Magazine article Black Enterprise

Riding High: Entrepreneur's Motorcycle Helmets Fuel Company's Success

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Riding High: Entrepreneur's Motorcycle Helmets Fuel Company's Success

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

WHILE STATIONED IN JAPAN AS A U.S. NAVY PILOT IN 2002, Kerry Harris took to riding a motorcycle to better navigate the heavy traffic. But there was one problem: "It gets hot," says Harris, a native of Canton, Ohio. "And when you start to perspire inside the helmet, the visor fogs up." A tinkerer by nature, Harris attacked the problem, outfitting his helmet with computer fans and batteries.

The result: rather than flip up the visor to get air flowing, a mere push of a button would do the trick. Harris eventually went from recreation to inspiration, and launched IHT Technology Inc. in San Antonio. The company generated revenues of $1 million last year.

At first, Harris, 38, had no plans to start a business. But by 2004, after friends kept bringing their helmets to him to outfit, Harris recalls, "it dawned on me that I might be onto something." So he focused on creating a wireless power system integrated into the helmet.

Startup capital consisted of personal savings and investments by family and friends. While he estimates that he spent $250,000 in the first couple of years, it was pay-as-you-go. "It was not a high-tech operation," recalls Harris, who began the company with more confidence than cash.

Initially, Harris intended to sell the patent for the technology to other helmet manufacturers, but one by one they turned him down. …

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