Forcite Helmet Systems interview with Alfred Boyadgis, CEO.
- What does Forcite do and what product/service do you sell?
- Forcite is building a situational intelligence system for motorcycle riders in a helmet. The helmet includes an LED array inside with audio and a camera system. It helps the driver with navigation, tells them if there are police in the area, speed limits, hazards on the road, and more. The main goal is to keep drivers safe.
- When did you start developing an interest for this industry and what motivated you to make a product or service for this industry?
- The story behind the company is that I was involved in a motorcycle crash a few years ago and fractured my knee very badly. I wanted to create this system that increases safety for motorcycle drivers and reduce the reaction time. Using crowdsourced data, drivers would be able to know if there are any potential hazard ahead on their route, and avoid them as well as potential crashes and injury. The helmet technology is about the driver knowing everything that is happening on the road in real time.
- What was the search process for investors like?
- The first investors that came onto our company, Angel investors in particular, wanted us to not build a motorcycle product but build a snow sports product because they were all avid skiers and listening to them at first was a bad idea on our part. We decided later on down the road that it was going to be a motorcycle product, and we started our search for a new team of investors, along with support from some companies such as Yamaha Motors.
- How was the experience of being financed by a Venture Capital?
- It was difficult to pitch our product to big investors and have them actively engage until we started pitching our business as a software and AI company instead of hardware. When we realized that we wanted to get more into the AI scene is when we got they got traction from Venture Capital (VC) Investors and it actually caused us to change our business model. Our last round of releases was overall really successful and brilliant all around because of a VC we partner with, Uniseed that is a $300 million fund that partners with all the Austrailian Universities.
- What kind of support do they offer to you and your business?
- It really varies, for example we have two VC’s that are invested in us now. We haven’t really received that much support from Angel investors, as they are typically quiet investors. In regards to Uniseed, they have a seat on our board and actually the largest Angel Investment manager, who used to be managing director of Deutsche Bank in Sydney, is our chairman. All of the finance operations in our company are handled very diligently which is good for a company our size that is growing in the next stage and are very willing to support us with any of the capital that we need.
- What advice would you give to someone who has a startup or a small company that is looking to grow their business financially?
- I think the core thing is that if you don’t love what you are doing, aren’t passionate about your job, and aren’t working on it full time, Investors won’t have that same passion to put their money into a business when they can tell that you’re not doing it for the right reasons. If investors can see that you are doing something just because you want to make money, it’s more than likely that investors won’t be willing to invest in your company. Also you have to have customer traction and validation with the product, no matter how good the investment pitch is. Forcite is very data driven, and everything is or is not included in our product because our customers want it that way.