Accelerated with Vitaly Golomb

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E7 | Season 2 - Jay Giraud (Damon Motorcycles)

by Vitaly M. Golomb
August 3rd 2021

On this episode, I had a conversation with Jay Giraud, Founder and CEO of Damon Motorcycles based in Vancouver. Damon is often compared to Tesla for its innovative reinvention of an entire category... More

Yeah. Mm Yeah. Welcome to accelerated. I'm your host battalion column on this second season of the podcast. We're hearing from some of the global leaders and everything electric and autonomous, moving as quickly into the future. Yeah, on this episode we speak with J jareau founder and Ceo of David motorcycles based in Vancouver. Damon is often compared to Tesla for its innovative reinvention of an entire category. J found early success as a professional snowboarder and then set out on a personal mission to rid the world of oil. He first did this address technologies that converted fleet trucks and military vehicles to electric and was a pioneer in vehicle to grid technology. He then founded Maggio, the most successful connected car platform in the world. He started Damon after a trip to Southeast Asia where he got reminded just how important to wield mobility is to a big part of our global population and yet how dangerous it can be. Here's our conversation with jay, jay. Thanks very much for your time and being on the show today. Where do we find you?

Thank you for Bc North Vancouver. Now as a kid, we'll dive right in as a kid. You follow your dream and found success as a professional athlete. Tell us a little bit about your early days. Yeah, not precisely. I, I actually dropped out of high school when I was 17 uh, quite conscientiously because the classroom of other grade elevens at that time, much like all the previous years were not the least bit interested in their education and frankly neither was I until grade 11 when actually started getting good grades, but the, I realized that, you know, at that time had already been working two jobs. I worked in the cafeteria at my high school and I had a job at a grocery store and pretty God, pretty much got sick and tired of the, the laissez faire attitude of the class in grade 11, when I started to think my grades might actually count for something and I should try harder. Um somehow that translated to the sensible decision to quit high school and my plan was to work full time because I thought I could do much better with my time in high school, excuse me in a full time job and actually make real money and then go to go to adult night schools because I figured adults to be a little more focused and That was certainly true and I completed grade 12 throughout high school.

But coming home with that news to my mom didn't quite make sense to her. So she threw me out Uh and from 17 to 20, therefore had to depend a lot more on full time work and found my way into managing to coffee shops by the age of 19. Uh, and I got so into the business of its selling franchises at 19 years old and and running wholesale coffee sales too. Um, you know, minute loops around the neighborhood and whatnot. We were roasters, coffee roasters. I had forgotten completely that I actually had a dream to become a professional snowboarder and when, when that moment dawned on me, I can actually remember the exact time place in the view that was in front of me of the local ski hill covered in snow. I realized I had to quit what I was doing that I had lots of time in the future for business. So I quit everything and I moved to whistler BC at the age of 20. So my plan was to do so at 18 anyway. So yeah, it took, it took a few years of getting lost in the weeds of very young business life before realizing I need to get back on track. Well if this whole business thing doesn't work out, I think there's, there's begins a great movie, you can make it maybe maybe a romcom.

So the great failures of j jerome Sure, that's a, it's a, it's a great story, but tell us a little bit about, I mean, it's fascinating. I think lots of us snowboarding skiing and what have you as kids, but very few get to the level that you got to. How did that happen? A little bit of good talking. I'll be honest and some serendipitous, you know, this was the day of the, of the, uh, what's it called? The non digital cameras, like we didn't have iphones in our pockets where we could take video one moment and watch are run on the, on the chair lift the next moment, which would have been exceptional for feedback and you know, uh iterating on your tricks and whatnot. So you had to find a photographer who wanted to burn up rolls of film like 5, 10 20 rolls of film a day to take pictures of you and then you have to chase that photographer down to get those pictures who he paid for the development of and he was just a kid too. And then you had to put those photos together in some impressive, you know album and they needed to put the album in the mail And send it to a the team manager at K two snowboards or at spyware or whoever And hope that they even opened your mail and then you have defined their email address and if they used email, this was like 1996 97 and try to get hold of these people somehow.

