Forcite Helmet Systems interview with Alfred Boyadgis, CEO.
What does Forcite do and what product/service does it sell?
– Forcite is building an information system made available to motorcyclists directly in their helmets. The helmet includes a set of LEDs inside with audio and a camera system. It helps the driver with navigation, alerting him/her to the presence of law enforcement in the area, speed limits, road hazards and more. The main objective is to keep drivers safe.
When did you start developing an interest in this sector and what motivated you to create a product or service for this sector?
– The story behind the birth of the company is that I was involved in a motorcycle accident a few years ago and I broke my knee badly. I wanted to create a product that would increase safety for motorcycle riders and reduce accidents. Using crowdsourced data, drivers will be able to know if there are potential dangers on their route, and avoid them as well as potential accidents and injuries, thanks to Forcite. Helmet technology is about the driver’s ability to predict everything that happens on the road in real-time.
How was the process of finding investors?
– The first investors who came into our company, especially Angel investors, wanted us not to build a motorcycle product but to build a snow sport product because they were all passionate about skiing and listening to them at first was a bad idea. Later, we decided that it would be a motorcycle product and we started our search for a new team of investors, together with the support of some companies like Yamaha Motors.
How was the experience of being funded by a venture capital company?
– It was difficult to present our product to big investors and actively involve with them until we started to launch our business as a software and artificial intelligence company instead of hardware. When we realized that we wanted to achieve more in the reality of artificial intelligence, we got traction from Venture Capital (VC) investors and in fact, this led us to change our business model. Our latest round of publications has been overall very successful and brilliant worldwide thanks to a VC we work with, Uniseed, a $300 million fund that works with all Austrian universities.
What kind of support do they offer you and your company?
– It really varies, for example, we have two VCs who have now invested in our project. We haven’t really received that much support from Angel investors, as they are generally calmer investors. As far as Uniseed is concerned, they have a place on our board and actually the biggest manager Angel Investment, who was CEO of Deutsche Bank in Sydney, is our chairman. All of our company’s financial operations are managed very diligently, which is good for a small company that is growing and hopefully supporting us with the capital we need.
What advice would you give to someone who has a startup or a small company that is trying to grow their business financially?
– I think the bottom line is that if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re not passionate about your work and you’re not working full time on it in the first place, investors will never have the same passion as you or put their money into a business. If investors can see that you are doing something just because you want to make money, it is more than likely that they will not be willing to invest in your company. In addition, you need to have the traction and acceptance of your product/service from the client, regardless of the level of investment. Forcite is heavily data-driven and everything that is or is not included in our product is due to the fact that it is our customers who want it this way.
Il Team BizPlace