‘I broke 22 bones and lost a year’s memory’


The BBC’s weekly The particular Boss collection profiles various business market leaders from all over the world. This week we all speak to serial Dutch business owner Kees Koolen, whose newest company can be battery producer Lithium Werks.

After Kees Koolen great motorbike somersaulted down the rocky hillside in Traditional western Sahara within 2006, the neighborhood ambulance team said there is nothing they can do in order to save his lifetime.

“They stated I would perish for sure, inch says Mister Koolen, searching back in the crash. “So they did not want to do something. ”

During the time the Nederlander businessman had been 41, together taken period off from their job because chief working officer on travel company Booking. possuindo to contend in a long motorcycle competition in northern Africa.

This individual was approaching the end of the day’s traveling when, ruling a car plus another motorcycle, he did not notice the sharpened drop aside of the street.

Plunging straight down, he shattered 22 your bones, and experienced serious mind trauma right after his headgear cracked open up.

Thankfully designed for Mr Koolen, he had several friends along with him, plus they forced the particular ambulance team to a minimum of try to conserve his lifetime. “My close friends got into a huge fight with the particular ambulance males, ” he admits that.

Mr Koolen was eventually flown returning to the Netherlands simply by private aircraft for crisis surgery, as well as a very slower recovery.

“Not only experienced I damaged 22 bone fragments, but We lost our memory, inch says the particular 53-year-old. “I still have a tendency remember anything at all from the the coming year of my entire life. ”

Within hospital with regard to six months adopting the crash, Mister Koolen had been eventually capable to walk once again and go back to Booking. possuindo.

One of the carrier’s earliest traders, he continued to be the chief executive through 2008 in order to 2011.

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After that from this year he suggested another corporation he had committed to – ALL OF US taxi-hailing company Uber : on the global rollout, while furthermore looking after their investments within scores of various other tech companies.

And while many of us would never have got gone motorbike racing once again after a accident like he previously, Mr Koolen decided to in the ante and begin competing in the bike within the annual Dakar Rally, which may be as long as nine, 000km (6, 000 miles) and mainly on unpaved roads.

“When I’m functioning, I do 20-hour days every single day, ” he admits that. “I still cannot stop, therefore taking 3 weeks away from every year in order to compete within the Dakar makes me to change off from function.

“And i quickly always associated with best company decisions once i return to function because I am fresh. inch

Today Mister Koolen’s primary focus is certainly his lithium-ion battery company Lithium Werks, which is located in the city associated with Hengelo, within the eastern Holland.

Although the business was set up only in the beginning of this yr, after this bought current US company Valence plus fellow Nederlander business Extremely B, Li (symbol) Werks currently has 2 factories ready to go in Tiongkok, and one more on the way.

The particular rechargeable electric batteries are targeted at both electric powered vehicles — everything from cabs, to boats, forklift vehicles and lorries – as well as for power storage space at -panel installations plus wind facilities.

With worldwide demand pertaining to such electric batteries predicted to develop by as much as sixteen times present levels simply by 2030, because the world transforms away from burning up fossil fuels, Mister Koolen desires Lithium Werks to be one of the greatest suppliers.

“Turnover this year is going to be $80m (£63m), and I forecast close to $1bn next year, after which growing more from there, inch he says. “Demand for electric batteries is going to be large going forward. inch

Born plus raised on the small dairy products farm within the south associated with Netherlands, near the Belgian boundary, Mr Koolen says he or she didn’t keep his town until this individual was eleven.

“I furthermore never talked Dutch till I visited secondary college and had to understand it, inch he says. Till then he acquired only voiced the Brabantian dialect.

Right after finishing college Mr Koolen studied mechanised engineering in a university within the city of Eindhoven. It was surrounding this time which he started to contend in Ironman triathlons : a second . 4-mile (3. 9km) go swimming, followed by the 112-mile (180km) bike trip, and then managing a marathon.

Nevertheless , after their knee had been injured inside a car accident if a drunk drivers ploughed straight into his vehicle, he turned to electric motor sports.

Mister Koolen after that studied to have an MBA (master of company administration qualification), before starting an effective career like a consultant, guidance a host of businesses that he furthermore started to purchase. One of these has been Booking. possuindo, which was created in the Holland in 1997, and this past year had income of $12. 7bn.

Mister Koolen’s assets over the years make him the multimillionaire, using a Dutch paper estimating within 2013 which he had a private fortune associated with €115m ($130m; £101m).

Yet he is directly to be therefore bullish regarding Lithium Werks and the worldwide demand with regard to lithium-ion electric batteries?

“Lithium-ion electric batteries are unquestionably key in the particular move not merely to electrical vehicles, but additionally allow all of us to realize the full possible of photo voltaic and breeze power via cheap and simple energy storage space, ” states Richard Anderson, spokesman to get technology believe tank RethinkX.

“So there is question need for these electric batteries will skyrocket, but obviously that doesn’t imply that everyone making lithium-ion electric batteries will be productive.

“This is going to be an incredibly competing marketplace in which a number of large, well-established businesses such as Tesla and Panasonic already function. ”

Regardless of how busy Mister Koolen is by using Lithium Werks his passion for contending in engine sport move events is certainly undimmed.

He’s now moved into the Dakar Rally 9 times, and it is the only individual to have finished the competition in all 4 main classes – motorbike, quad bicycle, car plus truck.

The chance of injury isn’t going to bother your pet, he says, actually remembering time in 2013 when this individual broke their back whilst training in the quad bicycle.

“I involved to go over the jump as well as the throttle obtained stuck, inch he says. “I fell through the bike plus broke 4 vertebrae.

“I believe in destiny though. Everybody dies launched their period. ”

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