The entrepreneurial journey of Timothy Brownstone (CEO of KYMIRA Sport)
04th July 2018 by Akash Patel
This month I spoke with Timothy Brownstone CEO of KYMIRA Sport, to discuss the company, how it came to be and its long-term trajectory. KYMIRA Sport is a thriving sports clothing start-up founded in 2013, to transform athletic performance using infrared technology
The idea was initially developed by its CEO Timothy Brownstone, who had previously read a NASA research paper whilst at university discussing how infrared could be used to aid the growth of plants in space. With the understanding of this infrared technology, Tim set out to develop the concept of KYMIRA Sport which embeds Far Infrared (FIR) producing technology into the fabric of its sports clothing products. The technology in the fabric enhances the user’s performance and recovery during intense training and exercise by absorbing the waste energy from the body and latent energy from the environment. This energy is converted into FIR which increases the production of nitric oxide which then leads to increases in circulation, tissue oxygenation, energy production, pain relief and an increased efficiency in respiration.
Tim had the idea for KYMIRA Sport whilst at university and set out doing the initial research himself for the first couple of years, before beginning to build a team. He launched KYMIRA Sport in 2013 after 5 years of initial R&D. Today, KYMIRA Sport is, progressing towards becoming an SME, with views of developing their technology further for enhanced recovery and rehabilitation from injuries to chronic conditions. As Tim informed me “KYMIRA Sport has 38 FDA approved medical device products, aimed to use for rehabilitation, physiotherapy and the treatment of a range of chronic conditions such as arthritis”. KYMIRA Sport has come a long way since their early conception in 2013 and are now pushing to be a global brand “KYMIRA Sport is selling their technology globally, with sales across all major continents mostly to private individuals but it is beginning to break into major athletics with several athletes consistently using their products”, Tim stated. As rapidly growing sports technology company they are increasingly focused towards selling their products to larger healthcare systems both in Europe and North America. In the UK they have begun to sell their technology to physiotherapists in the private setting with an aim to break into the NHS. However, as I discussed with Tim, and as many health and life science entrepreneurs will know, the NHS is a fragmented organisation which is highly challenging to sell innovative products into.
Whilst discussing the challenges of entrepreneurship and of growing a start-up, Tim highlighted the challenge to secure funding for new product ideas and to increase the company size and growth. He also stated that for those thinking of ideas and whether or not to build a company at the very early stage “It has never been easier to build a company, now is the best time, it costs as little as £15 to register your company on Companies House and there is a lot of support for entrepreneurship in science”. With a real-life science entrepreneurial ecosystem growing, Tim is confident that if a young individual graduating with a life science, or any science degree wanted to build their own start-up there is a lot of support available for them. There has been increasing support from universities and accelerators throughout the UK, especially in London. I asked him about young scientists wanting to branch out into entrepreneurship and the importance of promoting entrepreneurial and innovative thinking amongst scientists. “Young people studying science degrees and interested in entrepreneurship should undertake their universities accelerators and start-up idea competitions, these are great ways to develop product ideas, meet co-founders and learn to work and communicate in teams that innovate”. From my own experiences, I have realised this to be an important lesson, to get involved and really test out your ideas and build a team. Building a team is important for every business and it is important to find the right individuals who are equally passionate in the idea as you. Finally, Tim emphasised, “Even if they don’t want to do anything entrepreneurial, many biotechnology companies and SME’s are interested in hiring individuals who are really innovative and create growth”.
In the context of our #worldcupJune theme, I asked Tim about the world cup and his picks “We have the TV on all the time and will catch those crucial games, I have picked Peru, Portugal, Russia and Iceland in the office sweepstakes, so fingers crossed”. After this weekend, we now know that from these four countries only the hosts Russia have qualified for the next stage. Good luck with your team as the tournament progresses Tim!
The key thing I was able to learn from this interview is to develop whatever ideas you have in the life sciences; the ecosystem is there, and you never really know whether your product will be the next great idea without trying. Whether you come up with ideas related to what you learned in class or from your field or even from reading a paper, now is the time to innovate and solve the crucial challenges in life sciences and healthcare!