🎙 Introducing Xavier Pillet, founder of Naca Helmet, who designed and manufactures Gravity riding helmets for the safety and comfort of riders of all abilities.
👉 With a passion for mechanics and always on the lookout for the innovation that will make a difference, he has become a benchmark in the use of composite materials.
Your entrepreneurial adventure is primarily a constant search for innovation in all its forms.
... And always connected to my passions. I started my first company at the age of 22, much to the disappointment of my parents who wanted me to continue studying after my preparatory classes. PMshape, and then Fin's International after that, were created to advance equipment in windsurfing, especially fins that require very high mechanical properties. That's when I started getting interested in composite materials, molding techniques, and modeling. Later on, I diversified into foils, underwater drones, bike soles, snowboard bindings... the applications are endless. I even built a 13-meter carbon boat! My true trademark remains the helmet, for various activities such as cycling, motorcycling, skiing, or aerospace.
And since 2020, equestrian helmets. What's the secret behind their production?
We ventured into this niche after the licensing agreement we had with a player in the industry came to an end. We had the recipe; we just needed to learn how to produce and sell it under our own brand. We utilized our expertise in the honeycomb structure, which provides weight savings, improved user comfort, and unparalleled shock absorption capabilities. And then, we tried to revitalize the product through customization, helmet ventilation, interchangeable magnetic visors, and even a carbon chin strap that has been patented. That's how the Naca brand was born. In our factory in Signes (Editor's note: Var), we have full control over the manufacturing process: design office, prototyping, aluminum mold fabrication, production of parts, and assembly in the workshop. Certification took us two years, but it was worth it!
Why this partnership with Ekkia?
Being positioned in the high-end market, we needed to find a way to boost our reputation and gain a sales network that would enhance our production. In just one year, Ekkia has done a remarkable job. And it's also a matter of meeting the right people. In this case, Pascal Gautherin was, I believe, impressed by our expertise and our French production. We have already sold nearly 5,000 Naca helmets, something we couldn't have achieved on our own. And it allows us to focus on where our true added value lies: innovation. We are already envisioning the helmet of the future, with new additive manufacturing techniques and new material blends. Needless to say, I've never felt like I was working. When I imagine products for motorcycles, cars, boats, I always consider myself a child. They are just toys for grown-ups.
The human or relational quality you prefer and what you dislike?
I have great respect for people who keep their word and have honor. When I separated from my Thai partner after five years of collaboration, he granted me my freedom and our company with a handshake. I would have done the same. What I dislike? Primarily violence and injustice. They are clear signs of unintelligence.
I'll propose two: "Every pain has its comfort" and "Blessed are the simple-minded."
Ekkia in one word?