Raj Thiruchelvarajah Podcast TranscriptListen to episode here
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: [00:00:00] Had like two or three other Premier League teams come to us to buy rather than us go to them. So it's just flipped around. Now, the medical market will be a big market for us could not only have a more successful outcome in surgery, but then you can get back to kind of walking and daily life quicker.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: We can have that, that impact on millions of people.
Amardeep Parmar: Welcome to the BAE HQ podcast, where we inspire, connect and guide the next generation of British Station entrepreneurs. Today we have with us Raj Thiruchelvarajah. Who's the co founder of Hytro, which is a blood prayer resistance wearable used by many of the top Premier League teams. Say hi to everyone Raj.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Good morning Amar, thank you very much for having me on here. A real pleasure to be here and uh, yep I'm co founder of Hytro at the moment. We are Making inroads into the Premier League and actually a lot of top flight sports teams across the world thankfully.
Amardeep Parmar: The product you've got now, it's such a different and interesting idea and like being the co founder of a company like this must be really interesting. But did you ever think you'd be in this kind of position you're [00:01:00] growing up?
Amardeep Parmar: Like what was like growing up for you? Did you have this belief that you get to where you are today?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: No, so I'm a little bit older than you so I'm 40 now and when I was.
Amardeep Parmar: You don't look a day
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Uhm, so when I, when I was younger, like being an entrepreneur, it wasn't really a thing. It was particularly being an Asian background. It was okay so which investment bank you're going to join, which big four accountancy firm or which management consultancy firm you're going to join. And that was very much the standard route.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I only ever say maybe last five, maybe 10 at stretch years is that kind of change to be something different. So I never thought about being entrepreneur. Um, I started my career at a big four accountancy firm and then went into banking management consultancy for about 15 years or so. Eventually then I was like, well, this is what, what am I doing?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: As I remember, I was kind of, um, a magical consultant for them and I was thinking, okay, so do I want to try and make partner here and I just thought I don't want it. I don't, I don't want it. It doesn't mean anything to me. It's, it's not going to fulfill me. It's not gonna, [00:02:00] it's not gonna, I'm not gonna be happy from that.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I was, you know, I was also looking like, okay, what am I doing it for? Is it money? They don't really earn that money and money, but not stupid amounts of money. Is it, you know, is it power? It doesn't really, none of it made any sense. So I actually took time out, um, I went on a sabbatical for about a year, came back and then I realized that I want to run my own business, I want to do my own thing.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And I've always been into sports, health and fitness. And um, at that point, uh, I met a guy called Paul Harter, who's actually one of our co founders on Hytro. And Paul was actually 60 years old. He was a really high flying M& A lawyer, um, a big international firm. He'd just retired and he'd founded a company called Goalmaster.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: That was health, fitness, nutrition, coaching for busy professionals. So I joined him on that company as a CEO. And as that part of that company, we hired, uh, Dr. Warren Bradley, who's our chief nutrition advisor. And after a few months of working together, Warren came to us with an idea and that idea was Hytro.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And that's how that started.
Amardeep Parmar: [00:03:00] So, taking that sabbatical, right, because a lot of people, I know, talk about taking a sabbatical. And they talk about taking a sabbatical for many years and never take a sabbatical. So, how did you actually take that jump? Was it something which was quite an easy decision?
Amardeep Parmar: How long did it take you to pull the trigger? And was there any reservations you had? Were you confident in that decision or did you regret it when you first did it?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah, so for me it was comfortable with it. So at that point, I was trying to work out how old I was, maybe 34, 35, something like that. I've established my career.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So I know I can always go back for one thing. So that's, that's the benefit of doing these things when you're a little bit older, right? You can always go back and get a good job. So don't, don't worry about that. Um, I'd just been working ridiculous hours on a project, and it was, I was really tired, really fed up with it all.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: We, at one point, I think we worked like some of the guys in May, we worked like 30, 40 hours without leaving the office. Like that was, it was nuts at one point, and I remember getting like the bonus and all the rest of it and thinking, is it really worth it? What, where's the fulfillment in this? It's like, it's not [00:04:00] money, it's nothing.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: It's, it's just, I don't see the point. And I need a break. I want to, I've always traveled a lot. I've always gone to try and experience different things through life. I think that's really important. I think one things that being a startup founder shows me is experience ladders up and experience all kinds of things like work experience, life experience, people experience, all of it ladders up into a better you, which then helps you be a better founder.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, and so going away and I went to, I think it was Malawi when my first stint and I went out there for about three months to start with. It was a bit of a no brainer. It's like, I haven't spent much time in Africa. It's a great opportunity to do that. I went and kind of volunteered a company out there so I could use my skill sets and actually work with Malawians as well.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So that was fantastic. And for me, it was, yeah, risk free really, to be honest. So it made sense.
Amardeep Parmar: I know you said that it's all about using your existing skill set to help people as well. Because even with what we're doing today, right? The whole idea behind the BAE HQ is using the skills that we've built up in other areas.
