Nothing is more painful than crashing into the ground at high speed as a cyclist. As a competitive road cyclist, Jarrid Janssens (26) is quite familiar with that situation. He was looking for a solution to prevent cyclists from having deep abrasions during a crash. While studying to be a civil engineer at UAntwerp, he devised the Velusta Protection Patch with good friend Luka Šeparović (26) who’s currently studying the same master programme. The students received several awards, including the 2018 Vlajo award for ‘Small Business Project of the Year’.
From patch to trousers
‘Back then, it was just a stick-on patch’, Janssens explains. ‘That allowed us to visualise it. It was a temporary solution because we couldn’t make trousers from day one.’ In the meantime, the patch has evolved into innovative cycling trousers that are now quietly conquering the market. ‘I always played football and was not an avid cyclist’, Šeparović says. ‘But I was itching to start a business of my own. That’s why I wanted to a part of this story.’
The patch went through several stages of development. In fact, the duo had absolutely no knowledge of textiles and sought help from experts. ‘We explained what we needed: a breathable patch that was also be flexible and friction-resistant. This also required an extra layer to absorb the biggest impact of a crash. When a cyclist loses control, the wounds on the hips are usually the most serious because that is where the body’s centre of gravity is.’
Integrating everything into one piece of fabric was not a realistic goal. ‘So we had to start working with three layers: the first layer is closest to the skin and feels very comfortable; the second layer reduces impact of the crash; and the third layer is friction-resistant. If we didn’t include that last layer, the impact layer would sand off right away. After much testing, we arrived at today’s product.’
If it catches on with the general public, it will undoubtedly create a revolution in the world of cycling.
Creating brand awareness
Now that the products are ready, we need to create brand awareness. ‘The name Velusta consists of different syllables of our names put next to each other: the “lu” comes from Luka and the “a” from Jarrid. Coincidentally, you can also recognise velo in it’, Šeparović laughs. ‘A very late delivery due to the corona pandemic made use made us completely miss our start-up date. So back then we could not make a profit, but that is also because we made large investments. As such, we are now focusing on retailers and projects. These bring in more money and also work more efficiently than B2C. After all, convincing every customer online requires a lot of effort.’ The two friends have quite a few plans for the future. ‘We need to focus on sales now before we can focus on expanding and optimising the collection’, Šeparović says. ‘If it catches on with the general public, it will undoubtedly create a revolution in the world of cycling.’