Yellowcog is proud to have become a member of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA). It is important to us when joining an organisation to know that they are influencers and will add genuine value to our business and brand; the MIA have real-world reach in motorsport and go beyond into other industries.
We are exploring a niche in motorsport; adding to driver safety and creating a culture where driver welfare is an integral part of the racing package. We know this goes hand-in-hand with winning (and winning more) but it is still a complex message to get over.
Having introductions to business leaders allows us to explain our products in our own words and demonstrate how they can benefit potential partners and customers.
Before making our decision to join the MIA, we had already spent a lot of time with them over the last year. Their dedication to bringing people together had already enabled us to build new relationships and extend our reach to new customers. We have been impressed by their professionalism, insight and accessibility and this was a key factor in our decision. Add to this the tight ties to UKTI and CBI and joining became a necessity.
To understand more about what the MIA has already done for us then read our earlier post on the Business Development Trip to the USA. For a UK company to be able to go and meet so many of the world’s top teams and influencers and to have this all packed into two weeks was invaluable. This trip was a watershed moment for yellowcog. We met with people at the top of the industry and have since been able to expand our contacts and business in the US. Many more people “over there” now know about us.
Too many groups live in an on-line vacuum; only discussing opinions amongst themselves. Conversely there are many events where people from motorsport and beyond get to meet and build business and this is the space that the MIA occupy: face-to-face introductions, worthwhile discussions, valuable relationships. Motorsport is a highly competitive sector and having the expertise of the MIA is important in competing for business.
Yellowcog has come into motorsport from the medical direction and started designing motorsport specific products some years ago. The challenges in designing for motorsport are numerous and we feel we’ve more than met those challenges. As a result, we’ve ended up with a product that can now be used by a wide range of customers almost anywhere.
2015 has been a great year for us and we’re delighted to be rounding it off with our trip the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show (PRI) from 10th to 12th December. We will have a presence at the MIA stand throughout the show and are looking forward to meeting some more of our contacts and customers in person. If you are interested in talking to us, just drop by booth 4033 or give us a call.
We have been working with Audi over the last few months on their new R8 advertising campaign. The campaign looks at the car and how it influences the mind and body. The main TV advert first aired a few weeks ago and features a close-up of an eye reflecting the street lights through a tunnel (footage was shot in Tunel de Miramar in Barcelona and the on-track scenes are from nearby Parcmotor Castellolí).
The Physiology. We put drivers and passengers through a whole series of physiological tests. They were tested in and out of the car. We measured many parameters including heart rate, breathing, g-forces, core temperature, oxygen intake, blood pressure and stress levels.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but all the physiological data that appears in the R8 campaign videos are completely genuine. For example, in one of the videos there is some in-car footage of a laptop running yellowcog software showing driver and passenger vital signs. This is all being gathered by our kit in real-time and relayed to the laptop. We were also lucky enough to be given a go in an R8 around the full Silverstone circuit, so we could record how we reacted to the Audi too (result: heart rate over 130!).
On Location. Being a technology company is exciting! But being a technology company also means that you have to carry every bit of kit you could possibly need with you. The nice thing about working with motorsport and film crews is that they are in the same situation; there’s no popping to the shops to buy replacements.
It is great working with other engineers and seeing how they solve problems from the routine to the unusual. I never knew there were so many ways to stick expensive things to other even more expensive things.
Behind-the-Scenes. I guess once you have everyone gathered on location, the film crew deployed, the R8 polished to a reflective shine then the one thing missing is to “stick him on camera”. Such is the way that Marc ended up being filmed for the Test driving the all-new Audi R8 video.
The normal way these things go is that you say everything you can think of and this is edited down to a two-second soundbite; so it was gratifying to find that this video ended up as a very clear overview of how and why yellowcog monitors drivers (and passengers).
Lights, Camera, Action! We were there for most of the shoots and it was inspiring to see the incredible attention to detail that every shot received. Most of us have watched the behind-the-scenes footage of films but I foolishly did not expect an advert to be given the same level of attention. Of course it needs all that care since it will be seen by a vast number of people many times over. I think the diligence and patience that the crews show must be something they are born with; qualities shared by all good engineers.
Most of the work we did with Audi was, because of the car, shot outside. It was great seeing and listening to the car on-track but it was the indoor shoots that were the most fun. Being up close to a car revving and popping on a rolling road was incredible. One shoot at Black Hangar Studios involved a lot of moodily lit shots. The video is well worth watching, not just for the artistry, but for the glimpse of Marc’s fingers about nine seconds in – his first proper acting role!
Yellowcog is now five years old. When I founded yellowcog I had no idea what might happen. I knew that I needed to take control of my future; I knew that I wanted to run a company but I didn’t, in hindsight, know why. I wouldn’t say that it has taken five years to realise but it also wasn’t instant.