Amardeep Parmar: Whereas if he wants to help people, we try to do something completely [00:05:00] unrelated to our skill set, it's more just performative, right? It's like I could go to the middle of nowhere and build a school, but I don't know how to build a school. And I could like, I'd be having to learn how to do that for the purpose of
Amardeep Parmar: maybe trying to make myself feel better about myself, whereas like I said, it could be more useful in a way to use the skills you've already built up and then you're really making a difference because you can have more, add more value by doing that. And did you find that sense of fulfillment by helping people in Malawi and using those skills compared to being a management consulting?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, so being a management consultant, firstly, I'll say it's, it's. Filled with really smart people spending time doing things which may or may not have value, right? Some of it is some of it is not and actually you could say that there's an argument for , there's a lot of tons of people being wasted in management consulting firms. It's filled with really smart people.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: If you take that skill set and you put it somewhere else Absolutely, you're gonna see a really big impact and actually I think in some ways being a management consultant. it's a great leap to going on to a startup life and I've [00:06:00] seen that im, from my old consulting firm, quite a lot of people have gone on to being kind of startup founders, because again, it's, it's a really good general skillset that you can have, and then you can take that and make a bigger impact somewhere else.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, but it's, it's that, that, that bit again about the experience that you have. I have tremendous respect for 20 year olds who have found their business, like I could never have done that. I would be in no fit, you know, shape to do that, I would have failed without doubt. The time and experience I've had during the years where, you know, I've got to now, but I'm being 14 running my own business
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: was absolutely valuable to me and without that experience, I couldn't have done it. So now I'm in a position where I can add value. I can, I guess this is also a point where when you're founding a business, you don't know what you're doing, right? And you don't know really can add value or you can even do it.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And I founded a business in blood flow restriction wearables, which I'd never heard of four years ago. So I don't know. It's, it's a journey in many ways, isn't it?
Amardeep Parmar: And like you said, can you explain what a blood flow restriction wearable is for the people [00:07:00] listening who maybe, uh, like I was when I first heard about it.
Amardeep Parmar: Sounds really cool, but what is it?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah, so blood flow restriction training is actually a modality of training that's been around for many years. It's widely used in elite sport and by medical practitioners for rehabilitation. So with the most delicate of individuals, it's never made the kind of the mainstream because of the products available.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: They're really expensive, really cumbersome. Uh, you require one on one supervision by a practitioner, but it's an incredibly scientifically robust training method to build muscle, accelerate recovery or improve your endurance. And so what Warren, his credit came up with, and Warren has a PhD in human physiology, spent a decade in elite sports.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: He came up with the idea of integrating it into clothing. So therefore you can now make it accessible. You, you circumvent a lot of the safety issues around positioning of the straps, uh, occlusive stimulus and sound. So now we've made it scalable. So it's the first accessible BFR products available. So now we've got, for example, Premier League clubs, uh, [00:08:00] using BFR technology that we produced for recovery, uh, squad wide recovery that they couldn't have done before, rather than having one practitioner with one player rehabilitating.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Many of the clubs have now got, um, like their teams. Game day post post, uh, game day plus one, they'll all be using Hytro products. And that's, that's a brilliant for us to see. And they're even using it in like, I think, I think I name it like Leicester city. They're using it in the pool at the moment, which is fantastic recovery, but never designed for that, but they found a different way of using it.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And it's because we can provide a performance advantage for their players.
Amardeep Parmar: And when you came on board at the beginning, right, what was the initial process like of setting up the company and trying to get those first clients? Because like you said, like people go to your website, they're going to see you've got some pretty amazing clients.
Amardeep Parmar: And that huge names out there and how did you get this as a new company?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Uh, so we made a lot of mistakes to start with waste a lot of time and effort. Um, so the original idea for the company was sort of Gymshark out there and thought, okay, that's a great company. Now, if you can make [00:09:00] Gymshark t shirts with technology that meant you can develop muscle faster.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Surely everyone want it turns out, it's not that simple. Uh, and actually over kind of 2021, we realized that our roots are in elite sport. And actually, that's where we all feel much more comfortable. I mean, that's Warren's background as well. It's, it's kind of what I prefer run the fitness influencer market.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Nothing wrong with that market, but it's not where I feel particularly comfortable. And actually our community and a lot of companies talk about community. We weren't, we weren't intrinsically aware of our community. Almost, it almost just happened organically is elite sports practitioners. So the S and C coaches at football teams or the physios or the performance coaches, they all bought into the idea of Hytro ‘cause they understand BFR training and they wanted to be part of it.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And so that's our community. And we kind of pivoted away from this gym shark kind of building muscle in the gym to elite sports. We used our relationships and our network that we had mainly through Warren and then people associated the brand [00:10:00] to open the doors to the clubs. And then we started selling to the clubs and then it started to snowball.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So once you can sell to one club and they're using performance, they can see the performance advantage practitioners that one club speaks to another club. And it's like, okay, do you know what I'm doing with Hytro? Oh, can I try it? Okay. Yeah. Here's a, here's a, it's a product to try to test it. Our product is brilliant and I, um, I, you know, obviously I'm biased.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I know it's brilliant. Um, all the feedback that we've got, you know, received from the clubs is that it's a fantastic product. Um they're seeing the advantage and then it's just scaling and scaling. So we're getting now inbound calls rather than us having to go to clubs. So I think it was two weeks ago, three weeks ago, we had like two or three other Premier League teams come to us to buy rather than us go to them.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So it's just flipped around now.
Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And I guess that turning point is so nice, right? Because a lot of people maybe don't realize when you first start a company, a lot of it is cold calling, cold emailing to try and get those first clients. And then the important thing is once you get those first people is to really treat them well and get those testimonials because that's how you get further clients.
Amardeep Parmar: [00:11:00] And then it all flips and it becomes not easy, but like I said, they're now coming to you and you don't have to prove yourself as much. It's not you coming from a position of weakness, like we need to show you that this works too. We can prove this works. Everybody's using it. They all say it works. And when you were talking to those clubs initially, like what was your role in that?
