define success?
Giving something to the planet that would not be there if it wasn’t for you and people who bought it or bought into it saying their life is much better for it.
There is no dollar amount for a customer loving your product and raving about it.
9. What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
Watching the company and the following grow rapidly off something that most people said simply was not possible to do. As a young company, we have met people on our journey that as a uni student I never would have imagined meeting in my lifetime.
10. What are you working on now?
How our technology moves out of helmets and solves other problems for motorcycle riders, drivers and other road users.
"Forcite will make the infrastructure to keep riders safe in the future and we could be making our own vehicles one day."
11. How do you see your company evolving over the next 10 years?
I see Forcite as a Technology company first and foremost, Forcite will make the infrastructure to keep riders safe in the future and we could be making our own vehicles one day.
In our final Art of the Startup series for 2021 we connect with one of our all time favourite investee companies, Perkii Probiotics and it's CEO Anthony Davie.