Jay Giraud: An Automotive Tech Entrepreneur Creating Smarter, Safer and Connected Motorcycles
Watching older brother race remote cars excited Jay Giraud, an automotive tech entrepreneur, while growing up. Those days, the remote cars had tall antennas on them, and Jay assumed the electricity traveled wirelessly from the remote-control batteries to the car. Jay started arguing with his father at the gas station that “he didn’t need to put gas in the car because his Ford Fairmont also had a tall antenna on it. By the time I was 12, I believed all the cars would be electric one day. Nobody ever corrected me,” Jay recalls. Little did he know, he would go on to create world’s safest, smartest and connected electric vehicles one day.
At 20 years old, Jay chased his teenage dream to become a world class snowboard competitor. By 22, he was ranked #1 in BC in all disciplines, #9 in Canada for Boardercross and 89th in the world in halfpipe ranking. With 11 sponsors (amateur and pro rankings), he had a decent run until injuries caught up with him. While working at a bar one year, he watched the US bomb Baghdad, and that ignited his passion to find a way to get the world off oil. The passion that stayed with him and led to the foundation of one of the most promising EV companies, Damon Motors, that exist in the market today.
From completing the Landmark Education curriculum in 2007, Jay created his life purpose to transforming transportation, having concluded that it has the single greatest effect on the quality of life for societies worldwide. REV and mojio played an important role in preparing him to create Damon Motors, which is advancing motorcycling, the largest form of transportation at 44% of global miles traveled. Jay’s purpose with Damon is to become the world’s most prolific light EV company and he is sure of fulfilling it very soon.
The foundation story
The idea of Damon Motors was born in Indonesia. While on a trip there, “I was amazed by the vast dependence of two-wheeled vehicles compared to North America. I gave it considerable thought and had a vision that I could rival existing gas-driven motorcycle options that ultimately offer no safety features,” Jay says. In 2016, he met Dominique “Dom” Kwong through common interest in motorcycling. Jay has a legacy of founding and leading several transportation technology companies including mojio and REV Technologies. Dom brought a legacy of hardware, software, AI, industrial, data science, deep learning, and cloud computing. Together the duo decided to transform two-wheel transportation and aimed to prevent accidents on the road with foundation of Damon Motors.
Ensuring rider, a smarter, safer and connected ride
Less than three years since foundation and Damon is changing the future of transportation. The team at Damon has created the world’s smartest, safest, most powerful, fully connected electric motorcycles. They’ve infused data-driven thinking into the company, employing radical innovations in sensor fusion, robotics and AI. This level of deep learning and connectivity are unprecedented, ensuring each rider a smarter, safer and connected ride; not only for individuals, but for entire communities, with the goal to reduce incidents worldwide. Furthermore, Damon has put its CoPilot™ 360° collision warning system to the test and it has shown 100 percent effectiveness in increasing situational awareness and reducing the probability of a forward, side or rearward collision with over 100 motorcyclists in real-world road conditions.
Unique features that set Damon apart include:
● CoPilot™ – Damon’s advanced warning system powered by
Blackberry QNX technology that uses radar, cameras and non-visual sensors to
track the speed, direction and velocity of up to 64 moving objects around the
motorcycle for unparalleled situational awareness. CoPilot intuitively knows
what’s around you at all times by tracking and warning riders of danger through
haptic feedback on the handlebars, integrated LEDs on the windshield, and an
always on 1080p rearview camera.
● Shift™ – Damon’s patented rider ergonomics that lets
riders electronically adjust the Hypersport’s riding position between sport and
commuter modes while in motion with the push of a button.
● HyperDrive – The
world’s first 100% electric, multi-variant powertrain platform optimized for
maximum performance, design and safety.
Worldwide, motorcycling is the largest form of mobility and a global health crisis, with 1.5 billion people commuting on motorcycles every day, where serious injuries are 27 times and deaths 5 times more common than cars. In some countries related injuries account for 3% of their GDP. Damon’s vision is to advance motorcycles to become friendly, safe and easy to ride, mass market personal vehicles that deliver a high freedom of mobility and zero tailpipe emissions. “We believe that the only way to bring about a paradigm shift in motorcycle safety is through the use of radically disruptive technology and thus we are fulfilling this need with an electric offering that sets a new standard in motorcycles—smarter, safer and connected,” Jay shares.