And the only other way to do it was to show up at ski and snowboard events and break through the the invitation only line and try to figure out who the team managers of the snowboard companies were to get in front of people to get sponsored. So it was a lot of hustling actually, it was way more hustling back then to try to find a sponsor who would help give you a snowboard or a discount on a snowboard if you were lucky. And so I don't really know exactly how it happened, but it was a combination of good snowboarding, you know, savvy self marketing, which I didn't do enough of and follow up, like you really have to run a business and follow up with people to get attention, others seem to just go to nightclubs with all the right people and get incredibly wasted and make friends to go snowboarding with the right guy the next day and that was it. I didn't have that kind of luck because I couldn't hold my liquor very well, so I think what you just described as, we can easily swap out for any new entrepreneur, young entrepreneur coming to Silicon Valley and trying to break in to the inner circle here very similar. Yeah, so over time, I mean, you developed, you had obviously a strong work ethic to become a pro athlete and get to the level you did despite everything you just described and no doubt you developed some principles about how you and you are lucky to do this very early on, so that you have taken this into your career, talk a little bit about kind of, your principles and what you've taken from that discipline to business, you know, I've actually never thought stopped to draw a line between my, my guess my business values, if you will and my snowboard values, but I guess there they're pretty similar drawing a blank, you know, it's also cliche, but if you don't, if you don't live your word and you don't live your commitments day in and day out and take the, take the lich king's, take the beatings and snowboarding, it was quite literal, literally take the beatings.

If you don't land on your feet, You know, we go through a snowboard park with 15 jumps and you would do that run 10 times in a day, So you're doing 150 jumps minimum a day every day and they're like 40 ft, 60 ft, 80 ft across, plus your takeoff and landing, you're talking about 100 ft of travel in the air. So the beatings were real. Uh, and if you wanted to quit, you just, it was really, really easy to quit. There's the bar down at the bottom of the mountain or an excuse like you got to work that night or, or your sore today because you were doing it for six days in a row this week and you know, that's just not what it takes, that's not what's gonna get you there. So, I think it was just a matter of maybe more than anything that I've learned it from life, whether it was dropping out of high school and still finishing or or landing those accounts selling coffee or landing those tricks on the days when you're in pain, it's just perseverance and grit, I'll put that above absolutely anything else. I used to say attitude is everything, I actually think attitude is second person, you could have a really shitty attitude and still make it if you really want to drag yourself through hell and keep going.

Yeah, absolutely, I mean there's this, there's bad advice called follow your passion and then there's good advice is do what you're good at and successful that, so now, so let's switch gears a little bit into, into the topic at hand here, you got into CVS before, it was cool, how did you get started? How did you shift from professional snowboarder selling franchises and getting into mobility and EVs? Yeah, well that's actually a really big gap there, there's an 11 year gap there between selling coffee shop franchises at 18 and starting rev technologies at 29 and in that gap there were action sports promotions companies that I founded, there was a women's snowboard clothing company that I co founded, There was working 20 or 30 different restaurants, landscaping jobs, uh you know, tons and tons of side hustles bars, working at a bar, all that kind of thing. And actually it was, it was a moment in 2000 to 2000 and three when I was nursing a back injury, I was working at a bar at the base of whistler and I watched the bombing of Baghdad take place, uh the Iraq war and I mean I just couldn't believe that all of the news channels could advertise, this was about freedom and not about the control of oil.

Um and so I spent the next five years really thinking long and hard about how does someone like me with no real physics or engineering education, how the greatest single impact on the dependence of oil in the world? Because if I thought I thought that if we could take the impetus out of oil, we could take the impetus out of war now in the back of mine and they will find something else to fight about lithium or something, right? But really big, let's get, take the impetus out of oil, let's solve that. And if that was what I gave the rest of my life too, I die happy Even if I was a failure, but it was part of the contribution over the next 50, 60 years of my life. And I thought, Okay, well that I could be happy about the rest of my life then of course that became about the scariest thing I ever thought of, and I spent five years hiding out from it until migraine headaches while selling motorcycles and cars was so intense, I knew I was avoiding something that I had to do in life. And so I quit that job On December 15, telling the general manager of the most crusty guy with big gold rings, who've been selling cars for 60, 70 years, that I was going to quit to start an electric car company, sitting at a car dealership no less And he, I was so fucking afraid because I had a kid coming and I couldn't pay rent on January one literally had nothing and I'm sure as hell didn't have christmas gifts for my family that year and I was quitting my job to start an electric car company and I didn't know anything about anything about electric cars really.