So, why run a company? And why would I recommend it? I think that it is simple for people (politicians?) to say that we should all aspire to such a thing but I don’t agree. Not everyone enjoys having to manage innovation and accounts. I could only start yellowcog because I had got to a point where I had enough experience and I could afford the risk. It is great if a fresher has the knowledge and drive to start a company – some of the biggest today have been started like that – but I think that it is important for engineers to work within a real company delivering real products to learn how things operate. My great privilege was to leave university and go into a solid engineering environment with young and seasoned engineers alike providing the right mix of mad cap and sensible. Once you know how people are doing things then you can, if you think you know better, throw out the rules and innovate. I like innovation, I like invention; but I also like procedure and quality.
Can I call myself an “entrepreneur”? Only after it’s been spell checked. I think that it is a loaded word and it is often a synonym for “inexperienced” or “risk taker”. I strongly believe that the mantra that to be one you have to fail a few times is wrong. Every failed business has repercussions. Every business takes risks but those must be taken in the context of believing success is realisable. I suspect that many younger people have been given the impression that if you have a good idea you should go and beg a rich investor. This is the opposite of what I believe to be the case; investors are plentiful and we should have the confidence to say that we have something good or important and that we are seeking a suitable investor. A generation is growing up thinking that some Lord will sit as judge and jury on their idea – but ideas are valuable and it is always a sellers’ market.
So what’s been good? I have met and worked with amazing people. People I have respected for decades: racing drivers, mathematicians, managers, artists, doctors, designers and engineers. We have collaborated with many organisations on many innovative projects and seen solid results. Standing on the grid of the Indy500 looking up at hundreds of thousands of people was an awesome moment; then hearing that the live broadcast using our kit had aired was as good as it gets. To be on the grid working was a hundred times better than being a visitor. It is highly motivating!
So what have we got wrong? We’ve missed a lot of opportunities, sure. But we have only one unsatisfied customer on our books. We did everything we could, we delivered on time and on budget and to spec but still they were unhappy. Every approach went unanswered. It was not a great experience. It was frustrating to be trying so hard, for our good and theirs, but to be repudiated.
We live in an age where social media dominates not just our lives but also marketing strategies. We always try to let people know what we are up to but a lot of companies need to keep their projects confidential. Sometimes it’s frustrating but it makes us happy that we are doing things that are worth hiding.
So, here’s to yellowcog, to the founders, to the friends, the projects, the customers, the hardware, the software and the business of building and enjoying business.
Yellowcog is on a ten-day tour of US motorsport to meet with people and teams competing in and supplying the industry. The trip was organised by the Motorsport Industry Association and supported by the UKTI. The trip is in two parts: Charlotte, North Carolina and Indianapolis, Indiana. Charlotte is the home of NASCAR and Indianapolis is home to IndyCar.
The reason for our visit is to learn the needs of US motorsport, how it operates and, of course, to raise awareness of the importance of driver and pit crew monitoring for safety and performance. We’ve visited NASCAR, The Speedway Club, Roush Fenway Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Penske Racing, Riley Technologies, Goodridge and representatives of many other companies.
This year’s Indy 500 was exciting on many levels but this time we could see how the drivers felt too. We kitted out two drivers, James Jakes and Sage Karam, with our driver monitoring Pilot™ device. Unfortunately for Sage, he was taken out of the race right at the very beginning but James Jakes crossed the line in 18th.
The driver heart rate, breathing rate and calorie burn were collected by yellowcog Pilot™ devices which were integrated with the cars. The driver data was sent to ABC/ESPN’s outside broadcast facilities where it was used to create the on-screen graphics. There were multiple broadcasts of the information during the race, reaching an audience of over six million race fans. Yellowcog's technology is proven reliable and robust, vital in any race. It is not just the parameters shown that were collected; many other parameters were too, including g-forces, temperature and stress levels.
The Silverstone Dunlop Britcar 24 Hour had everything! It was a new experience for yellowcog to attend a full 24-Hour race and work with a team collecting data from the drivers. And when you’re there for the first time, who better to be there with than Aston Martin? The factory team are from Aston’s Special Projects outfit and work on cars like the new Vulcan.
The Aston Martin works team fielded four drivers and what a fantastic bunch they were. All the drivers did a sterling job in sometimes treacherous conditions with heavy rain in the early hours. None of the drivers had taken part in an endurance race of this sort and night time driving was completely new. The driver line-up saw Andy Palmer (Aston Martin’s CEO) joined by Marek Reichman (Aston’s chief designer), Andrew Frankel (motoring journalist) and Alice Powell (awesome racer). It was great to see them pulling together, sharing information and watching CEO Andy bringing the indefatigable Aston Martin home in fifth. A remarkably good result for the vehicle’s class. Of course, it was not all down to the drivers, it was as much the other team members’ victory. The mechanics, strategists, marketing, physios, race engineers all worked through the night. We also had a great bunch of (some new) friends dropping in to help keep us all sane. It was a good day for Aston all-round; the Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage GT4 won the race and the Speedworks Motorsport Aston came forth making a total of three Astons in the top five.
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