Amardeep Parmar: Did you find it intimidating to talk to, say you're talking to some of these huge clubs? Obviously you had the experience in management consulting, but was it different when it was your own company and it felt like your baby to say to them and like get them on board?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah, it's actually, it's actually quite nerve wrecking.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, obviously Warren does a lot of the science aspect for that. And, and I'm there more from the business kind of, how do you, do the commercials and all those kind of things, you feel like you've got a lot on the table. So it feels like rather than you're there for, you know, part of a big company, you're there for your company.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And it's really as quite nerve wracking. You actually really care about the deal. It's the same when you're doing kind of fundraising as a founder, like every time you speak to someone, it's like there's a big deal here, right? You need the money coming in, you need the sale and the pressure always feels on, [00:12:00] um, which is actually kind of, it's a nice thing because every day matters.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Every day counts, right? And that's, that's the beauty of being a startup founder as well. Um, you know, what you're doing is really meaningful because if you don't do it, you've got a big problem, right? So, um, that's, yeah, it's, it's very different, but it's kind of perhaps more satisfying even though the pressure is a bit.
Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And like with the co founders as you've mentioned, like, the different backgrounds you'll have. How has that relationship been? How have you managed to kind of make sure that you're all doing the right roles and keeping that relationship strong between you so you can keep growing? Because obviously it's something difficult for many people is like, how do you find the right co co founder?
Amardeep Parmar: So what traits do you think makes your relationships work?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah.So I think we were just talking kind of before we went on about. I've got incredible respect for solo founders. Firstly, I think it's, it's a really tough job being a co founder being doing it on your own is probably unbelievably hard. So don't kind of applaud it to anyone who found their own business on their own.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I would always advocate getting a co founder or multiple co founders because it just enhances your skillset as long as [00:13:00] they're complimentary. Um, for us, it's all, it's very, very clear. So kind of Warren's the technical science guy. Warren has, before we joined hytro had no real business kind of background at all.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Obviously I brought that to the table. So that's why I'm the CEO of the company. And that's why I kind of, I kind of run the company that I don't do it in a dictatorial manner. All right, that's not my style. It's it's, uh, we do it very everyone kind of does get a voice in the room and that's how it should always be.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, we'll have to make decisions. I'll make them and that's, and that's kind of, you know, back obviously stops with me. Paul is kind of send me on board, he's kind of, he's kind of like a part time, Paul is retired, right? He's there for advice. He's there for his network. He's there for his input.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: He's brilliant at critical thinking. So I know, I know the kind of things I need to go to Paul for when I want his input. So that's, that's an easier kind of relationship to manage. And Paul also knows when, like, not to kind of involve himself. I mean, he's obviously very successful. I mean a a lawyer, um, far more successful [00:14:00] than I am, but he knows where the boundaries are.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: He knows what he can do and what he needs me to do and why I need to responsible for. And that's clear again with Warren. So we have a really nice dynamic. We don't always agree on everything. We have some robust discussions and that's the way it should be. I think we found it. And if you're not having that, that's a problem as well.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, but it's something that's evolved over time, but it's actually quite comfortable relationship between the three of us.
Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, and obviously you're growing the team as well, right? And how did you go about that hiring decision and getting the right people on board?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah:Uh, well, we didn't to start with, so, uh, we made, we've made a few mistakes on the hiring.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I think that's, it's kind of inevitable. We hired a CMO originally, who on paper was brilliant and he's a lovely guy and I really like him and he's a really nice guy and it just wasn't the right fit for the company in terms of he would have been a great CMO later on in our journey but you need a very different skill set at the beginning when you're starting out and we've got Rich now on board and Rich is absolutely fantastic right as I see him he's ex Nike he's got, he's ex Nike but he can take what you'd learn from [00:15:00] Nike and translate it to startup life, which is very different.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, so we've got it, so it was a painful move from the first one to the, to, to Rich. Um, and I think what, one of the things that there's a saying where you shouldn't hire kind of family, friends, kind of people, you know, like that, but actually that is the best way in some ways to vet them. So hiring people you kind of know is actually a
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: bit more reassuring. There's no easy way of doing it. And you think you're going to make the cut quickly if you know, it's not working. I think that's the mistake I made, maybe the first time around the CMO is not making that cut quicker because then we may have been in a better place, but it's, it's a tough hiring and startup very difficult because you're limited in funds, limited time, need to really get it right.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: You know, you need a scale of skill set in the company and it's like, how quickly can you do that? It's kind of, it's almost inevitable. You make some mistakes on that and it's mitigating those as quickly as possible.
Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. It's interesting. You said there about the family and friends aspect, because I've heard quite different opinions on this.
Amardeep Parmar: And I think I've done it in [00:16:00] both ways myself where, when you get family friends to help you out, sometimes the problem is that if somebody hasn't done something right, it's kind of difficult to then be like, well, this kind of sucks. I can't fix this because you've got that personal relationship as well.
Amardeep Parmar: But then when it's someone external, then it's also, again, the boundary setting is really difficult. I think, especially in a startup and it's different to corporate life, right? Because in a big company, there's rules, there's HR departments, everyone kind of knows where they stand. Within a startup, you kind of need people to fill the roles that are there, and it's going to be much more generalist skillset.
Amardeep Parmar: And it's like what you and me both do, right? It's like, we just take on whatever there's not somebody to do. We'll learn how to do that and start doing it. And you need those self starters, especially at the beginning of a company, I think, who are willing to do things that are a little bit outside their defined role.