And I was telling him my reason for it and he had the most uh, stunned look on his face, But it was the opposite of what I thought, he said, you know what, I've been thinking about that for 20 years and I wish I'd done it and I truly thought I was crazy and he didn't think I was crazy, he thought I was doing something, he didn't have the balls to do. It was, it was an amazing moment. It's just a huge personal shit. So then for the next five months I figured out, you know, a little bit about what I wanted to do, which at the time was to sell electric cars of the other companies in 2000 and eight rev, there was, there was a Tesla barely, there was a company called, think there was a show dynamics making fleet electric pickups from in Vancouver here, there was a handful of companies, none of whom had a single product that they were ready to sell to me to ship into Canada. So I realized if I was going to be my word and that was to put an electric car on the road in 2008 come hell or high water. that was my commitment to myself. I came to this conclusion a few months later, I have to do it myself.

So that was that, you know, by a pickup truck, start talking to people about it, start internet, internet, networking with the local community. I put out a press release on Canada Day 2000 and eight that we would be the first electric car show in Canada. People started walking in the front door, gas prices were through the roof, that all the car companies are going bankrupt. It was kind of a perfect storm not to raise capital, but at least to draw media attention. And engineers started walking to the front door saying they wanted to help me. Now, if they were, if they were building engineers or bridge civil engineers, I would have hired them because I didn't know there were different kinds of engineers. We're talking an extraordinary levels of naivety and ignorance. But you know, when I look at how how incredibly unlikely all of this was, the only answer I have for you is perseverance and grit and what that looks like in day to day practice as a person is putting one ft in front of the other. It's the literal action of getting up every morning and doing something towards your goal and you're really floundering all over the place.

You don't know exactly if what you're doing is the right things, but you think they're the right things and like even Bill Gates said about half of everything he did was a mistake and you can make a ton of mistakes, but if you just keep moving forward a tiny little bit it adds up, it adds up exponentially over the course of a year. So that's a that's a little bit about the messiness of starting ref. Yeah. Mhm. I'm really excited to share something a long time in the making with you. My first online course over the years, I've trained thousands of founders through my book, accelerated startup and my infamous pitching like a boss workshops and keynotes like I've done for thousands of founders, I will teach you how to pitch like a bus and for the first time ever I will be doing it in a cohort based online course. This is the world's most comprehensive and intensive course for entrepreneurs and future founders on pitching. It will help you craft the perfect pitch for investors and customers. It will also help you master public speaking, get funded, communicate your vision to grow your team and dramatically improve sales of any product. Check out golem dot net slash pitching that G O L O M B dot net slash pitching for more information.

See you there. Mhm. So you you built vehicles you sold to even the U. S. Government with rev, but at some certain point you transitioned to Mafioso talk a little bit about how you pivoted what happened with rev and what was next? Yeah. So rev was making electric SUVs and pickups. We designed a 100% electric modular drive system that replaced the gas drive line of a ford escape or ford F 1 50. We got a lot of attention of ford but they were not ready to go all in. They wanted hybrids and we were pure electric and we built our own drive system and electronics and software. Built a cloud computing engine that can connect remotely to every vehicle on the grid. We have vehicles in Hawaii with vehicles in Detroit. We have vehicles with the pentagon. We've vehicles with Chrysler vehicles all over Canada and we could see the total energy and the total emptiness. What would be called capacity of these batteries on all these electric vehicles in aggregate. So they appeared on our software network as one single source of energy that could be dispatched in the local region of the network of the power grid that they were plugged into When they were plugged in, which is about 98% of the useful life of a car.

