What’s your story?
I was working in renewable energy – waste to energy, specifically – when it was observed that the carbon waste from the process I was promoting had some graphenic properties. At the time, I had no idea what graphene was, but after some research realized that this was no longer an energy play, but a graphene play…the energy had essentially become the byproduct.
Shortly after the lightbulb went off, Nova Graphene was formed to initiate R&D to establish uses for graphene as an additive for everything from concrete to 3D printing filament to ballistic armour.
What excites you most about your industry?
These are still early days for this revolutionary material. Graphene has been called the Holy Grail of Carbon – it makes materials it is added to stronger, lighter, and more thermally and electrically conductive. And we are at the early growth stage of the industry, so there are myriad applications left to discover and market sectors to develop.
Basically, it is still the Wild West in the graphene world!
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
I’ve never paid much attention to what other people consider “normal” – in my experience, if everyone else is doing something, I’d rather be doing something else.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
I would say relationship building. You need to be able to establish a rapport, establish trust with people, otherwise it is very challenging to make business happen.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Never let a lack of money, experience, or connections stand in your way.
Who inspires you?
Adventurous, fearless entrepreneurs.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
Over 25 million chemical-soaked wooden railway ties are replaced each year, just in North America.
We decided to work on a replacement using our graphenes and recycled plastics to create ties that aren’t toxic, and have a lifespan of 50 years instead of 15.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I want to say, stay more focused rather than bounce around as I, at times, have done. That said, perhaps it is easier to take that position after having those travels & experiences, so…
How do you unwind?
I pour a generous, ice-cold martini and enjoy it whilst I fill out questionnaires for podcasts.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
A big one in our graphene business was the realization that there was little to no market for us to sell into – the space is that new. That resulted in a conscious – and somewhat scary – decision to morph our international marketing & sales firm into a R&D operation, in order to establish applications and build demand for ourselves.
Everyone in business should read this book:
There are a few: “Postioning”, and anything from Terry O’Reilly are essential reads for marketing & advertising;
“God Is Not Great”, by Christopher Hitchens, has a strong underlying message of critical thinking and self-reliance;
And the forthcoming book “The Terminal Optimist – How I Never Learned To Not Succeed At Business” is bound to be a global bestseller, as well. I’ll let you know when I’m finished writing it!
Shameless plug for your business:
If you want to make your product better than your competitors, you should be talking to us. Whether with fire-proofing insulation foam, the world’s strongest 3D printing filament, best engine oil, lightest flexible body armor, or superior concrete, Nova Graphene helps make it better.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.