By Donna Loughlin

Jay Giraud’s biggest goal is pretty straightforward — he wants to do for two-wheeled vehicles what Tesla has done for cars. Jay is the co-founder and CEO of Damon Motors, an electric motorcycle maker that is focused on developing the smartest and safest electric vehicles on two wheels.

And his backstory is a good one.

Jay has now launched three startups in the electric vehicle space. But before he became an environmentally minded EV entrepreneur with a laser focus on reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, he was a professional snowboarder. He spent his winters competing all over the world. But in the offseason, he would grapple with the question of what to do with his life after snowboarding. Then, while rehabbing a back injury in Whistler, British Columbia, he watched footage of the Iraq War on CNN and started thinking about oil dependency.

“I spent many months really ruined over what I saw and trying to figure out, ‘What does a snowboarder from Whistler do about the dependence on oil on the planet?’” he told me. “What can I, of all people, possibly do about oil dependence and how to get the world off oil?”

His first startup developed electric-car technology but, despite some interest from investors, the company didn’t land with consumers. Then he launched a platform called Mojio that was designed to connect cars to the internet. Mojio was a success, but while he was running that company, he couldn’t stop thinking about motorcycles. An avid rider for most of his adult life, he got in an accident in Jakarta, Indonesia and wondered how he could make motorcycles — which vastly outnumber cars in some of the world’s most populous cities — safer and cleaner.

In 2017, Jay teamed up with entrepreneur and hardware engineer Dom Kwong to launch Damon Motors, whose HyperSport line of motorcycles has generated headlines, accolades and millions in sales from riders all over the world. The company’s goal is to reimagine two-wheeled transportation for the next generation, ultimately reaching zero crash fatalities by 2030.

“We had to set a goal that’s seemingly impossible because it changes the way people work. It changes what we believe we could do,” he told me. “It was crazy to think we can make motorcycles safer and make them electric and make them more powerful than a gas motorcycle. I know we can achieve zero crash fatalities. I don’t know when exactly, but [2030] seemed doable, so let’s do whatever we can to get there.”

To listen and subscribe to the Before IT Happened podcast, visit www.beforeithappened.com.