Amardeep Parmar: Because especially when you hire them, you don't really know what the role is going to be until it progresses a bit more. Right.And it's like you said, with the first CMO is that the skillset when it's 1000 people in the company or 2000 people in the [00:17:00] company is very different from those early days.
Amardeep Parmar: And even within management consulting, what did you find with the cultural changes that really shocked you in a way that you had to work differently in a startup versus when you're a consultant?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Well, going back to the hiring piece, I think the problem with the hire in a startup is it's kind of, it's so important.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: You can get it wrong in a big corporate and it's not the end of the world. And you can move people out. I remember joining a team at my last consultancy, um, gig. And it was like, I didn't like. I didn't, I didn't want some of the people on the team because I knew it wasn't going to work. And it's just like, okay, I'll move them out.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: That was easy. Right. It wasn't, it wasn't any, any big problem. But in a startup, you get that wrong. I, you can, it could end the company if you get it wrong. And I wouldn't say back, if I hadn't made that call, at least when I made it, then that possibility could have been there. Um, in terms of different cultural changes, I think there's a, this has to be in a startup, but all hands on deck kind of thing.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Right. It's a bit kind of what you alluded to now in terms of the role that you're doing changes and you sometimes, I remember working when I was a [00:18:00] bank and I had this one guy working on the team and he was like, this is my role and this is what I do. And, oh, you asked me to do something that doesn't fit into this box.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Well, even then I was like, you know, I don't understand that mentality. It's like, you know, that's not how you progress in any way, way of life, right? If this is, this is how you think, if you come to a startup without you in the last five minutes, because that does not work, you may come in to do this role, but then we've got these hundred other things happening.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I need you to help with it and I expect you to help with it because that's the way of startup life is and you've got to learn and adapt and constantly innovate to keep things going where, you know, any one time kind of Warren and I spend this, you know, spinning 400 different plates, right? We're doing everything from designing the products to kind of selling it to Premier League teams, right?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And everything in between. And it's just, you have to be able to kind of multi scale at all points. And there's a good argument for startup founders to be Generalists because you do have to be everything. It becomes problematic later on in your journey. Probably you've got to kind of grow with the [00:19:00] company. I've seen that already Um, but it's just that all hands on deck mentality is probably probably the biggest difference I think.
Amardeep Parmar: And what ways have you do you think you've grown so far for the company?
Amardeep Parmar: What have you improved at because of the journey you've had so far?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So one of the things i'm not good at i'd say is uh, so i'm not particularly a people person, right? So i'm not, My wife often tells me like, I kind of, I tricked it. So when, when people meet me in life, I'm quite sociable, right? I'm quite, quite chatty, you know, I, you know, I'm happy to talk to people, but I'm definitely very introverted and more longer become a startup founder.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: The longer I've realized that, uh, I'm not, yeah. So I like, if someone said like a, you know, you're the weekend goes in your room and you'd be on your own. Do you think I'd be like, yeah, cool. That's fine. I'm happy with that. Um. But obviously everything goes through me in the startup, right? Everything. So I have to constantly be on and become the people thing, even though it's not my natural skill set.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Right? And I have to make sure that I'm very kind of task oriented. Like, what do we need to do to get from A to B? How do we get [00:20:00] there? Okay, let's, let's get it done. But the whole thing is every business is a people business. And so I've got to really dial that up and make, make sure I'm always conscious that how are people feeling?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: What are, you know, what's going on in their lives? What are they thinking? And that's it. You know, having those, and I know you're, you're good at that, obviously about the kind of more meaningful conversations, because then you understand them better, you understand their motivations, their kind of deeper lying, kind of intrinsic values, it's easier then to kind of get them to kind of work with you towards the common goals.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And so. That's the bit that, you know, I've struggled with a little bit in terms of, again, in corporate life, that, you know, you don't care so much because you don't have to in some way than you should. But when you're a bank, it's, it's much more ruthless culture. It's like you, if you don't deliver, I'll just replace you, right?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: It's no big deal here. It's actually, I need you to kind of come together. I need to really put more of an effort into that. And that's, that's not natural to me. And I, you know, I have to, have to work on that.
Amardeep Parmar: I think it's something which maybe people who don't have their own businesses. Struggle to understand.
Amardeep Parmar: It's about when you get somebody in at a startup, you've [00:21:00] really got to invest in them as a founder. Right. And it's really important. And it's really important to you. Right. And it's when you're managing a company, that's a huge, you still care, but it's a bit different. Right. Whereas they're coming in to help you feel baby essentially.
Amardeep Parmar: And that's like such a important like relationship and how like life and your work is intertwined now. And that's why if you do join a startup, you've got to kind of understand that relationship that founder has with their company and how important it is to them. And it's like, I've talked about this before about founders also, like you said, like need to
Amardeep Parmar: share themselves about how they're feeling and if they're stressed about things like that, because then their employees and people working for them can understand that and see, okay, like he's not just being an idiot to me or a jerk to me. He's doing this because this is really important to him. It matters.
Amardeep Parmar: And I think that human side of things. It helps in both directions as well.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Agreed. I think it is really difficult for startup founders. You often hear about kind of, um, startup founding teams, uh, and then the first employees. And it's a really difficult environment because startup founders are 24 [00:22:00] seven thinking about your business, right?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: All the time. And you like me and Warren will be texting on the weekends and all kinds of ridiculous hours and Rich in our team now also the same. And it's, we've got to watch boundaries as we expand the team because you, you know, people don't, there's an element of them. Yes. I mean, buy into the culture of startup, but it also, you can't expect it to dominate their lives in the same way it does for you because you're a startup founder, but there's just has to be an appreciation on both sides of where that lies.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Uh, it's, it's a little bit of a difficult balance. I think as we expand. That will be a hard one for me. ‘Cause I, I always think about Hytro. I always, it's always in my mind somewhere. Like, again, you get the classic thing where the wife's going, you're not, you're not there, but you're not there kind of thing.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, and there'll be, I know there will be an element of me of when we have more employees, they'll be like, why aren't you thinking about Hytro at 11 o'clock on Friday night? I'm thinking about it. Why are you here? And I've got to go, no, that's not, that's not rational. That's not normal. And I've got to dial that bit back and go, no, you have to have a life because [00:23:00] that's the right thing.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, But yeah, it's just, it's, I think if you're an employee in startup, you have to appreciate the startup founders. They live and breathe the company and you're a startup founder. You have to appreciate that employees aren't startup founders, but they still care. And they're still, you know, you've got to get the right fit for your company.
Amardeep Parmar: You mentioned your wife there as well. And we talked about this before we started about how to balance that family life and everything that's so important on that side. We've also being the company and like you said, where everything goes through you. So though you don't want to be switched all the time, sometimes it's hard to stop that.
Amardeep Parmar: So have you dealt with that? What tricks have you learned or have you been able to make sure that you're, I guess, looking after both sides of your life?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah. So I'm in this on another webinar, but let's start with a very similar question. The honest answer was I've just really, really struggled. Um, we had, uh, our twins five months ago to five months today.
Amardeep Parmar: Congratulations.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Thank you very much. Thank you- Have twins have a start up and also on top of that renovating [00:24:00] a house and our builder went bankrupt and it's that's a whole nother story. When you like, there's so many stories of kind of how hard founding a business is and kind of how the mental struggles of a founder go through. Add other things to that, and life doesn't stop.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And we were talking about this a second ago, um, kind of with your, your own situation where you launched, was it a couple of days ago, but you've got to see the background of everything that's happened in your life and how difficult it is. And actually he was probably, probably more respect for you on this because it's probably even more difficult given that there's implication of that story in what you're doing right now, which makes it even more emotional.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I'm sure. Um, and it's, it's, it's that, it's that, I constantly have this bit where I'm torn between, I really want to be a good father and spend time with my boys and, you know, you look at the cute little face and I miss him every day when I'm not there. Right. And they're cute little face and they look at you and they smile.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: It's amazing. And I think being a father, I know it's very cliche, but it does change a lot of things about how you are and how you view the world. Certainly makes me much more [00:25:00] emotional nowadays than I ever was before. I must say that. It's a real struggle. I don't yet know of a way to get through it.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Because for example, at the moment, I tend to get up at six in the morning. I start working pretty much straight away. I want to try and help my wife when I'm working at home during the day where I can. Um, but it's difficult, um, because obviously I'm very, very busy. Then I always try and make kind of, you know, the fees and the bath time, but then I get back to work about eight and then work till one, two in the morning.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And that's. Just not sustainable, but there's no other choice. And it's like, I don't know a way through it. Uh, and that, that becomes really difficult because you've got the combined pressures of, okay, I've got to keep this stuff. I want to get the, keep the startup going and it's going. Business is going really well at the moment.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: It's going in the right direction, you know, after a lot of struggle through 2021, the right direction. Funding is a real challenge. And so that's in the back of my mind. It's like, it's all very well. The business is going really well, but if you don't get funding, you're screwed [00:26:00] anyway. So I've got to get that done.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And then also this is all for the family and the children, right? So this is how I give them the life that they want because I need to do well and so you just pulled in so many different directions that it's so difficult to manage and I'd love to know how you've managed to kind of get through kind of this really difficult period for you.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: If you're okay to talk about it, because you know, fair play for you. I mean, a lot of people could have gone. I just need to, I need a break. I need time out completely. I'm going to push this on, but you just channeled it. I think really well.
Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And there's a few points I'm going to pick up back with you there, but that last question you asked, I think it's also about knowing myself.
Amardeep Parmar: I know that if I took a complete plate for too long, then while struggling a bit, it was a whole existential crisis, right? Of after my dad passed away, then what's the point of anything, right? And if I let myself stay in that position for too long, I think it'd be harder and harder for me to get out of it again.
Amardeep Parmar: So it's also, I'm doing what I'm doing now because I know that I need that to keep me going. [00:27:00] And it's putting a lot of pressure on me and like, what was I meant for? So like, um, like the stuff with the wheel is still going on. Like I'm trying to sort out the business. I'm managing other aspects. I've got the clients from before.
Amardeep Parmar: There's a lot on my mind that I'm trying to sort out. And like I said, in some ways, I know that I'm doing too much right now. And I know that, but I also know that if I just took a complete stop. Then I'm scared that I wouldn't be able to get back again, that I'd get myself trapped. So I think it relates to your story in some way, because I think this is critical mass moments, right?
Amardeep Parmar: Where for you, if you, once you get the fundraising sorted, then that gives you the money to then hopefully hire more people to take some of this pressure off you. So that's the kind of the keystone thing there, right? And what I'm doing. It's like once all this stuff is sorted with my family and things like that, and that's all done, then that opens up like much more free space.
Amardeep Parmar: And the difficult thing is in this transition period, it's almost acknowledging this is going to be really hard for a bit, but there's [00:28:00] not necessarily anything I can do about it just yet, other than do my best in trying to get those things done. And yeah, it's, I'm looking at it at the moment through that lens of, okay.
Amardeep Parmar: I can't maintain this for a long time, but also I don't need to maintain this for that long. And if it starts getting too long, that's when I'm going to have to take a break. And I am working way, well, I don't even think it's necessary that I'm working harder than I need to be. It's more that I don't have the mental capacity to work as hard as I want to.
Amardeep Parmar: So I'm burning out not by doing so much work, but because I'm just at a lower capacity. So if this was me six months ago, I would have done way more for this launch because I was in a healthier state of mind. Whereas, like, I guess if you're watching this on the screen now, right, let's say like, in normal times I'm like here, right?
Amardeep Parmar: So I can work that hard and I wouldn't burn out. But right now my mental capacity is about there. So if I'm working like this hard, which is less, it's actually making me struggle a bit, right? And dedicating things to [00:29:00] something that means something a lot is that fire that's keeping me going, that giving me that conviction and make sure that I'm doing things in the right way.
Amardeep Parmar: But I am not under any, like, um, delusion that I can keep this going. I need to fix certain things, have some big things off my plate, like in my personal life, and then that opens me up again to start doing more here. And even what I'm doing now, like, if we just can get the momentum and we get people to keep coming on, keeping the funding, stuff like that, I can hire more people to take some stuff off me.
Amardeep Parmar: And I said, like, it's that thing of, I know that's where I need to get to, it's just how do I get there? Yeah. And it's by doing the right things.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah:Because, because I kind of agree with your point, but I worry about it as well, because I'm in exactly the same boat, and you kind of alluded to it, it's like... I'm looking to the end of the year.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Okay. I need to get these things done like funding. I need to house finish, get these things done. And then, okay, I can hire people and life is a bit easier and move forward. And I can then deal with, you know, other things in a similar way to your kind of, it's the point that I worry about for me and for you would [00:30:00] be, are we just kicking problems down the line?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And actually will it never, we'll never get to a point where you resolve it. ‘Cause I get the funding in and be like, okay, I've got to spend it. I've got full time spending it. Okay. Once I've spent the money, then I can relax as I want to hide everyone. Then you can relax a little bit. And my wife often, often again says, says to me, like, when do you ever kind of, when does this ever end?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: It's always the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. And that's, for me, that's actually part of what I don't, I think makes me, me, like I'm always thinking about the next thing. It's like, how do I then improve what we're doing at Hytro? How do we move to the next level? But there's the element of not
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: appreciate in the moment, not living in the present, always kind of looking forward, um, and maybe not dealing with issues that you need to deal with right now. And so I get the point for you in terms of, okay, so you kind of focus on getting this done right now. I also worry for you and for me that maybe not dealing with the issues
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: that present and I don't know about you in terms of what support network you've reached out to, but for me, it's like screw [00:31:00] support. I'm going to work hard. It's like, that's, that's, that's the way through it. It's like, and I'm not talking to anyone about it. I'm going the way through this is for me to work even harder to get the results that I need.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I need to know by the end of the year, which then makes life easier. Next year, I don't know if that's a good way of doing it, but that feels to be the same similar way to what you're doing. It sounds a little bit.
Amardeep Parmar: I guess one thing I'm doing a little bit different is I'm making sure that I have social stuff in my calendar all the time.
Amardeep Parmar: So I know like review maybe as well. It's like when I'm alone, it's hard for me not to think about all this stuff in my mind, my to do list. When I'm with other people, I kind of relax ‘cause then I start to talk to people about their lives. I start hearing their stories. So I've realized myself that when I'm alone, sometimes it's hard for me to relax now, but when I'm in social situations.
Amardeep Parmar: With somebody I trust and people I like, obviously when you're not with people you like, it's all more difficult, but when it's with people I like, then I'm relaxed more and I get to hear their stories and it just takes me out of my own head a bit. So I found that's quite been really useful for me rather than just obsessing over stuff in my mind.
Amardeep Parmar: I'm allowing myself to be social, see [00:32:00] people like, for example, I dance, right? So I've been going to dance classes again and like give myself that kind of a joy. And it's difficult, I think, because you're working these crazy days, but sometimes what it might be is if you take a couple of hours out to do something fun.
Amardeep Parmar: Then that gives you a bit more energy and it's something which I think a lot of people maybe don't realize is that if you put more time in, if you're burning out, you're actually less effective in some ways. We're just gonna take a couple hours out, do something that's really fun, makes you happy, gives you a bit of joy.
Amardeep Parmar: Then the hours you do work, you're actually more effective.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah, I think that's fair. That's what I'm here for, right? Yeah. That's what I'm doing, it's podcasting.