And so that a tremendous interest to the government because we can feed energy back into the grid with the hardware we built on it and that could run you can run a military base off your electric cars for example. So you can imagine the kind of energy security and independence that provides to a military micro grid and then after five years of doing that hand to mouth government contracts that were lucrative but not lucrative enough, natural gas prices wiped out our focus on fleets. So natural gas prices fell 15 x. There was no sign of any recovery there and the fleet customers, we're really going to go back to converting the trucks to natural gas instead of electric. So I thought about for months about all the other things we could be doing with the connected vehicle that we had on our network and the use cases, the list was really long, well over 100 use cases that were valuable. And I thought the only way to serve all those use cases is one would have to build an open network with connected vehicle software tools that app developers could leverage to build apps for your platform and you know, that's a pretty good idea. And so that led to my Geo Samoa joe is this little guy here connects to your O.

B. D port of any car under the sun and turns any car into a smart car. So I pivoted, I found in my studio and raised so much money for it and modi became what is now one of the fastest growing connected car platforms for consumers in the world is distributed in nine countries through wireless carrier partnerships. So our carrier partners tell us Rogers Bell T Mobile MetroPCS, Deutsche telekom all distribute this guy as an add on to your cell phone plan. So we took away the payment friction of having to buy the device and you get to turn any car into a smart car. Now consumers can buy the device still and they can subscribe to it. But really from what you told me in the past is that selling the data is the real play there. And a lot of start ups, a lot of startup pitches. They're talking about selling data, talk a little bit about kind of this, this business model and why the data and the vehicles is so important. Well I think, you know whether it's Kickstarter or crowd whatever it is, Indiegogo or so many product centric platforms these days and so many product centric entrepreneurs with their product ideas and they're missing something.

They're all missing something. If you're in the business of selling a thing to sell the thing to sell a thing, just go sell that idea to Procter Gamble, you can't make a go of just selling stuff. You have to have kind of a two sided platform. So on the one hand, this provides value to the end consumer because it connects your car to the internet. They can track their teenage son or daughter who's recklessly driving their car on weekends. They can automate their fuel reporting and they automate their, their diagnostic information of their engine life and all that good stuff. But there's also another benefit to the company and the shareholder which drives evaluation because selling this one at a time is not going to drive evaluation and that's the data. Never. Has there been a platform that was able to collect the sensor data and the engine data and the behavioral data of millions of different types of cars across 30 years across 7000 makes and models in nine countries. You know, the breadth and the depth of data there is astonishing. We're talking petabytes of data that is collected and can then glean and discern new insights into human driver behavior, into insurance, use cases, into finance, use cases into uh smart traffic infrastructure, interfacing into uh drink needs at the gas pump and so on and so on and so on.

So Maggio we thought about the hundreds and hundreds of things that you could do with the data. If you could have it all its aggregated, it's anonymous. It has, we have no interest whatsoever what the customer is doing with that data. Um, and then you know, it's great to figure out all these great use cases. But man selling it is another thing, it's really tough, what's it worth, you know, what's the hurdle rate of that, of that, of that insight to Exxon or to Allstate insurance and that just takes a lot of business development and a lot of discussions and a lot of time. Yeah, I think one of the most fascinating, I think we talked about this once, once before. It's just gathering kind of the live weather data that's on the roads from devices like this and selling that. I mean, that kind of illustrates it very quickly. It's good. Yeah, I mean windshield wiper speed times 10,000 cars on the one on one between San Jose and San Francisco, we'll give you micro weather information that weather stations can't deliver. It drives me nuts. Every time I open my weather app, it tells me the weather in South Vancouver, that's 14 miles away.

We have 14, micro micro weather patterns in the north shore alone. So it's sunny enrichment all the time and it's never in sunny, never sunny north Band. So it's useless information. I need weather related to where I am now. Yeah, it's fascinating. So, um, I want to get to your magnum opus, your Damon. Everything you learned in your career, you know, as an, as an athlete, as a young hustler and then into, into the tech business for a number of years. Um, you've already successfully launched that can say that something arguably it's more difficult than launching a new auto brand new motorcycle brand. So you have a very interesting story of how you got to Damon as well. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to create it. Sure. You know, I've heard that quite a few times in the last two months that everybody thinks building an electric motorcycle company would be harder than building an electric car company. Um, I kind of hope you're wrong, but I don't know if they're built an electric car company.

