A brief background…
Funny enough, me and Thomas have only met in person once and it was for a brief moment at a dance club where he was deejaying several years ago.
With the help of social media and our mutual interest and involvement in electronic music production, we connected over the net and have kept in touch ever since.
When I came up with the idea to do Q&A’s with up-and-coming entrepreneurs, there were several people that came into mind instantly and one of those people was Thomas. I guess throughout the years of following each other on social media, I started to notice his progression in education, music production, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and business as a very fulfilling and successful lifestyle that I resonated with and sought for myself.
I am honored to have Thomas on this Q&A, and I thank him greatly for dedicating some time to share his story with us on Dynathrive.
So without further ado, let’s jump into the Q&A with Thomas…
For people that are unaware of the LightMode movement, tell us what the company is all about and what products you are currently selling?
Thomas: Currently, we’re focused on enhancing the night riding experience of motorcyclists through the use of electroluminescent motorcycle helmet mods. We sell kits that allow riders to modify any type of motorcycle helmet by fixing them with battery powered lights that glow, similar to what you’d see in the movie Tron. Most riders put style before safety, but we ask, why not give them both?
What initially sparked, or inspired you to create a product like this? Was it something you were always thinking of doing, or did a specific source trigger it?
Thomas: When I bought my first motorcycle in 2013, I really wanted a helmet similar to what I saw in the movie Tron Legacy, but the only thing I could find was a glow in the dark helmet. So, I made my own. I used electroluminescent materials that could turn on with the push of a button. The reactions I received were so incredibly positive, but it wasn’t until I showed my helmet to my entrepreneur friend that I got the idea to turn it into a business. He introduced me to Kickstarter and explained how it could be used as an effective testing ground for a market that was otherwise undiscovered at the time.
What financial backing, or funding did you seek out to get LightMode up and running with product creation as well as distribution?
Thomas: I sought $2400 in funding on Kickstarter to get LightMode off the ground. At the time, I had absolutely no clue whether I’d reach $240, $2400, or $24,000+ so the funding goal was determined by the minimum amount I’d need to order 100 units of every component in a LightMode kit. My campaign closed at around $26k and I was able to purchase much higher volumes and create a much more refined product prior to fulfilling all the Kickstarter orders.
What is your educational background? And how did that help you with creating LightMode?
Thomas: I have a Bachelor of Applied Science in the field of Engineering Physics. I’ve done a lot of self-reflection on how this has helped me with the success of LightMode and I can best explain it through metaphor. Studying engineering concepts and solving very specific technical problems for 6.5 years and then creating a company from scratch is similar to only lifting weights to train for a jiu jitsu competition. Some aspects like mental toughness and physical strength from weight lifting carry over to my ability to tap someone out, but what would have been much more effective would have been to spend most of my time actually doing jiu jitsu prior to competing.
So, engineering school has definitely helped in a sense that it has given me the mindset that every problem, no matter how daunting, has a solution to work towards. I have also met some great people and made strong friendships that are proving to be of great value while running LightMode. However, actually starting a business years ago and learning through experience (and internet – such a powerful tool) would have been a much more efficient approach.
Have you always wanted to become an entrepreneur? Or was it something you aspired to do later in life?
Thomas: I never had aspirations to become an entrepreneur; I sort of stumbled upon it. I would occasionally hear the word ‘entrepreneur’ thrown around at SFU, and subconsciously I would imagine some pretentious, young, slightly delusional, aspiring business student who believed he/she had the next million dollar idea. Perhaps I was too focused on engineering to ever take it seriously. Now that I’ve become an entrepreneur, I want/hope others to try their hand at entrepreneurship as well.
What do you when you aren’t working on LightMode?
Thomas: The great thing about running LightMode is that it does not feel like work for me. A lot of the time, it’s hard to distinguish/define whether I’m working or playing. For example, growing up, videography was always a passion of mine, and now I get to create short films with my friends riding around the city with LightMode helmets on for new social media content. Also, simply riding my motorcycle around the city and to meet-ups promotes LightMode.
When I’m not doing something motorcycle related – I enjoy practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It’s a huge passion of mine which I’ve been doing for about 5.5 years.
I remember when you were active in the electronic music scene, deejaying and producing your own tracks. Is that something you still do today, or even dabble in from time to time?
Thomas: Yes, music production is something I still do, and I often integrate it when creating new social media content for LightMode. Running LightMode keeps me extremely busy, so I do my best to integrate as much as I can in my life. Readers can listen to my music here: https://soundcloud.com/axialmusic
Is there such thing as too many failures?
Thomas: Oh man, this sounds like a heavy philosophical question. I was just watching an interview by Alex Becker, CEO of Source Wave, with self-made multi-millionaire business owner/investor, Com Mirza. Com was sharing his stories about how many times his businesses failed. It wasn’t until his 9th company that he first succeeded – every company before then failed and he described the excruciating difficulty to experience compounding failures. In the interview, they spoke about Michael Jordan’s mentality in a basketball game. Occasionally, you’ll have a bad game where you miss 9 out of 9 shots in a row, which is extremely discouraging, and would cause many basketball players to second guess that 10th, 11th, etc. shot. Michael Jordan on the other hand would simply never give up and never believe he’s made too many failures.
In business, though I’m still very new and have not made very many failures, I accept that they will come and as long as I learn from them, there’s no such thing as too many. Life is about learning and self-improvement. Nobody is born with all the right answers. You have to guess, test, learn, repeat what works and reject what doesn’t.
For anyone out there reading this and hesitant about pursuing their entrepreneurial journey, what advice would you give them to get things started?
- Focus on solving a problem that a large number of people want solved. You get paid in proportion to the level of difficulty of the problem you solve.
- Learn from other people’s successes and failures. Analyze what successful people are doing and duplicate. Identify why others have failed and avoid making the same mistakes.
What do you usually spend the first and last hour of your day doing?
Thomas: First hour: usually checking my e-mails, social media posts, messages and cooking breakfast.
Last hour: usually watching some videos on science, motovlogs, cars, or talks/interviews.
What was the last book you read?
Thomas: Hah, probably some physics book back in University. I really should dedicate more time to just sitting and reading. Instead, for now, I watch/listen to a lot of interviews/talks/videos of very successful people such as Tai Lopez, Alex Becker, Elon Musk, and Charlie Munger to name a few.
You have already accomplished many things in your lifetime… but what is next for Thomas? As well as the future of LightMode?
Thomas: Hmm.. I’m just going to keep going with the flow – learning, growing, etc. My goal is to build LightMode into a multi-million dollar company. I’m going to stay focused, and adapt when necessary.
Thank you Thomas for taking the time to answer these questions. I am confident that readers will gain a ton of insight for their own path by reading up on your personal experiences about life and business.
Lastly, where can readers find you online, and connect with you?
Thomas: You’re very welcome! I hope my answers will be of help to some people as well.
Readers can find me/LightMode here: