When opportunity meets resilience

The story behind Sequoia Speed, Venezuela's first Motorcycle Riding Gear Company

3 JULY 2016,
Fully equipped motorcyclist
Fully equipped motorcyclist

Venezuela is going through one of the toughest times in all of its republican history and that is something impossible to hide. But while many dedicate themselves to expose the bad – which is a lot, by the way – others thrive to show the good side of it, which is also significant. And this is because the Venezuelan is such a peculiar individual, who not only laughs at his own demises while others are at the edge of despair, but also manages to adapt against all odds to any problem that life presents, successfully overcoming and turning them into funny anecdotes for friends and family.

Ronald Infante is one of those resilient Venezuelans. An entrepreneur and motivator that built using his cunning ability and constancy what is now a worldwide recognized business. He, just like hundreds of successful entrepreneurs managed to hit the spot with the perfect formula [Product + Necessity = Opportunity] by creating a brand that quickly covered one of the most passionate but less attended segments by national small industries: Motorcycle Adventuring.

Thanks to what many could catalogue as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Ronald developed a business plan that allowed him to consolidate Sequoia Speed, a Venezuelan company dedicated to designing, producing and exporting protective motorcycle riding gear – at first for adventurers and outdoor/extreme biker sports enthusiasts, but now extended to every branch of this exciting activity. What started with the first pair of gloves has become a small enterprise with an impressive line of products that go from Kevlar-Protected motorcycle jackets, gloves, pants and boots designed especially for keeping the rider safe from all kinds of hazards and environmental conditions he or she might face in the open road.

“At the beginning it was very hard for me. The situation that my country was facing made the start really tough. There were so many obstacles that I had to overcome, but without fear of being wrong I can tell you that those were the same that motivated me to keep fighting until the objective was reached: the launch of Sequoia Speed. And once we managed to make this company run, the market simply opened its doors in an astonishing way”, tells us the 31 year-old entrepreneur, who at the time of the interview was in conversations with his new partners in Spain and Saudi Arabia to continue the brand´s expansion process, after being consolidated in Colombia and the United States.

Opportunity lies only when a few can see it

The word Crisis has a peculiarity both in Japanese as in Chinese. It is composed of the characters “Danger” (危 - Kanji) and “Opportunity” (機 - Kanji). Despite being pronounced differently – Kiki in Japan, Wéiji in China – the Asian idiosyncrasy sees this situation as a mixture of two kinds of events, where if one risks enough (skillfully) there is a chance of grasping the opportunity hidden inside of it.

Many Venezuelan entrepreneurs mention this particular analogy among their motivation sources, amidst a truly unpredictable economic system that sometimes vows to the destruction of large and medium industries. But as big markets are consumed in the middle of debacles, the smaller ones start to grow and become like the first ones, in time. They become the dominant ones.

Ronald considers himself a resilient person. He, like his partners and close friends, have never let the crisis subdue them: “We believe in our country. We have found a way of being productive, ahead of what is going on; and as long as that can be done, we will continue to inject every liter of passion that we feel for what we do.”

His entry into the European market triggers an emotional rush for him, because he believes that the quality of Sequoia´s workmanship and their innovative design – plus a relatively low cost compared to the international competition´s. In the United States, for example, the market is extremely demanding with the materials and final quality of the products. He has not have any issues with this, since he personally supervises the fabrication of basic parts and garment structure – which is built overseas with original designs from Sequoia Speed – and the final assembly, conducted in Venezuela where logos, embroidery, padding, lining and Kevlar are attached to the final piece before launching them into the market.

“Resilience is the capacity of humans to overcome periods of extreme emotional pain and adverse situations”

While it is true that during 2016's second quarter Venezuelan economy has been catalogued as the worst in the western hemisphere, Ronald has managed to look beyond the local market's limitations by exporting his products way before the economic bubble exploded. Now, amidst all of this, Ronald employs ten people, has online presence – website and social media in both English and Spanish – and sponsors national and international events that unite every Latin American and Caribbean biker.

One of those events featured Ricardo Damián Lorenz, better known as “Yago Por América” (Yago By America), an adventurer of Argentinean origin that has travelled 18 countries of the American continent on a small Honda bike, and whose protective gear has been custom made by Sequoia Speed, giving him all possible support along his incredible journey. An article about him will be ready in the next few weeks.