Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alex Arkhangelskiy, CEO and Co-Founder of Brake Free Technologies, Inc., located in Broomfield, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Brake Free Technologies designs and manufactures innovative safety products. We are a team of riders that share a love of the sport and a desire to bridge the gap between safety and style. We are passionate about creating truly beautiful and functional products for the sport we love.
Our first product is Brake Free—an ultra-bright smart LED brake light that instantly improves a motorcycle's visibility. It mounts on the back of the helmet you already own, and its sensors work automatically to let others know whenever you slow down―braking, engine braking, or downshifting. No need for a wired installation or connected apps.
Our customers are mainly motorcycle riders looking for a simple and effective way to improve their safety on the roads by drastically increasing their visibility to surrounding drivers. With the recent increase in the use of personal electric vehicles like e-bikes, e-scooters, electric unicycles, and more, we find these folks also benefit from our products.
Tell us about yourself
After graduating from San Jose State University and wanting to put my degree in business/entrepreneurship to use, I asked one of my professors to help me find an internship with a startup. She put me in touch with an entrepreneur who was looking for a marketing intern. In this internship, I got to do market research and analysis and learn about patents, manufacturing techniques, prototyping, fundraising, and so much more.
By the end of my internship, I decided to pursue an idea I had for a motorcycle safety product that could save many lives. I built a team that could help me develop the idea and help me make the idea into reality. Together we did a lot of research, wrote a business plan, competed in business plan competitions, developed prototypes, and eventually launched our idea on IndieGoGo. This is a passion project for me, and I am grateful every day to be able to do what I do and know that we're helping make riding motorcycles safer.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of our biggest accomplishments was being able to pitch Brake Free to a worldwide audience on ABC's Shark Tank (Season 12, Episode 8).
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
There always seem to be more projects that need your attention than there is time in the day to get everything done. The hardest thing for me is identifying the top 3 projects that will move the needle for the business the most and making time every day to complete them. These projects are typically not urgent but very important, so it's critical to make time for them even when there are a lot of urgent projects requiring your attention.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Build a network of mentors and peers that are working on or are experienced in the type of business you're looking to start. They will help you navigate the challenging business landscape and help you overcome the challenges you're facing. Mentors can be great books or podcasts, helping you learn about specific topics and get a better perspective on the problems you're facing.
- Build strong relationships along the way. Don't look at people as a means to an end but as an end in itself. Offer help where you can so that you're not only taking but giving as well. Don't burn bridges, stay humble, and check in with your network periodically (not only when you need something).
- Don't try and do everything on your own. Some entrepreneurs will want to tackle every business challenge themselves to save money or because they are afraid to ask for help. The truth is, doing everything yourself will lead to burnout, stress, poor relationships with friends and family, and so many more issues. If you want to do this for the long haul, build a strong team that specializes in areas that you're not good at to help your business grow faster.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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