Shield with UmboDO YOU SEE THAT BUMP in the middle of the shield?

That’s an Umbo.  It’s used to deflect swords and better defend the soldier.

So it’s interesting that a new company designing a better bike headgear has chosen to call it an Umbo Helmet.

This is a group with a mission, for sure.

I had the chance last week to talk with Bethany Williams, who co-founded this venture founded last year with Nate Saam and Clint Bickmore.  Their passion is to dramatically reduce the risk and damage of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in bicycle accidents.

Helmet Revision_FinalStarting with some new technology, the team has developed a new bicycle helmet which is remarkably safer than even most professional helmets on the market.  It’s being highlighted this week as part of CSU’s Blue Ocean Challenge.  First products will arrive in the next few months, and they’ll be making a big splash in the mountain biker market.

Each of the three team members has their own story about TBI – as a result of their own accidents, or family members, or friends.  It can be devastating and even fatal.  And the protection provided by current helmet technology is helpful but not nearly as good as it could be.

ChangeComposites 3 founders

Bethany Williams, Nate Saam, Clint Bickmore

This team aims to set a whole new standard for the industry.

With millions of helmets sold per year, mountain and commuter cyclists provide a huge market opportunity for advanced head protection.  Umbo wants to start with the high end of the market, but not because they aspire to huge riches.  The logic actually works like this:

  • Higher end cyclists spend more on their equipment, so a high end helmet isn’t a difficult decision for them.
  • Those people also recognize the risks they’re taking with injuries, and are serious about protection.
  • We won’t change the world unless we’re able to make a sustainable company, so we’d better make some money that we can plow back into R&D to improve the product.
  • Over time, we’ll make an even safer helmet, expand our product line, and be able to serve even more people.
  • We’ll forever change the standard for this industry!

That’s pretty audacious, but sound logic.

I first saw Nate’s presentation a couple of weeks ago in front of New Tech.  As you’d expect with this kind of audience, there’s lots of creative ideas about expanding into NFL helmets and such – where there’s lots of money.

Umbo_logoBut Umbo is, for the moment, tightly focused on the opportunity for cycling helmets.  They know and love the cycling industry, with over 50 years of direct experience between them.  Those other opportunities may come, but aren’t distracting the team right now.

What are the major challenges right now?  Well, clearly it’s the initial market push.  Completing the supplier contractors.  Ramping up production.  And making a big, big splash in the market.  That’s plenty enough for the next few months!

Expect amazing achievements from this group.  I’m publishing this article off my normal schedule because I wanted to give some additional visibility for their Blue Ocean Challenge push this week, and I hope to have great news to announce afterwards!