An unprecedented growth never seen before
For Jay and his team, unveiling the Damon Hypersport at CES 2020 was a huge milestone. In less than three since inception, Jay’s team is demonstrating the world’s smartest, safest, most powerful, fully connected electric motorcycle, the Hypersport. “We have since won 6 awards: 2020 CES Best of The Best of Automotive Innovation, Robb Report’s Best of The Best of Auto Innovation 2020, The Silicon Review Top 30 Companies To Watch, BCTIA Best of Innovation, Ready to Rocket BC, CNET Best of CES. Our pre order sales have exceeded $17M since CES 2020. Additionally, we have been awarded first two patents protecting Damon’s CoPilot safety system and have added 5 new patents pending to 30 total in ADAS, powertrain and battery pack design,” Jay says about the recognition and awards.
Making sure that mission is alive and real
Jay believes great innovation falls out of integrity. And integrity in everyone’s work comes forth when people are inspired by what they do, by the vision and the mission of the company they work for. “So first, we have a clear, concise mission and we make sure that mission is alive and real for everyone every day. And second, we hire truly A class players who often times leave less inspiring work to be a part of Damon. With this as our foundation, our team cohesion and common vision creates a culture that doesn’t tolerate mediocrity. In this way, the innovation and the integrity takes care of itself.
“The product of this is our customers will know Damon means integrity in the design, performance and customer service we deliver. Through social media and events, we have a constant feedback loop with our customers and listen to them to ensure we are on task with our promise,” shares the disruptive automotive CEO.
The moment of having the will and the stubbornness to see through
One of the most valuable lessons Jay has learned from building startups is how important it is to impress “my will upon reality, especially when reality is not lining up the way I need it to.” There are so many instances when he’s had to make ends meet when they just don’t, and get things done that so often seem insurmountable. “When we committed to attending CES 2020, we had no way to pay for travel costs, show costs, rent, even payroll costs, and we had only a few weeks left to figure it all out. Despite this, we hired a PR team, brought in new marketing talent, booked all the logistical needs and committed to booth space. In other words, we bet the farm.” With not much more than sheer will, Jay and team showed up, got the prototype bikes there, and had explosive growth from the show opening right through the year. “Although this sounds like a rare ‘put all your chips in’ moment, the truth is we face leap of faith moments like this constantly,” Jay adds.
Sports background of team, a huge asset to Damon’s success
As CEO and Co-founder of Damon, Jay’s priorities are the company’s people, the strategy, and the cash position. To this end, he proactively collaborates with all aspects of the company operations and team, gliding across the org chart from end to end. No two days are ever alike, says Jay. “Changing the world with electric motorcycles is fun, it’s thrilling and its intensely rewarding. In this state you can imagine creativity flows freely and openly around here, and it does. I don’t think of our people as employees, we’re a world class sports team. We show up to win every day or we don’t play. Not ironically, we have
a world champion endurance boat racer, a Formula 1 telematics expert and motorcycle endurance racer, a Kung Fu champion, golf champion, a champion body builder, a national champion flat track motorcycle racer, a college football star, a professional skateboarder, an Olympic tennis player and several others. I consider our sports backgrounds to be a huge asset to our success,” Jay says.
At Damon, they are defining the future of electric motorcycles. As a platform for future Damon motorcycles, the company’s HyperDrive is a monocoque-constructed, high-voltage powertrain that a wide range of models and submodels can be built upon. The HyperDrive serves as the nucleus of Damon’s creations and will allow Jay and team to further evolve their technology and continue to
The fascination towards speed that sparked in young age Jay has been riding motorcycles for over 24 years and has ridden over a hundred different motorcycles on the track and on the road. He recalls his earliest memory from his childhood; “my babysitter would sneak me out of the house on his BMW motorcycle. He sat me in front of him, with my arms and body draped over the gas tank and my legs dangling, and we rode up and down a major highway at well over 80 mph. I remember the speed because the speedometer was the only thing I could see.”
introduce the world’s most exciting and groundbreaking electric motorcycles. Currently, “we are gearing up for the first batch of Hypersports to hit the road in 2021, while also continuing R&D for future releases. We are also aiming to expand our company globally in the near term. As a result of our success in North America, we’re now looking to drive enthusiasm in the European market, including Italy, UK, Germany, and France, which has seen impressive electric vehicle adoption in recent years,” concludes Jay.