Well well do I have a special episode for you all right here. I am speaking to the incredible young entrepreneur who is Laurence Kemball Cook. Laurence is the founder and CEO of Pavegen, an incredibly innovative clean-tech company that has pioneered a flooring technology, generating electricity from the kinetic energy of footsteps- and his mission is to be the Intel inside all our Cities of the future, and literally cover the planet with his incredible technology to change the future of energy.
Laurence is a thought leader and speaker at technology and entrepreneurship events worldwide; his TEDxBerlin talk was featured amongst TED’s top talks on envisioning the cities of the future and changing attitudes to fossil fuels.
6 years into his mission and still very much in startup mode, as you will discover Laurence is genuinely turning this vision into a reality – with a company now valued at over £20m – and he’s attracting the attention Elon Musk, David Cameron, Will.i.am, Pele, Akon, global energy companies and entrepreneurs around the world
This episode will teach you exactly what Laurence has done to get this company off the ground. We speak about:
- Facing rejection from 150 investors and the government
- How he went about raising funds
- The growth hacking tactics he adopted in the early. Illegally installing products in London
- How to recruit the right people, and build a fearless company culture as a visionary start-up
- Changing the future of energy
- Minimum Viable Products, and how Laurence got offers investment from around the world with nothing more than a one page website and no working product
- The lessons he has learned from spending time with Elon Musk
- Morning routines
- Why Laurence manages his day in half hour time slots
- The moment where Laurence was left with £4.00 in his bank account and was a week from losing the company
Laurence even speaks openly about losing people close to him as a result of his obsession with this journey, and the poem he wrote about it! Never heard before a Rebelhead exclusive.
It’s very likely that you’re going to want to listen to this episode several times; it will be rocket fuel for your motivation and will without doubt make you think bigger.
Happy listening, Rebelhead world.
- ‘The best way of learning about anything is by doing’ – Richard Branson
- ‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything’ – Albert Einstein
- For PaveGen, creating a floor that generates energy, has been about fighting against the system. We have no trajectory to follow, there is no rule book, we are creating the rule book every day.
- ‘There are a thousand ways that don’t work, but they’re not failures’ – Thomas Edison
- Passion drives me. When I believe in something there’s not much I won’t do
- I believe if you really want something then you can get it
- You’ve got to be different in this world to stand out
- Technology is only great if you can amplify it (with celebrity, with endorsement)
- Discovery and adventure played a really big part in my childhood. I got in a lot of trouble, I certainly broke rules
- Curiosity is key. I’ve always been really curious about how things work.
- I have an uncomfortable feeling in my body when I have an idea, the feeling only leaves my body when I’ve created it
- In my final year of University, I kept thinking about the problem of energy and I would have sleepless nights over it
- I’m a brand guy, I believe strongly that technology needs a strong brand around it
- I’m a strong believer in getting your Minimum Viable Product out
- As an entrepreneur I believe you should take as many risks as you can; as long as you don’t get arrested for more than four or five hours
- I believe in growth hacking. Growth hacking is the idea of creating exponential growth from a significant event or moment
- I didn’t do an MBA, I didn’t go on a load of entrepreneur courses, I figured real stuff out for myself and I’ve made mistakes. Massive mistakes.
- You’ve got to trust your gut feel of people. It’s important to maintain a great culture in your organisation. I’d really try hard to find people that would fit in, and believe in the vision.
- When you go to NASA, and you speak to the cleaner and ask them what they’re doing; they don’t say they’re cleaning a toilet, they say they’re putting a man on the moon.
- The early days of a startup it’s nitty gritty, you’re in the trenches, you’re fighting, you’re begging people to get involved
- Be the change. The best way to lead is through action. No matter what your job title may be, anyone can inspire the team and become a leader.
- Everyone is an innovator
- It takes a special team of innovators to create a brand new market and invent the rule book.
- It’s all about pushing new boundaries and we really want to encourage people to do that
- You’ve got to jump off a cliff into the ocean, and learn how to swim on the way down
- How can you fight a new idea through twenty levels of management
- Too much structured learning, formal processes and assessment really starves creativity
- You’ve got to be silly, and you’ve got to be creative, I never want to lose that curiosity. Not always asking why and how, and not take yourself too seriously because that’s the only way you can innovate
- I’ve made tonnes and tonnes of mistakes, and I’m proud of every mistake I’ve ever made
- You’ve got to change who you are every three months
- It’s important to keep yourself, as much as you can, at 35,000 ft in a plane looking down upon everything that’s going on; rather than being in the trenches
- Uncertainty is my currency, because that’s what we’re doing here
- Competing in some of the hardest insurance events in the world, I liken that to building a startup
- You’ve got to have big bold ambitions. Now matter how big, or how bold they are, you’ve got to be as ambitious as you can
- For me details is everything. If I don’t have the right details, my company and my vision is worth nothing
- I’ve properly burnt out four times, and i’ve nearly lost the company 15 times
- I’ve been to pretty dark places, and I learnt through all the mistakes that that’s just part of the journey
- If I can climb a mountain at the weekend and come back, Monday is so much better
- Richard Branson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Branson
- Thomas Edison http://www.thomasedison.com/
- Eon https://www.eonenergy.com/
- Royal Society of Arts https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Society_of_Artst
- New Designers Show http://www.newdesigners.com/
- The centre for creative collaboration http://www.creativecollaboration.org.uk/
- The Lean Start Up, by Eric Riess (book) http://amzn.to/299NAhv
- Al Gore https://www.algore.com/
- James Dyson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Dyson
- Elon Musk https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk
- Tesla https://www.tesla.com/
- King Of Shaves http://www.shave.com/
- Vantage Power http://vantage-power.com/
- 0:04:20 – On failure and reinventing the rule book
- 00:06:07 – What is Laurence? A corporate CEO? Engineer? Designer?
