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John Lloyd of Koroyd: How You Can Achieve Success By Being ‘Hungry and Humble’

I am only interested in building long term success and do so through practicing being ‘Hungry and Humble’.Hungry — always look for new business, show partners we are proactive and demonstrate that we can elevate their businesses together. Humble — do it with integrity, dignity and take a long term view on all situations.It can […]

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I am only interested in building long term success and do so through practicing being ‘Hungry and Humble’.

Hungry — always look for new business, show partners we are proactive and demonstrate that we can elevate their businesses together. Humble — do it with integrity, dignity and take a long term view on all situations.

It can be very difficult to behave like this, especially in the face of your financial constraints and no doubt highly charged emotions which are a part of every project when starting out. However, as your business or career progresses you will see the tangible benefits.

I actually sit down with every new employee on their first morning and discuss at length the nuances of being ‘Hungry and Humble’, and how we can use it to build a better business.

I had the pleasure of interviewing John Lloyd the Founder and Managing Director of Koroyd.

In 2008 John was leading the product development team at one of the world’s most successful motorcycle helmet and apparel groups when a new technology landed across his desk. John recognized that this technology, born from an aerospace research project, had the potential to vastly improve the performance of helmets and body protection in a wide variety of applications. Twelve years on, John and his team have pioneered game-changing, advanced protective solutions in a number of markets, putting a focus on products which reduce the risk of injury and severe damage.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I am extremely fortunate to have grown up in a very entrepreneurial family, being exposed to international business from a young age. I was particularly close to my father who was a master businessman and skilled product developer. He had some very unique qualities which I was fortunate to benefit from, even if I did not realise it until later on in my career.

Despite being strong academically, I had very little interest in studying. The excitement and buzz of the business world all around me was overpowering and I focused all my energy and attention on carving out a career for myself under my father’s mentorship.

Amongst other interests, my family had a very strong motorcycle helmet business with global distribution channels. I worked in numerous roles within the family business, eventually finding my calling within the product development department. Whilst leading the product development team there we were approached by an aerospace engineer looking for a commercial outlet for an early stage technology which promised to revolutionise our helmets by offering a far greater level of protection through more efficient impact energy management.

Everything he claimed proved to be true and I quickly moved to co-develop it. Early iterations of our material offered a significant and even astonishing level of protection compared to existing and emerging materials.

Driven by a competitive spirit, I raced nationally in motorcycle and car racing from the age of 13 to 24 and was unfortunately exposed to the very grave consequences of accidents in those sports. Suddenly exposed to the benefits of this technology, I could see applications far beyond my family’s business and set out to find ways we could apply it. I had a strong desire to both deliver safer solutions for athletes (no doubt fuelled by my own personal losses during my years of racing) and to embark on progressing my own entrepreneurial journey.

The logical next step was to build a team and structure which would allow me to develop and fully commercialise our material, so I left our family business and started Koroyd.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

What a question! The obvious answer is that we work with some of the leading engineers in the world to integrate our material in wide scope of segments. Each technical challenge normally has an innovative solution and the ingenuity and elegance of the solutions reached never cease to amaze me.

If I zoom out a little then I have had many adventures on my travels, including driving 4×4 buggies across the Utah dessert with a brand partner, cycling with the media in Park City, Utah and snowboarding with the product team in the Alps.

I couldn’t talk about all the fun times without a nod to the tougher times. During our initial growth phase our 36m2 office was too small for the 4 desks we had in there. Employees would come to work and have to climb into their desk, staying put for the most part as leaving their desk was a major operation. We’ve had staff working literally day and night on projects (some 46 hours straight) just to get the job done. The office didn’t smell it’s best and people were napping under their desks, but we achieved our targets — vowing never to get in that position again! All of these situations required a highly motivated team who believed in our core purpose, and of course, a good dose of humour.

Following these early days were the crucial heart-in-mouth moments, which really defined our company’s growth as we acquired our first major partners.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

I believe established media and social media both generate content for consumption which set false expectations and behaviour and it is important to have some guiding principles which ultimately you can include in your corporate culture — even if it is not strictly ‘corporate’!

I am only interested in building long term success and do so through practicing being ‘Hungry and Humble’. Hungry — always look for new business, show partners we are proactive and demonstrate that we can elevate their businesses together. Humble — do it with integrity, dignity and take a long term view on all situations.

It can be very difficult to behave like this, especially in the face of your financial constraints and no doubt highly charged emotions which are a part of every project when starting out. However, as your business or career progresses you will see the tangible benefits.