Amardeep Parmar: And, um, looking forwards as well, like you said, like always the next thing for Hytro. What is the ambition with it? So where do you want to take Hytro?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: There's one of the kind of blessings and the curse for what we've done is it's applicable to so many different people in so many different ways. So at the moment we're focused on professional sport, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. So everybody from your professional athlete looking to recover quicker to your elderly person trying to stave off sarcopenia, which is muscle wasting.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And then everyone in [00:33:00] between is kind of a, is, is, can we benefit from BFR training? So we've got a huge market and actually the difficulty for us. And when we're talking to kind of a VC funds and potential investors, it's not the scalability, it's the sequencing of what we do. Um, and actually. So the medical market will be a big market for us, uh, and we're going to start the baby steps of that next year with a view to kind of get into the middle of my medical market about 2026, uh, the consumer markets were really interesting because there's an element of complexity that we worry about.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And the best way to do that is actually to partner with other brands or license with other brands. So at the moment we're actually working with a premium cycling performance brand to integrate our high, high hytro technology into their cycling bib shorts. So it's a better way into the market. So for us, it's just, how do we kind of sequence the brand and kind of our, our kind of
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: plan going forward to hit as much as possible without overstretching ourselves. It's always that current temptation. You get a lot of inbound stuff coming to [00:34:00] us nowadays because people think Hytro is a lot bigger than it is, to be honest. And we're going, can't do that right now. Can't do that. Can't do that.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: We'll do that one thing because otherwise we're just going to take on too much. That's, that's the tricky bit at the moment, but that's a good place to be, to be honest. I shouldn't complain about it.
Amardeep Parmar: You mentioned there about the medical market in 2026. So recording this in 2022, that's four years away, right?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah. Yeah.
Amardeep Parmar: What I've imagined in my head is that there's a lot of different hurdles to go through that, right? To get the approval, to make sure you've got different tests done, things like that. And for Hydra itself, is it like patented or how do you kind of have the market of how do you protect yourself as you're going forward?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So we've patented the integration of blood flow restriction technology into clothing. So we've actually got a very broad patent, which provides real value for the IP. It obviously doesn't preclude someone in China doing a knockoff, but it protects against the bigger brands likely trying to replicate what we're doing, actually make more sense for them to buy us or to license it because then the IP is so valuable.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: It protects them against competition. But it's just, it's it's that product, which then is we can [00:35:00] kind of flex in different ways. So we've got different products coming down the line at the moment. We've got kind of t shirts, shorts, got women, men's shorts. We've got women's shorts coming through, arm sleeves, leg sleeves, compressive gear, including BFR technology, digital devices, including BFR technology
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: that's down the line for more medical, um, aspects. So there's a long road ahead of us. We're only at the beginning really. Um, but it's a good beginning. Um, and we just need to add more kind of fuel to the fire and grow now.
Amardeep Parmar: What excites you most about what you're doing? What do you enjoy the most?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I think it's the impact of what we can have.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I think Warren, Warren in particular is like, and he says this and I agree with him, is that the medical sphere is where we can really improve people's lives, um, typically, for example, we're looking at, uh, joint replacement surgery to start with that’ll probably be the first demographic. So, we pre and post surgery, improving kind of muscular health around the joint that's being replaced.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So you can not only have a more successful outcome from your surgery, but then you can get back to kind of walking and daily life quicker. We can have that. that impact on millions of [00:36:00] people, the millions of people that benefit from our product. And that's a great thing for us. So we're advancing human performance and human health.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So you're seeing it at the top elite level with Premier League teams want to see it through everyone from, you know, rehabilitation from injury. And it's, it kind of boils down to, it's similar in some ways to kind of what you guys are doing, but different if I can try and connect it. It's like, for me, central ethos is
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: providing other people with opportunity. So however that is, and one of some of the charity work I used to do was about empowering people to start businesses. Uh, and this was in both here and in Africa in particular, and it's like giving them the tools to do that through workshops, through funding, through other things.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: With Hytro, we're giving people the opportunity to improve their physical health and their performance through what you're doing is you're trying to connect and give opportunity to budding entrepreneurs or existing entrepreneurs, people interested in the community to find the opportunities and it's all about the same thing and it connects really nicely.
Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, and I think that's amazing what you just said as well. And I hope that in like 10, 20 years time, I think, Oh, I interviewed that [00:37:00] guy from Hytro before this changed the world.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah. I hope you're not 10, 20 years ago. What happened to Hytro? Who was that guy again?
Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, but it's amazing, right? Because imagine like I know from like the experience of my dad and things like that, where people have been in hospital beds for a long time, there's a really long road to recovery.
Amardeep Parmar: And if you can speed that up, the amount of value that gives people's lives, and it's their lives, but it's also the people around them, right? Where they can come home quicker and they can be around their families. There's so much good that can be done through that product. So like 2026, hopefully that's going to happen.