- 00:07:15 – Being a disruptive and curious child
- 00:08:59 – Laurence’s perception of money when growing up
- 00:11:49 – What Laurence wanted to be as a teenager
- 00:13:08 – On creating. And bringing an idea to life
- 00:14:11 – The journey from University to entrepreneurship (and Laurence’s first big failure when working on a project for Eon)
- 00:16:32 – The early formation of PaveGen
- 00:24:15 – Raising investment for PaveGen, and being told by the government ‘not to bother’
- 00:25:36 – Growth hacking. Illegally installing products in London
- 00:28:00 – First recruits, and three years of loneliness
- 00:33:22 – Laurence’s best tips for growing and scaling a global team
- 00:35:51 – What Laurence looks for in new hires and recruits, and creating a fearless company culture of innovators
- 00:38:21 – Sustaining creativity and innovation in a company, and throughout adulthood
- 00:44:55 – About what PaveGen is, and the future vision for PaveGen
- 00:49:03 – The importance in believing in your business as a movement, as a philosophy
- 00:49:57 – How PaveGen generates revenue
- 00:52:12 – Shifting from micro advancement to macro advancement as a StartUp
- 00:54:59 – Laurence’s biggest challenges as an entrepreneur
- 00:56:59 – Biggest personality flaws as an entrepreneur
- 00:57:58 – Why competing in endurance events is like running a startup
- 00:58:49 – Laurence’s definition of success
- 00:59:46 – Who Laurence looks to for inspiration
- 01:00:33 – Two lessons Laurence picked up from spending time with Elon Musk
- 01:05:12 – The Rebel Wrap Up round
- 01:06:05 – The poem Laurence wrote about losing loved ones as a result of PaveGen
If you could go back to any point in your life, and have 1 hour with your past self; what moment would it be and what would you tell yourself?
01:05:12 I’ve lost people who have been really close to me because I get so distracted with this monumental challenge I’ve got to power the world with PaveGen. That’s something that I would say, hold on, you’ve got to balance things better. I’ve lost three girlfriends since starting PaveGen, and I even wrote a poem about it once! (Listen to the podcast to hear the poem! A Rebelhead exclusive never heard anywhere before!)
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, who gave it to you and how has it positively affected your career?
01:06:05 It came from Will King (founder of King of Shaves) – and it’s all about team. Look after your team, team is key.
Who is the most disruptive, rebellious or revolutionary entrepreneur of the last 2 years?
01:07:54 Dyson. He’s rebellious and has disrupted so many industries.
What is the one generally agreed upon rule, or conventional piece of wisdom that you disagree with?
01:08:12 The idea that everyone needs to go to school, go to University, get a graduate job with a big company, sit on that conveyor belt, get married, have kids and then die. You can make your own destiny. The saddest thing in life is when people don’t realise their own potential. I hate the idea that life is a conveyor belt. I think people can change the world we just need to think differently, be more curious and ultimately not be afraid to be disruptive.
If you could change one law what would it be?
01:08:45 I’m a feminist. My management team is predominately women, so I would change the law around Maternity leave. Countries like Sweden have got a great attitude towards it. There should be more tax incentives for start ups to hire woman, give maternity leave and not have any concerns about cash flow. Also to even up maternity and paternity cover – why do men not get 6 months and women get 6 months?
What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?
01:09:29 An entrepreneur should know no barriers. They should believe i fate, and do whatever it takes to create their own luck. You’ve got to take it right to the edge, and look over that precipice and hopefully you pull yourself back.
What advice would you give to anyone listening to this who wants to become a creator entrepreneur?
01:10:16 Be passionate. Believe in your idea. Do your research. You’ve got to speak to as many people as possible and don’t be afraid to reach out to senior people to ask for help. Chances are people have done what you’re trying to do before, so look to other people for help.
Who do you nominate to be a guest on the RebelHead Entrepreneurs podcast?
01:10:55 Alex Shay, the founder and CEO of Vantage Power. How would I describe him? Disruptive.