I actually sit down with every new employee on their first morning and discuss at length the nuances of being ‘Hungry and Humble’, and how we can use it to build a better business.

Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Koroyd designs and engineers advanced impact protection for a diverse range of markets and products, from action sports equipment to industrial protection. As pioneers in protective solutions Koroyd’s core purpose is to reduce the risk of injury and severe damage.

Rather than innovating to compete, Koroyd is innovating to change the rules of the game and have been commended through the receipt of over 90 awards and distinctions and currently have 37 granted patents, 8 pending applications and 12 patent families across the world.

The journey to create a revolutionary energy absorber began in 2010. As a result of an aerospace safety research project, cylindrical seat tube structures were found to absorb the most amount of energy for a given distance. Koroyd was developed after being inspired by this research and has since become a disruptive alternative to traditional energy absorbers due to its performance advantages.

Koroyd’s welded tubes crumple instantly and consistently on impact, absorbing maximum force in a controlled manner, minimising energy transferred to the head or body. This unique behaviour helps to protect your skull, brain or body from direct and angled impacts which may reduce the risk of suffering a life-changing injury.

Koroyd is the trusted technology partner to some of the world’s most recognised brands spanning cycling, motorcycling, watersports, flight, industrial and snow sports, including Smith, Alpina, Endura, Head, Nitro and Klim to name a few, with their products used by elite athletes around the world.

Over the past decade Koroyd has been integrated into a wide variety of high-performance action sports equipment (helmets and body armour) as well as motorcycle helmets and protection for industrial workers.
Coming soon, we will see Koroyd integrated into many other products where energy absorption is key.

It is not always the big ideas which change the world. Even the smallest ideas can have huge consequences. We set out to change the world of head and body protection by optimising the materials used to absorb energy more efficiently. Whilst this sounds simple enough, we have challenged ourselves and our customers to rethink how helmets are constructed, rethink how their supply chains are structured and rethink how the end consumer approaches the safety and protection of themselves and those closest to them. In all of this change comes opportunity.

How do you think this will change the world?

We all know the world is evolving quicker than ever and in the online world everything is becoming slicker. I strongly believe that the focus is going to move towards optimising physical experiences and ensuring that nothing detracts from these valuable personal moments.

Koroyd has a host of applications with which we will be able to provide very high levels of protection in case of an accident. It is important to achieve this whilst simultaneously improving the day to day experience for our consumers. Typically better energy absorbers are either heavier or larger (or both) and non-breathable. Our material has the highest efficiency of energy absorption, whilst being lighter, smaller and more breathable. People will always put themselves at risk. It’s part of being alive. We are striving to offer people the opportunity to enjoy the sports and activities they love whilst reducing the risk of potential injury in the event of an accident.

I believe that the trend of greener transportation and micro-mobility is going to continue as more and more people choose to leave their cars at home. Better protection is an essential part of this movement and we have a responsibility to not only evolve with it, but also a capability to build products which encourage this movement by enhancing the user’s experience through lighter and more breathable products whilst affording them a higher level of protection.

All injuries have a consequence, including physical and psychological effects of the injured, increased burden on our health systems and financial implications on both a governmental and personal level. By reducing the risks of injuries, Koroyd can directly reduce these negative occurrences and significantly improve our society.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

The widespread adoption of helmet use amongst cyclist and skiers has led to a reduction in the amount of serious accidents which result in life affecting injuries. However anecdotally we are aware that helmets are confidence inspiring and tempt enthusiasts to practice their sports beyond their current limits, potentially exposing them to the risk of suffering a fall. Interestingly (and anecdotally again) this is particularly true for users who have historically participated in sports without helmets and make the change to wear helmets.

Koroyd equipped helmets are lighter, more breathable and in some cases smaller than those produced with traditional materials which theoretically should be a catalyst for increased adoption, however this should also be balanced with solid supporting educational materials to reduce any risk compensation behaviour.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

When I first came into contact with Koroyd we did a deep analysis of the material’s mechanical properties compared to traditional energy absorbers.

Traditional impact attenuating foams absorb energy through the collapse of internal pores, the compression of air and the bending, buckling or fracturing of cells when compressed. This random arrangement of the internal geometry of foams means that the bead walls get closer to each other during compression, increasing the force required to continue the compression. In other terms, the material eventually hardens and transmits more force to the head.

By comparison, Koroyd is an array of extruded and thermally welded tubes which crumple instantly and consistently on impact, absorbing more force with greater reliability compared to any other helmet technology. Koroyd utilises a combination of controlled buckling and efficient packing up to achieve high volumetric energy absorption.

