$11 million of fresh capital for reducing workplace injuries: Haytham Elhawary, Founder of KINETIC
Originally published November 10, 2020
In this series of founder spotlights, we’re putting the spotlight on founders who leverage software beyond the screen to build exciting startups. Each founder has their own nerdy background (we define nerdiness as having a deep obsession) and their own path to arrive at the founding moment of their startup.
Meet Haytham Elhawary, CEO/Co-founder of KINETIC, a smart hardware startup reducing workplace injuries for industrial workers. This morning, KINETIC announced their $11.25M million Series A round led by Crosslink Capital. Ubiquity Ventures is excited to be partnered with Haytham!
Can you sum up what your company does in just one sentence?
KINETIC has developed a wearable device and analytics platform for the industrial workforce that protects against COVID-19 and reduces workplace injuries.
What is the story behind how you started your company? How did you meet your co-founders?
I came to understand the impact of workplace injuries on individuals and families at an early age, as my mother worked as an elderly care nurse — a job that strained both her back and her ability to provide for her family. In 2014, I met my co-founder Aditya Bansal who was building a wearable for himself to help him to read while running on a treadmill. It would measure head motion, and move text on a tablet in exactly the same way, seemingly stabilizing it. He wanted to present at the NY Hardware Meetup, a meetup group of over 5,000 members which I founded in NYC to see if he could drum up some interest in his crowdfunding campaign. But, luckily for KINETIC, he was not successful in the campaign: it was brilliant tech for a not-so-important problem. When I approached him about using this technology to improve the lives of front line workers, he was up for the challenge.
When did you first get into the technical area of your startup? What drew you to it?
I’m a mechanical engineer, and have a PhD in Robotics. I’ve always been interested in devices and hardware, and my co-founder loves consumer products. The wearable brings together not just hardware, firmware and web apps, but also machine learning and how to study the motion of an individual in the least invasive way. The thing I’ve gotten the most into is understanding and refining the user experience, both in terms of how the workers engage with the product, and also how we can motivate and nudge them into improving their safety.
What started with getting obsessed with sensor readings and engineering has become a passion for product.
We think of nerds as people who are obsessed with something (see our blog post on the subject). What are you nerdy about or obsessed with?
I even traveled for my honeymoon to one of the few places outside of the Arctic where you can swim with penguins in the wild. I have also traveled to places that you could never go to with kids (I’ve climbed a volcano that ended up exploding a few years later, unfortunately killing several hikers — maybe that just makes me dumb). Now that I’ve had 2 kids, I’m a little less agitated about these topics, so the latest thing I nerded out about was doing triathlons.
What’s your advice to budding technical founders who haven’t yet jumped off to launch their new company?
- If you’re going to have a chance to build something big, it’s a long-term commitment — probably at least 10 years. The one skill to get you through it is the ability to learn quickly and effectively, and you should surround yourself with people who can help you speed up that learning curve.
- Don’t tie your self-worth to success in your business.
Are you a founder in the smart hardware or machine learning sector? Let’s talk! Leave a comment or get in touch with Ubiquity Ventures.
Ubiquity Ventures — led by Sunil Nagaraj — is a seed-stage venture capital firm focusing on early-stage investments in software beyond the screen, primarily smart hardware and machine intelligence applications.