Amardeep Parmar: And you mentioned there about the workshops you've done for people as well. And what are some of the common pieces of advice you give people that you think maybe they often miss out or they don't hear? And maybe our audience haven't heard that they should hear.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: When you're in twenties, uh, when you start a career of impatience to get on, I remember 25, I think I'm promoted.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I should've got promoted. Why didn't I get promoted? And I'm really upset about it. And down the line, it doesn't matter. Like you get promoted six months later. Who cares? Right. There's a real rush to, to kind of get to kind [00:38:00] of the end goal when you've got plenty of time, right? You've got loads and loads of time go and experience more things.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, my, my advice to everyone in their 20s is travel, experience other things, meet different people, experience different cultures, get out of your bubble, um, try different jobs, try different roles, uh, because it all, as I said earlier, kind of all ladders up, you, you put yourself in a better place later on for success, there's generally this myth that I think social media kind of perpetuates that there's, there's all these 21 year old founders who are massively successful.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Now there are 21 year old founders who are successful and they are phenomenal. Clearly. Right. I can have done it. As I said earlier that at that age, but there were a lot more 40 year old founders who were successful a lot more. And I think there's Harvard, Harvard Business Review, I think found the most successful founders were at 45 and that kind of makes sense, right?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: ‘Cause you've got experience. You've been through, you've done it, you've got the network to be able to kind of actually execute against that. So if, uh, my general advice is for everyone is to do that, can build your network through [00:39:00] communities like this, because when you do that, when you then start your, your kind of your, your, your journey as a founder, you've got a whole community to lean on.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: You've got a whole community of other founders who can open doors for you. And it is actually all about that. Like we, where we are now through the community that we've built in the elite sports world who opened all the doors for us. And, and that's been fantastic, but that came from Warren working in elite sports for a decade, right?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And that, and I'm doing his PhD at Liverpool, John Mills, which has a fantastic kind of network as well. Without that, we wouldn't be anywhere. We, if we were, we were a brand without that connection, we would not be able to get into elite sports and to give us the time of day to go, can I try this product and then go, okay, now it's brilliant.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Um, so there's a whole, take your time. Build the network, build the foundations and then execute. I would say the other converse thing though, because totally contrary to what I'm saying is don't sit on an idea forever. You've got to try it. Right. And you've got to make that leap. Like the world is full of people with great ideas and never done anything.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And that's, again, it's [00:40:00] very cliche, but it's also true. There'll never be that right moment. I would never have said to anyone, you know, found a business and have twins renovate house, stay at the same time, but I've done it and it's brutally hard, but I'm glad I'm in it. I'm glad I'm doing it. And it's this part of the journey, right?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: You have to balance life with the business and you're going to find a way through and we'll all find a way through it. Um, as hard as it may be at the time.
Amardeep Parmar: Yeah. And a few things you mentioned there. So the 21 year old founder stereotype. So the only reason that 21 year old founder story is a headline is because it's so abnormal and people sometimes get that confused, right?
Amardeep Parmar: You see stuff in the news that's because it's unusual if everybody was doing that then you wouldn't see it, right? So you don't see the headlines 40 year old founder creates a billion dollar company because the age isn't so unusual for people to mention it whereas when somebody's very young that's when they do it and it's, it's that thing of the availability and like making sure that you see [00:41:00] why people are mentioning those different things.
Amardeep Parmar: Right. And even for example, I don't know, I'm going to call this episode, but I'm going to call this episode the thing that's most abnormal because that's what's going to get people's attention. But a lot of the stories and a lot of the experience you've had, a lot of people can relate to. And that's the, that's the interesting thing.
Amardeep Parmar: But sometimes you get to take people's attention for things that are different. But how you really build a connection is through the things that are the same and how people can relate to your story. You also mentioned there about build the network before you need the network. I think that's a huge mistake people make is they only start talking to people when they need them.
Amardeep Parmar: And then it becomes very transactional. Whereas if you're just like, Oh yeah, your story is really interesting. I want to learn more. And I don't necessarily need anything out of it. It's just, I want to talk to learn more about your story. And you're listening to people. That's how you build the real connections.
Amardeep Parmar: And I talked to a lot of people where I don't necessarily need anything from them, but I just think they're interesting. And then later on down the line, we might collaborate. We might do something like that. And if we don't, that's no problem. If we do, then that's great as well. And I've had so many people I've talked to that I've literally just enjoyed the [00:42:00] conversation.
Amardeep Parmar: I haven't got any business out of them. I haven't tried to do anything like that, but that connection has really mattered. So we've only got a few minutes left. So we're going to get to the quick fire questions now. So first of all, is there three entrepreneurs that you'd like to shout out that people listening should follow?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Tom Singh, who is the founder of New Look for everything that he's done in terms of building the business empire from, from nothing, really, so fair play to him. And so one of the guys that I used to work at PA Consulting with, actually, which, uh, Asesh Sarkar, um, he's done a fantastic job at Salary Finance.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So he'd be one of the others. Um, they're, they're doing some fantastic work there, which is actually kind of a societal kind of benefit as well. So fair play to them. And I guess the third one, I think I have to pick my Co founder Warren of, uh, he's kind of his tenacity, his drive and his brilliance in bringing Hytro to the world as well.
Amardeep Pamar: And then the BAE HQ, the community is really important. So what can people who are listening right now reach out to you about if they're looking for help or guidance in some way?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: Yeah. So I'm obviously happy to help with anything and anything that they, [00:43:00] I'm obviously happy to help with anything that anyone wants, obviously my constraint is time at the moment.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: In particular, I guess, the journey that I've been on that might relate to them, kind of moving from a corporate world into starting your own business, if they want tips and help on kind of how to do that. more than happy to do that. If they're actually starting in the sports tech space, then I've got a load of network now that we've kind of built up that could help them in that and unlock the doors and the opportunities for them.
Amardeep Parmar: And then on the flip side, what's something you need help with right now? How can our audience help you?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So I think we were talking about earlier in terms of advice on balancing kind of life. If you're having children in particular with startup life, I'd love to know how founders have done that. ‘Cause I just don't know the answer.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: And then on a very practical level, opening doors to funding opportunities is like every other startup. We need that.
Amardeep Parmar: Awesome. So it's been great to talk to you today.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah:No, thank you.
Amardeep Parmar: Really enjoyed it. Have you got any final words for our audience?
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: I think I go back to what we said earlier in terms of always keep your kind of mind open to opportunities- Life kind of ladders up [00:44:00] in terms of experience would put you in a great place kind of to then run your own business.
Raj Thiruchelvarajah: So, you know, keep getting out there, do different things and build that network as well. I think, and hopefully we can do that through this.