Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Mike Pullen- CEO & Co founder
Mat Quon- COO & Co founder
To be honest neither Mat nor myself ever thought in a million years that we would have created our own sports/textile/innovation business. To give you a little bit of background on how we got started. I used to be a football wide receiver back in high school. I wanted a way to protect my arms from turf burn and scrapes, but not sacrifice my grip on the football. It turns out that all the compression sleeves on the market are very slick when in contact with the ball and this can promote fumbling, so skill position players don’t wear them. In the back of my mind I wanted a sleeve that could help protect my arms and ensure my grip on the ball wasn’t diminished.
A few years later, I began my courses at GT (Georgia Institute of Technology); I took a class titled “Material science and Engineering of Sports,” taught by my now business partner Dr. Jud Ready. We could explore any sports innovation in this classas long as it was novel. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to continue this arm sleeve concept. Mat and I got a good grade, and we planned to end there, but Dr. Ready encouraged us to pursue Create-X, a start-up incubator at Georgia Tech. During this time, we realized that our sleeve had uses beyond football, such as for package delivery drivers, construction workers, and other physical jobs. This concept is also not limited to a sleeve. Currently, companies are working with us to integrate the LZRD fabric into their existing uniform shirts, jackets, vests, pants, etc.
It has been surreal to see our business grow from this concept to a first-of-its-kind product and product category. We currently work with some of the largest global brands in athletics and workwear. Neil Degrasse Tyson has even featured us on his podcast StarTalk. Just in the last year, we received NCAA approval and the first direct institutional investment in the history of Georgia Tech. We are excited to see what the future holds for us with all of this rapid growth.
Can you share the most exciting story that happened to you since you started doing this?
A personal highlight/most exciting story for me was featured on Neil Degrasse Tyson’s podcast StarTalk. This particular episode was focused on sports innovation. Neil and the team spoke for over 15 minutes about the LZRD sleeve, the story, its application in sports, and the future for the market. Neil has been someone I have been watching for years and years on his numerous TV shows and social media platforms. To have him do a deep dive on our product that was once a crazy college idea brings it full circle.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not “burn out”?
Being passionate about what you are doing is a big part of how we’ve avoided “burnout.” As athletes ourselves, we invented what we wished was available when we played. Hearing how many players and other customers love using what we created gives us a lot of satisfaction and drive to keep churning. We see the value in this product, and that makes it all the more exciting to see when customers have the same interest in the LZRD sleeves that inspired us to create our product in the first place.
Another big part has been creating a fantastic team of great mentors and partners. Surrounding ourselves with more experienced entrepreneurs, engineers, and athletes who are also enthusiastic about the product and its success has fueled our drive to keep going.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Many people have helped us along the way, and to whom we are incredibly grateful. However, they all stem back to mentors introduced to us through the GT Create-X program, such as Rahul Saxena, Greg Mihalik, Doug Alvine, and all of our family and friends. They have supported us both emotionally and financially along the way.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The most significant impact that we have had so far has been mentoring and encouraging other students who would like to become wanteurs and don’t necessarily know where to start. I try to explain to students that very much like them; I never envisioned myself as an entrepreneur. I just had an idea and am following it as far as it will take me. We did not start this process knowing how to negotiate, write patents, establish corporate structure, etc. So I emphasize that you don’t have to see what you are doing initially and not get overwhelmed. Even if your ideas don’t pan out, the experience you gain is something very few people will have, and it will pay dividends in the eyes of a future employer.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I did not know what LZRD would become when I started this adventure, but I knew I would be kicking myself for the rest of my life if I didn’t try.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@LZRDTech on Instagram/Facebook/ LinkedIn
Anything specific you’d like to have mentioned in the article?
No, not particularly. Whatever you think is best.