Well, not really. So, Damon is the future of motorcycling and it's really easy to kind of be like what? And actually bigger than that were the future of light eaves and the light tv is a vehicle that's bigger than a e bike or scooter, but smaller than a car and goes on the highway. And that represents about 75% of trips in the world. Just under half of all miles traveled worldwide are on two wheels. And that is just not obvious to the public. Uh, and that, you know, for over 100 and over 100 mega cities of greater than 10 million citizens, the motorcycle is literally the only way to get around. People don't ride a bicycle between two stores. They don't walk on a sidewalk because it's full of motorbikes. I kid you not. Uh, and there's no subways and buses that can make it through the throng of motorcyclists, congesting the traffic network. Uh, and so the motorcycle is the only way to really travel for, for the whole world. And yet, if you look at the, The state of the motorcycle industry, it's a solid 2030 years behind the car in terms of technology, safety, zero emissions, et cetera.

And so there's a huge gap here. It's this massive overlooked segment of transportation that is the largest and will always be the largest for at least the next 50 years because the cost of motorists nation on a motorcycle is a fraction of a car and you know, worldwide, 1/5 of the world is motorized. This is exactly like how a quarter century ago 1/5 of the world had access to a cellphone And now that 4/5 of the world have access to a cellphone, you could say the world has access to information, unlimited information on the Internet. So then the other 4/5 of the world is going to motorized over, the over the next 2025 years. And there's no question as to how it's not going to be a bicycle and it's not going to be a car, right? It's the segment of that. If they were all electric Damon would call lives. So we have to look at what the future of notarization is necessarily going to be based on the past and work our way backwards to today. To define technology and a product that's going to get the world where it needs to be, the world needs to have vehicles as safe as cars.

Every single person on earth needs a vehicle, as safe as a car. But in most of the world we need a much higher freedom of mobility that only a motorcycle can provide. Especially because that congestion. So if you look at Jakarta or Mexico City you're talking about or bogota, you're talking about congestion levels, people per square mile, that's 10 to 20 times higher than Manhattan In Manhattan is the highest congestion in the world. So, you know, I looked at all of that over the last uh it was the year 2016 after I traveled to Jakarta, I went up there for my best friend's wedding for nine days and found myself unexpectedly riding a motorcycle for those nine days behaving like everybody else out, there 22 million other motorcyclists and it was really eye opening, but it wasn't until I nearly drowned in the ocean that trip that I started thinking very differently about those 22 million people. I had a seven hour ride back from one side of the island of Java to the other, reflecting on the fact that I had to yell out for my best friend to swim 200 ft down a riptide.

Two fish me out of the water. He very easily could have drowned with me, thank God he happened to be a lifeguard in his younger years. And so he knew how to fish me out. He's also a surfer. So he didn't write, he didn't swim up the riptide came in and out of it at an angle, which I knew nothing about. Uh and uh yeah, so the next, the next day for seven hours on a motorcycle riding from one side of the island of java to the other really gave me time to reflect on my life, You know, it was it was definitely uh you know slap in the face. Uh and I thought this is really um a gross mistreatment of the public by the manufacturers of Honda, Yamaha, whoever that they are not doing anything about the safety of their customers. It's unbelievable. Mhm. Yeah. When companies start to catch fire and blood scale and look for capital to fuel that growth or look to find the right exit strategy, they often seek the counsel of investment bankers drake Star Partners. We work with some of the leading companies in global tech on capital raises. M and a corporate carve outs packs and much more and we're pretty good at it.

Our team of over 100 technology sector experts across nine offices in six countries is comprised of not only career bankers but experienced executive venture investors and technologists, drinks are partners is the number one ranked and fastest growing mid market investment bank across U. S. And europe. While I focus on mobility and energy transition sector along with all things Silicon Valley, my partners from the pacific to the atlantic and around the world, Leading software media communications and everything in between, learn more about us at drake star dot com. Yeah. Mhm. So you focused on safety and um for those who don't know much about Damon, let's talk first about the kind of the safety aspects. And I guess that's part of the brand. Uh very thoughtful brand. And the outside Observer can see that Damon's brands very well curated and the image you want to create and safety is at the core of it. Um, talk a little bit about how you kind of made that real that safety aspect. Well, uh, I came back from Jakarta and spent many months doing all forms of kind of research around the problems of motorcycling and the statistics and the cost of GPS to the country's for motorcycle injuries and so on and so on.

