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Envisioning a Sustainable Future and a Free Ukraine with Daniel Tonkopi
Episode 3924th March 2022 • Before It Happened • Donna Loughlin
00:00:00 00:42:10

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In the midst of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, Daniel Tonkopi, CEO & founder at Delfast joins the show to talk about his entrepreneurial journey from Kyiv to California. While living in Ukraine, Daniel founded Delfast, a company that holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-range e-bike in the world. In the episode, we talked about how the company grew from a small delivery service in Kyiv to one of the leading producers of e-bikes in the world. Daniel also discussed running the company from its new headquarters in Southern California while most of his employees are still in Ukraine enduring the unspeakable terrors of war and violence.

But as Daniel said, "We'll never stop. We will protect our country, we will protect our houses, and then we will build everything up again.”

Before any world-changing innovation, there was a moment, an event, a realization that sparked the idea before it happened. This is a podcast about that moment — about that idea. Before IT Happened takes you on a journey with the innovators who imagined — and are still imagining — our future. Join host Donna Loughlin as her guests tell their stories of how they brought their visions to life. 


JUMP STRAIGHT INTO:

(03:55) - Growing up in Kazakhstan - “We didn't have any access to additional resources, but I did have access to books, to my father's books, to other books about ecology and ecological problems.”

(09:25) - Daniel’s first impression of Silicon Valley - “I saw a car that could autonomously drive itself. And I understood. I realized clearly that Silicon Valley is the epicenter of all new technologies for the world.”


(13:48) - Earning the Guinness World Record - “We couldn't find any e-bikes with a big range, with good speed, with high durability. So we had to develop these bikes for ourselves. We were trying to solve our own problems.”


(20:20) - Delfast bikes today - “All the GPS tracking and history, even the temperature of the battery. It's a smartphone on two wheels.”


(23:06) - How the Russian invasion is affecting Delfast - “The main issue is our team members. They're safe now. Some of them are with a gun protecting Ukraine. Some of them are in bomb shelters. Some of them are in Kyiv. Some of them have left the country.”


(31:17) - How Daniel is working to support his team - “I go to rallies and meetings and I share pictures and videos to our team members from Ukraine. This is important to them, to see that people from another part of the world are supporting them.”


(36:17) - How Daniel hopes that Ukrainians will move forward - “I'm absolutely sure that after this war is finished, and it will be finished, we will create more innovations. We will create more Ukrainian companies with the help of the western world.”



EPISODE RESOURCES: 

Connect with Daniel Tonkopi on Linkedin 

Learn more about Delfast and follow them on Twitter

See Delfast’s Guinness World Record for the greatest distance traveled on an e-bike on a single charge

Read Insider’s The 7 best electric bikes in 2022, for city commuters, road cyclists, and mountain bikers

Read LAist’s Ukraine’s War Feels Close At A Whittier Bike Shop With Deep Ties To Kyiv



ABOUT THE MUSIC: 

Music for this episode was generously provided by Violinists Support Ukraine, a collaboration between violinists from Ukraine playing from their basements and bomb shelters along with violinists from around the world, and the Polyphony Project whose mission is to preserve the musical history of Ukrainian villages by recording, maintaining and sharing an archive of over 2000 songs.


Listen to Before IT Happened’s: Tapping into Startup Culture and Betting on the Future of Mobility with Vitaly Golomb


Thank you for listening! Follow Before IT Happened on Instagram and Twitter, and don’t forget to subscribe, rate and share the show wherever you listen to podcasts! 


Before IT Happened is produced by Donna Loughlin and StudioPod Media with additional editing and sound design by nodalab. The Executive Producer is Katie Sunku Wood and all episodes are written by Jack Buehrer.

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