JENS KOPKE: ‘The painful inspiration for my award-winning start-up’
LYING in the dirt after a big crash, I thought to myself: ‘There has to be a better way!’
Off road motorcycle racing or ‘Motocross’ is a tough, competitive sport. It’s a sport that captured my imagination at the age of seven when I first swung a leg over a KTM 50 automatic motocross bike. Once I got the feeling of freedom and adrenaline, I couldn’t give it up, and 2 stroke mix has pumped through my veins ever since.
Fast forward 20 years, and I have moved on to racing bigger bikes at higher speeds. It was the final round of the Southern Masters championship held near Athlone in 2016 when the idea hit me. Literally.
It had been raining the night before, so track conditions at the start of the day were far from ideal, but the sun was beginning to show its face and the ground was drying out. In the third and final race of the day, my confidence was up with the improved grip, so I decided to tackle the biggest obstacle on the circuit, a 70ft table top jump.
I pinned the throttle open and aimed for the sky, but as I left the take off ramp I was distracted by the behaviour of the bike and lost my concentration, causing me to land off line. When I crashed back down to earth I was collected by a swamp of muck that caught the front wheel, cart wheeling me down the track.
When I finally came to a stop, my neck was stiff and sore, my bike was broken, and I was lying flat on my back in a field in Offaly looking at a big blue sky in front of me. I thought to myself: there has to be a better way – why can’t something tell me how to set-up my suspension properly?
This was the cause of my crash: my suspension wasn’t set-up properly for the conditions and had completely compressed and bottomed out on take-off, causing me to lose control of the bike.
With that, the idea for our business, Motoklik, was born. It turns out that 90% of riders don’t know how to set-up their suspension properly either, and go to great lengths including surgery, to try and solve this problem.
Motoklik is a small electronic device that you attach to your bike. It measures the bike and suspension movements, and using artificial intelligence, produces a list of instructions on your smartphone for the best suspension settings for the current track conditions and your riding style.
We have had great support from Enterprise Ireland, and experienced the highs and very real lows of running a start-up business. This year I decided to prove my worth in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition, which sees young entrepreneurs like myself battle it out to be top spot for Best Idea, Best Start-Up and Best Established Business.
As a proud Graiguenamanagh man, I was delighted to be announced as the Best Start-Up winner for Kilkenny in 2019 at the Smithwicks Exhibition centre on Tuesday April 30.
The competition carries on now to the regional final between Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford and Wicklow on June 19, and if successful I will be put through to the national final in September.
It will be immense for our company if we are successful at national level, and help significantly with getting private investment to commercialise our product. For now though, I am happy to reflect on being the best in Kilkenny in 2019 and would like to thank all those involved in the running of the IBYE competition, and would like to wish the best of luck to my Kilkenny counterparts in the Best Idea (John Duggan, Loanit) and Best Established Business (Rory Gannon, CakeFace) categories.
Jens Kopke is the founder of Motoklik, winner in the ‘Best Start-Up Business’ category of Kilkenny’s Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) 2019. For more information, log on to: http://www.motoklik.com