And it eventually eventually concluded on this may seem really obvious collision warning systems. But where I came away from was in 10 years, motorcycles need to be semi autonomous and let me define that we're not talking about my ability to put my feet up on the handlebars and lean back and have the thing coast down the street for me, nobody wants that. And uh, but we are talking about a vehicle that has the ability to avoid an accident if I don't, so if I don't take the right evasive action in time, the motorcycle will, for me whether that's breaking or leaning or steering and the fact that we only have two or sometimes three wheels really changes the whole thing. It is nothing like a collision avoidance system on a car or a collision warning system on a car because of the fact that the vehicle has to balance and and that changes algorithms that changes placement of sensors, the types of sensors you need that changes the kind of drive by wire, steering and braking. We're going to eventually need to move into collision avoidance and so on and so on. And as I work my way backwards from a semi autonomous vehicle to today, what's the M.

V. P. Of that? It's blind spot detection, its forward collision warning. It's a rear view monitor that shows you everything behind you at all times. That eliminates what people don't know are substantial blind spots on a motorbike and those are contributed by terrible mirrors that vibrate and show you your elbows on all motorcycles and a truncated field of view on a helmet and no rear view mirror of any kind that you're used to having in a car and the fact that you don't have a cage. So we really need to have this invisible force field this bubble, the safety zone that that gets larger with the, with the, you know, preeminent warnings of a collision warning system. And um, when you built, when you design Damon obviously was gonna be an electric. Um, and we've talked about this before, but I think it's fascinating and you really identify this that for example Tesla had to build not just the best electric car, but arguably best car on several different dimensions for consumers to go for. And certainly for mainstream talk about that kind of in parallel with motorcycles where your focuses.

Yeah, there's a lot of maybe not a lot, but there's a handful of other electric car companies out there, excuse me. Electric motorcycle companies out there and they vary in performance, in style and whatnot. But they're really replicas of the last 20th century. They used a traditional frame, they try to find space for battery within that frame. They try to find space for an electric car motor within that frame and and everything is oversized and you're stacking compromise on top of compromise and you get this compounding effect of of an inferior vehicle. So, the electric motorcycles of today are inferior to the gas motorcycles. Now, any intermediate motorcycle rider who has enough money to buy good motorbike doesn't want to compromise from their gas motorcycle to an electric one. Just to do the right thing. There's not enough benefit there. And that's what Tesla understood, test understood that the car has to be better in every single way. And if a Damon electric motorcycle can't be better in every single way, then we're gonna be selling into a tiny niche, which is like a fraction of a fraction of the electric motor of the motorcycle market and the motorcycle market is twice the size of cars per units every year.

That's the sun is a big market, but the fraction of a fraction is not worth getting out of bed for. So we had to really think about the complete reengineering of a motorcycle from scratch to be the best electric motorcycle we can, if you look at Tesla, they didn't make a model three to compete with the Mercedes, Benz C class or the BMW three. They made the best possible Mid priced sedan. They could having nothing to do with any other car company made the result of their sales. Is that outselling all other midsize sedans combined times plus 29%. That's extraordinary. They didn't take market share from BMW for Mercedes, they took market share from the entire segment and everything below it. And that comes from a total reinvention. You know, the trade off of that is you have to invest an extraordinary amount of money to build better technology from end to end and Damon is doing exactly that. Talk about some of the specs on the game and I think for the motorcycle writers, this is a pretty exciting guys like me and you. Yeah, It's easy to remember. It's 200 mph, 200 miles of range and 200 horsepower and you know, it's cute, but it's also 200 newton meters of torque.

