We know, we’re jumping out of order with our episode highlights. We had so much fun with this interview, that we couldn’t wait to share it with all of you!
On this episode of The Studentpreneur Show, we hear from Rachel Benyola, creator of KOVA. KOVA is a foldable helmet meant for biking, riding scooters, rollerblading, and more. Not only is it stylish, but it also does a great job of protecting your head. Rachel and Taegan talk about changing majors in college, going a different route than expected, and being what Rachel called “a proud doctorate school dropout.”
What is KOVA?
KOVA is a modern helmet company. Founded in 2016 by Rachel Benyola (2017 Drexel MBA gradudate).
Kova helmets are stylish, convenient, and safe!
Rachel and her team are driven by innovation. Their goal is to transform the helmet industry. The purpose of the KOVA helmet is to make safety more convenient and stylish.
Their goal is to “save lives while also helping people feel good about themselves.”
Where did Rachel Benyola get the idea for a foldable helmet?
In 2015 Rachel’s friend was in a cycling accident. While recovering from the accident that left her permanently blind in one eye, Rachel’s friend shared why she chose not to wear a helmet–it was inconvenient.
This struck Rachel. As a cyclist herself, she knew the importance of always wearing a helmet. She thought, instead of forcing people to wear helmets, why not make it a no-brainer for them.
She chose to approach this idea with the consumer’s involvement and take away all the reasons someone wouldn’t wear a helmet.
From her research (asking all the cyclists she knew), she found that people chose not to wear helmets due to lack of convenience and style.
This lead to the foldable, safe, stylish, and customizable helmet.
Rachel Benyola, a proud PhD dropout, followed her passion and has started a revolutionary company.
From Rachel’s story, we learn that conversations with your customers is critical. She wasn’t afraid to share her raw ideas and sketches.
In the interview, Rachel shares her experience being a studentpreneur.
While working on her second masters (her first masters is in psychology), Rachel was running a small company and starting KOVA! She shares that there was a lot on her plate, but was all worth it. She does share that that level of work can burn you out if you keep up with it all for a long time.
The way she kept up was by making the school assignments work for building her business, KOVA. She would ask instructors how to make her business goals work for the course. Her cohort rallied around her too. Several came on as interns.
The best realization was that when she put less pressure on herself, she actually did better in school.
Rachel shares several of the struggles of balancing school and starting the business:
- While startups are exciting, make sure you really see if a team member is going to be willing to through the highs and lows of a start up-she suggests being selective when creating your team.
- Breaks are so important.
- Grades aren’t everything. Go for value, don’t put the pressure on yourself to grow your business and make straight As.
Bright Future on the Horizon for KOVA
We’re so excited that KOVA is officially launching March 2020!
You can currently pre-order your helmet HERE!
Their goal is to take over the helmet world for commuters (bikes, scooters, etc.), especially since they are the only foldable helmet.
KOVA helmets are customizable with their changeable (and washable) skins and interchangeable straps.
KOVA is here for the modern rider experience. Their approach is that “you should dictate what you should think is stylish.”
Seeing a shift in how people move and commute, KOVA is confident that they’ll be part of this shift.
As with any business, KOVA has faced challenges. Unlike other businesses, KOVA’s challenges are unique since the foldable helmet is a new concept.
Challenges in Getting Started
Rachel shares her top three issues with growing the business:
- Manufacturing. Since a foldable helmet has never been made before! She and her team had to make a whole new manufacturing process, not only a brand new product. Getting the right vendors to create this unique helmet was a challenge.
- Finding the right talent. She suggests to have a second person (maybe a mentor) interview to make sure that the hire will be a great fit. To get a second opinion and to share, from their experience, what being part of a startup is really like will help weed out weak links on your team.
- Own self-doubt. Combating imposter syndrome is real when you are an entrepreneur. Rachel encourages people to keep the student perspective while approaching your business. Use the phrase “I’m here to learn” while working on business, just as one would with school.
Rachel ends this amazing interview with so many bits of wisdom.
The best tip is to make time to step away from work so it will clear your head.
You definitely want to listen to this entire episode! You can listen and subscribe HERE!