While traveling through Indonesia, Jay Giraud had an epiphany. As he watched thousands of commuters traverse the streets of Jakarta on motorcycles, he noticed there was a rhythm to how the bikes moved. They fluttered back and forth like synchronized bike flocks. He was both amazed and concerned: The sheer number of bikes choking the streets of cities around the world meant motorcycles were a massive global polluter. But seeing them move in unison gave him a vision of what a semi-autonomous motorcycle might look like.
That “aha” moment led to the creation of Damon Motors, the electric motorcycle manufacturer Jay launched in 2017. His goal with Damon is to do for motorbikes what Elon Musk has done for cars and, in the process, achieve zero fatalities by 2030.
Listen now and learn how Jay went from being a professional snowboarder to a visionary in the worldwide transportation industry.
Before any world-changing innovation there was a moment, an event, a realization that sparked the idea before it happened. This is a podcast about that moment — about that idea. Before IT Happened takes you on a journey with the innovators who imagined — and are still imagining — our future. Join host Donna Loughlin as her guests tell their stories of how they brought their visions to life.
Jump straight into:
(03:22) - Jay Giraud’s story as a high school dropout and a professional snowboarder in Vancouver - “Academics wasn't really a high priority for me other than to graduate.”
(07:16) - The U.S. invasion of Iraq for oil: How seeing the war on TV ignited Jay’s interest in the energy sector - “I spent many months really ruined over what I saw and trying to think about what a snowboarder from Whistler could do about the dependence of oil on the planet.”
(09:19) - Jay’s foray into transportation tech and his blank canvas epiphany - “Realizing that you are nothing, Nothing with a capital N is really meaning that you can be a blank canvas with which to paint a picture of any kind that you want for your future.”
(13:56) - The massive motorcycle market and Damon’s lifestyle-branding strategies - “The importance of building lifestyle products that people really want to align their personalities with; I take that from snowboarding.”
(19:26) - The gift of inspiration and the difficulties of the entrepreneurial path - “You go to complete poverty every time you start a startup because it's either that or you quit on all the people that depend on you, the people that are excited about your vision.”
(22:44) - Motorcycles, the vehicles of the fastest-growing middle-class economies in the world - “The car's never going to make sense for more than half the world's population. It's not about income. It's not about affluence. It's about actually moving at more than three miles an hour.”
(25:53) - Jay’s accident in Jakarta: How to bring safety to hundreds of motorcycles moving in a flock - “When I founded Damon, I wasn’t really sure if we could make motorcycles safer. I had no idea how that was even possible.”
(29:58) - Is Damon a western solution? - “How do we roadmap a collision warning system to behave the way you need it for places like New Delhi, Jakarta, and Mexico City?”
(34:26) - Engineering the gold standard: The public’s reaction to Damon’s electric superbikes - “As of today, we crossed over a thousand pre-orders just for the SuperSport bike. It’s about as popular as a Ferrari or a Tesla Roadster.”
(35:42) - Dom’s idea for the first prototype - “He says, ‘Well, it'd be cool. You could have like two bikes in one. You could have a commuter bike and in one moment, press the button and you could have a super bike’.”
(41:13) - How to think beyond the obvious? - “We just have to do whatever it is that’s inside us that we can't ignore and just be okay with it. Otherwise, we're unhappy.”
(42:37) - What is coming for Damon? - “In 10 years, we’ll be the most valuable motorcycle company in the world; we will have completely rewritten all the rules for what a motorcycle is and reset standards of expectation from the consumer public.”
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Before IT Happened is produced by Donna Loughlin and Studio Pod Media with additional editing and sound design by Nodalab. The show coordinator is Deanna Morenci and the Executive Producer is Katie Sunku Wood. All episodes are written by Jack Buehrer.