It's actually 235 m of torque. But we round all the numbers to 200 because it sounds good and it's easy to remember. So, you know, you're talking about a vehicle that outperforms the Duke a tv for the Honda CBR 1000. Uh, the Yamaha R one. It's a better motorcycle in every way, shape and form and it will protect you from an accident and notify you of a threat and you can see everything behind you and it transforms at the push of a button from a commuter position to a super sport riding position while you ride. Yeah, it's pretty exciting. I'm very excited to get mine as soon as possible here. Yeah, totally. When, when can you started taking pre orders? And the company announced back at CS in 2028 to best in show and a dozen or more of other awards and has really kind of catapulted um, what's the timeline, I mean with, with vehicles, a lot of times between the time when the vehicle is announced and when it actually starts shipping like a horse, I can famously took almost five years. What's the timeline and where's Damon these days?

Yeah, Well, thankfully we're not gonna take almost five years, but We plan to ship in the back half of next year. We have an order book that has been growing exponentially month over month. It's literally grown from a million a half in orders a month. Last year to may was 2.9 million preorders. So we're well over 29 million projected revenue. Almost 1200 units ordered for just a sport bike, not just a sport bike, Just the Super Sport category, which is arguably the smallest category of the sport bike in and we have over 1100 preorders. So, people putting in order and today really, they're not getting their bike till 2023 unfortunately, and that's just the size of the backlog that we have today. It's pretty fantastic problem have for any startup. Now this doesn't, this didn't come without major challenges. So let's say, let's put aside the typical challenge at every startup has, which is raising money. Uh, what has been the second biggest challenge for Damon throughout its not that long lifetime so far, I'm sure we have our biggest challenges ahead of us still, like I'm gonna put no small emphasis on the importance of manufacturing and quality manufacturing and quality control and warranty and all that kind of stuff.

We are exceptionally focused on design for manufacturing from every stage of the prototype, we DFM everything And I just know that it's going to be tough no matter. Our team has over 200 years experience designing, developing and shipping. All manners of electric vehicles were manufactured everything under the sun that rolls on wheels including beetles, bikes, cars, trucks, buses, and details. Uh, and that said, it's never fun, manufacturing is hard. So, I think our biggest challenges are still in front of us. But all of our challenges have been around financing and I've been raising money every single month for the last 13 years, but it's the effects of the challenges of financing. Covid was super hard for Damon. We raised only three million total in 2020 We raised 30 million in the first month of 2021, 10 x in a month. As soon as you know, the feeling that Covid was out of the way and the politics and the U. S. Had changed and the investors were coming back in droves. But you know what happens when you aren't raising money fast enough?

If you're not hiring fast enough, you're not building fast enough, you're not prototyping fast enough, you're not marketing enough. And you know, it becomes this massive effort of standing in the middle of the room and trying to hang on desperately to the four walls. You know, try and grabbing a wall. It's nearly impossible. You can't grab a wall, but it's that's what it feels like. You're trying to hang onto the four walls to keep the building together. I'm really speaking about the motivation, the continual motivation and excitement of your team under such times of duress, which can last months and months. And for Damon, We went through these kinds of times five times between 2017 and the end of 2020 where we were literally running on fumes and you know, cutting salaries back and laying off contractors and cancelling projects. It's super hard and you know, if someone had unlimited access to money the time it would take to get from a to a product out the door is literally half the time. Yeah, it's from the outside, you know, it's always uh it always looks like a success overnight, but it's many years and sleepless nights.

Mhm. You need an extraordinarily naive amount of confidence that you're just gonna make it in, that even while you worry at night and while you think it's, it's going to be impossible and this maybe this time it really is the end, you know, you have to just tell yourself no, it's not and get up and make that one small step in front of the other. Some entrepreneurs are irrational, right? So we have to, with facts staring us in the face, we have to be religious level, faith in ourselves and our team and the decisions we make. Now. Exactly, yeah. Now, speaking of religious level of faith, do you think we'll ever have that autonomous motorcycle? I hope not. Um okay, so we have a vision for a vehicle that is not not much wider than your shoulders, the same as a motorcycle. That's really important because for most of the world, you really cannot take up more space than yourself on road or you will be in a massive traffic disadvantage, you get pushed back by the waves of motorcycle. So you have to be on a vehicle that's no wider than yourself, but it needs to be convertible.