I was still heading the product team at our family’s motorcycle helmet manufacturing business and had the responsibility of evaluating all new technologies coming into the business. Typically these technologies tended to be variations of traditional foams that either did not work or offered minor incremental improvements over existing materials. So I had exposure to the whole market and our material “Koroyd” was outstanding in comparison to anything I had tested or developed before.

Every time I dug deeper into the engineering and intrinsic properties of our material during compression, I unlocked another level of performance. It was during this research that I learnt that foams have characteristics which are detrimental to absorbing energy and Koroyd’s controlled buckling was a gateway to managing energy absorption more effectively. Foams were at the end of their development curve and fully optimised, yet first iterations of Koroyd were already significantly outperforming them.

I had to take on the challenge of commercialising the technology.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

Take the child seat market, which historically utilises common energy absorbing materials and is led by marketing driven innovations. Once you scratch the surface, there is a great deal of innovation in the seat design and construction but very little innovation in the raw materials themselves, however parents are acutely aware of their purchasing decisions and we see the relationship between consumers and the brands is very strong compared to other segments.

In the cycle and ski market, we see the consumer is far more informed when it comes to their protection requirements and they no longer accept that all helmets pass the same standards and are created equal.

In the child seat market It is imperative that we are able to harness the strong brand and consumer relationship to help educate parents on the performance differences of our product. We are in the middle of a paradigm shift in various helmet markets where safety is becoming the most important buying consideration. It is our job to educate and ensure parents are able to identify and choose the products which will most likely reduce the risk of suffering a life affecting injury in case of an accident.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. A great idea is nothing without great commercials — Naively when I went to market I believed brands would embrace our new, better performing technology and it would lead to widespread adoption. However we were targeting larger more established companies with clear strategies, who needed to be re-assured that changing their technology platform was risk free and commercially viable across all strands of their businesses.

In order to successfully onboard clients, we had to significantly develop our internal knowledge, capabilities and processes. Now we are an innovation powerhouse which our partner brands can leverage to elevate their product offering.

I still aim very high and get reigned in regularly by our executive team to ensure there are strong and persuasive commercial strategies supporting all our growth activities, which most importantly our target markets believe in.

2. All advice is not relevant — Once we started to get traction, I would hold sessions with people who had achieved significant success in their businesses or careers. As a younger entrepreneur I was eager to get more opinions on my approach and strategy.

Unfortunately most of the advice I received was simply not relevant for the business I was trying to build. Typically people were considering what little information they understood about Koroyd, trying to apply some of their previous experiences and ultimately the advice was not appropriate.

The key I found here was to find some of the few people who have been successful multiple times over in multiple segments, these are the people who will be able to understand the wider considerations of your business and give appropriate and invaluable advice.

3. You need “doers” on your team — Surround yourself with people who are onboard with the business you want to build, you can trust and can demonstrate their abilities to deliver it. Cut the talkers quickly, support your employees that “get things done” and watch your team to go forward with you as the business thrives.

4. In the beginning the odds are going to be stacked against you, which is alright! — There are very few overnight successes, and far fewer businesses which have an easy ride to profitability. Not everyone is going to have the same enthusiasm or vision for your ideas and there will be difficult times ahead. Prepare for it, quantify the difficult days against the successes and continue to persevere until you are more established and every challenge becomes a real opportunity.

5. Find the right fit — Sometimes it does not matter how good your product, solution or idea is. Not all companies will be able to exploit it. We wasted far too much time in the early days pursuing opportunities and developments with companies who were never going to be able to be strong commercial partners.

It is hard when you are heavily invested in a project to stand back and have a sanity check on your progress. Especially if the finish line appears to be in sight. However, you have to be brutally honest with yourself and identify when projects start to go off piste and there are cultural indicators that you are not completely aligned with potential partners.

Save your energy for the businesses and people who match your personal and business philosophies.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

You have to be tenacious. We didn’t gain our first partner or raise an invoice in the first 24 months of incorporation; to the contrary we had many established brands explain why Koroyd could not be successful.

Transformational change takes time for the market to adopt and in the meantime you have to be able to harness any negativity to fuel your desire for success.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

We are in the very fortunate position to not currently require funding, however we are always open to new ideas and the chance to collaborate. If any VC’s are interested in our business or would like to reach out to me personally then I would be very pleased to discuss if there are any strategic opportunities together.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Personal
Instagram: @_jay_lloyd_

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/koroyd/

Business

Instagram: @koroyd
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/koroyd/
Facebook: facebook.com/koroydcore/

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