One of the advantages of working at GrantTree is meeting countless exciting businesses working on amazing, life changing ideas. Last week I’ve chatted with Tim Brownstone, scientist, keen sportsman and CEO of KYMIRA to find out what sparked the idea for his company, what keeps him motivated and how their work will change the world for the better.
Let’s start with your actively trading product, the KYMIRA Sport line. What inspired you to start working on sportswear that incorporates infrared technology to stimulate performance and recovery?
The original studies that steered me into this direction were done by the NASA. They experimented with light emitting diodes to stimulate plant growth in space stations and found that cells exposed to near-infrared light — energy just outside the visible range — grow 150 to 200 percent faster than those cells not stimulated. I thought if plants benefit from infrared light, it should surely be applicable to cells of the human body as well.
Tell us more about the original line of products, the KYMIRA Sports line. How does it work and what role does it play for the company as a whole?
A common misconception is that infrared is just heat, but it isn’t. Our fabrics capture your wasted energy (like heat) and convert it to a specific wavelength that has been proven to have beneficial effects on your body, recycling your energy and re-emitting it back into your muscles. It leads to an increased circulation, increased tissue oxygen levels, increased cellular metabolism and energy production as well as pain relief. In short it helps you to achieve more and heal faster in case of injuries.
It’s success laid the foundation for us to branch out to other areas. After all, harvesting wasted wearer energy has a million other applications, from consumer products – lights, batteries, safety equipments – to medical tools and space technology.
At the moment we are working on broadening the sportswear line with garments specifically made for triathletes and ski and snowboard enthusiasts, but our energy harvesting technology is in a proof of concept phase as well.
We are often asked why a fast growing sportswear company isn’t enough, but to us the answer is simple: If you have the ideas, the resources or the talent to create change and help people, why wouldn’t you?
Being able to harvest energy with sustainable methods is indeed one of the most urgent problems humanity has to solve in the near future.
Yes. You know if everyone were to use KYMIRA’s technology to charge their cell phone batteries, that would already make a huge difference, saving enough energy to power 2.1 million people’s homes within the UK for a whole year, that is enough for entire countries in some cases!
But why not set bigger goals? After all entire countries are able to run on renewable energies already: Costa Rica was able to source 100% of it’s energy needs that way – mainly hydropower and geothermal – over the first 5 month of the year.
Setting out to change the world must require the right team tackling the problems. How can you hire for such ambitions?
We try to always hire the right person for the job, regardless of background, connections or gender. Interestingly most of our hires arrive through referrals from my international networks or straight out of university – we haven’t had much luck with recruiters and we just can’t afford to make the wrong hire while the business is still fragile and young. I will sometimes hire the right person for a role I plan for them to move into, for example our office manager (our first hire) is a fantastic people person but until recently we didn’t have enough people for her to manage! Typically if someone has got far enough to get an interview from us then I and my team will likely already think they have the right attributes, and then its partly down to me to sell my vision to them!
If I can sell my vision for what I want to do with KYMIRA properly and light a spark in the interviewee that means they leave thinking ‘wow, I NEED to work for/with that company’ then we are off to a good start. Fundamentally though, to work at KYMIRA you need to be loyal, ambitious, creative, willing to go the extra mile and in it for the long term.