Uh and it needs to lean because if it doesn't lean, it's not, it's not something you ride, it gives you that high freedom of mobility. It needs to avoid an accident for you. Uh, but, but it's not a car, it's like a riddle. What is that? And I'll leave you guys with that. We have a pretty clear idea of what that is, but it is a vehicle form factor that's not a motorcycle, it's not a car, not in the traditional sense of either, but it's taken the best of both and it's low cost, it's on a subscription plan, you can ride it per hour or you can, or you can lease it per year. And, and it's, it's as safe as a vehicle, as safe as a car. And that's really where we're going with this is a semi autonomous. What absolutely needs to be to keep you from being in curricula and that's it. Yeah, motorcycle. We ride motorcycles for fun. Other parts of the world, depend on this transportation and something in between will be quite interesting. They do ride them for utility purposes, like a car, but they actually get emotionally excited about them like a motorcycle.

And if you go to stand in a traffic intersection, you know, at the corner of a traffic intersection of a big, big road in Jakarta, One of the largest cities in the world. And they're all wearing helmets, they're all wearing leather or armoured jackets, even though it's 30 C, it is and if you unzip their jacket, three out of 10 of them are wearing some form of a motorcycle branded shirt underneath. They live and breathe moto gP. They live and breathe the culture of motorcycling. Yes, they ride a motorcycle five days a week to get to work and then I kid you not, they go on weekend rights with hundreds of others who share similar interests in the in the type of bike that they own. So it is a really interesting blend of I ride a motorcycle the way we ride a car, but on weekends ride a motorcycle, the way we ride a motorcycle, it's pretty cool. It's a sense of identity is very, very strong there. I think what you're just talking about totally. Yeah. Now last question, I think it's super relevant especially for you is you know, no, you know, now what advice would you give your teenage self?

You now have two sons that are almost the age where you get started, you know, in your adult adult life, what advice do you give them? Would you give them knowing what you know, now, You know, with my older son is 12, he's almost 13 and up until last month for the last five years, he's been absolutely committed that he's going to go to mars and all he wants to do is be an astronaut and so constantly giving advice about staying school, study hard. Typical stuff, but the really big thing is like I said, um I don't want you to go to space, but I want you to do whatever it is you need to do to be happy first and foremost. If you're not happy, nothing matters. If you're not happy, you won't stick with it, you won't find a grit and perseverance, you won't find the dedication, you won't get through the hard times. Are you gonna be happy all the time? Never. No one's happy all the time. But if you're happy most of the time, you're probably on your way and you're in the right direction and people struggle really hard with all the inner voices in their head, you know, and those voices are not your own, there are the voices of society, the voices of your parents and the voices of conditioning.

And just the biggest thing is to learn to build the mental barrier to those voices and to move forward to the thing that you think you need to do no matter how ridiculous or stupid it sounds because every super good idea sounded ridiculous at the beginning. I think Albert Einstein said at first your idea will be ridiculed and then it will be violently opposed and then it will be received as self evident. You know, for the greatest craziest ideas, whether that was atomic atomic nuclear fission or that uh you know, Elon musk saying, I'm gonna build a rocket, getting laughed at out of the bar by Russians, you know, when he threw in his own 20 million and he was looked at as a banker from Paypal, you know, whatever it is, it goes through that process and you're going to, you know, scare people away, but if it's what makes you happy, you just have to do it, it's a great way to end this episode jay. So thank you very much for taking the time. I think your insights and your, your story, your personal story building these companies and what you're doing with Damon is very exciting and informative and inspiring.

So thanks for making time. We are all behind you with a future safe and more exciting motorcycles. I am especially excited as you know. So thanks again for being on the show, thank you very much. And if you guys want to learn more, go to Damon dot com. It's spelt like matt Damon, leave you right there. Thanks everybody. That was our conversation with J jareau founder and Ceo of Damon motorcycles. If you enjoyed this episode, don't forget to give us five stars and your favorite podcast platform and share with your friends so you on the next one and in the meantime you can always find me at Gholam dot net. Yeah, yeah,

E7 | Season 2 - Jay Giraud (Damon Motorcycles)
E7 | Season 2 - Jay Giraud (Damon Motorcycles)
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