C. Lawrence Greaves is the Co-founder and CEO of OPKIX, a brand that developed the world’s smallest wearable video cameras to help you capture life’s most fun moments without having to do it through the screen of your phone. Lawrence is a successful entrepreneur who built and sold companies. He is also a real gentleman who highly values people and relationships. In our conversation, Lawrence tells us more about OPKIX and the movement behind the brand, and how he wants to use his experience to help people and give back. As a family man, Lawrence shares how he loves to spend quality time and travel with his wife and their two children. Good manners as its best!
C. Lawrence Greaves: I’m the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of OPKIX. I was born in England and was raised for the first 11 years of my life in a tiny village with 600 people by an English dad and a South African mother. In 1994, we moved out to South Africa. My mom had left the country as part of a protest against Apartheid in the ’70s. She vowed that she wouldn’t go back until it was a new South Africa.
We actually moved out there after Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the new South Africa was born. We spent five years there where I went to school, played rugby and, made a great new group of friends. I returned to the UK to start my education at the University of Westminster, which I didn’t complete. Shame on me. Later, I actually ended up moving to America in 2005 after meeting my girlfriend in London, who’s from Orange County, California.
At the time I think I was so anxious to start building companies, do things on my own, and start making a name for myself. I grew up in a very entrepreneurial household where neither of my parents had finished a university education either. And we had a very fortunate upbringing.
Fortunately, it has also worked out very well in my case. However, I can’t recommend that anyone else follows that path. I’d say that if you have the means or resources to go through formal education and stick it out, it’s always a great thing to fall back on.
I’ve got quotes for a whole host of different things or different topics. My favorite quote is “Never, ever, ever give up.” If you’re an entrepreneur or want to be one, you can’t give up. Because everything is stacked against you. The process of innovation, launching, growing, sustaining. These things are very challenging on their own. Then you put them all together as the journey of an entrepreneur and it becomes compounded complications every time that you add a new level on top of it.
One of my dearest friends and an incredibly successful entrepreneur, Kip Cyprus is the one that reminded me of that quote. Of course, Winston Churchill is also someone who was fond of saying that and he’s definitely one of the people that I look up to in some aspects.
That’s a challenge but if I could spend one day with any person, it would be Nelson Mandela. I would ask him how he was able to never give up. Because he was undeservingly incarcerated for many years and was able to come out with nothing but love in his heart and rebuild a nation.
That seems like the type of challenge that could never have been overcome and I think it became a blueprint for so many other people that want to focus on equality. And for me, at least, I truly believe that’s something that would make this world a better place. If if I could meet with him, it would be reminding myself that what I think are big challenges pale into insignificance compared to what he had to go through.
I joined the company as one of the first investors. It was a couple of guys with a great idea. And they both have amazing backgrounds connected with every celebrity you can imagine. They’ve lived incredible lives. One of them was a professional athlete in the action sports arena. The other guy had a background planning some of the most fantastic parties on the planet, including Playboy and Hugh Hefner. And they had this idea of being able to put our phones down but be able to still record and capture the moments that we live in.
At the time, I had sold my company and I’d spent many years growing that. I wanted to sit back and enjoy the fruits of that labor. Besides, I had promised my wife that we wouldn’t dive with both feet into something new unless we found a project that had the upside potential and ability to disrupt and change the culture like BEATS BY DRE, the headphone company that I was involved with as a consultant during its growth period and sale to APPLE.
Of course, within a few weeks of saying this, I had asked not only to invest but recommended that I take over as the CEO of the business for my background and experience in building and selling companies. The two founders of the business at the time offered me the Co-Founder and CEO position and we’ve been doing it since then.
What OPKIX is at its core is an ecosystem that consists of hardware. We designed the world’s smallest wearable video cameras to really capture life’s most fun moments without having to do it through the screen of your phone.
It is also a range of wearable accessories. Whether it’s eyewear, baseball hats, necklaces, rings, selfie sticks, all of which are thoughtfully designed and our cameras can mount on small and discrete fashions. In addition, we developed a video editing software, so people can make these really fun posts and share online.
We just acquired one of our competitors, which has been a big step forward for this business. At OPKIX, we are really enjoying our international expansion in different regions around the world, including the Nordics, Europe, Japan, and Australia. It’s a very bright future ahead for all of us.
On a personal note, I’d like to think that my best quality is being a dad. Professionally, I think my best quality is being relentless. Surrounding myself with brilliant people has been one of the safest and smartest moves that I’ve ever made professionally.
Here at OPKIX, we are no different from that. Our board of directors and investors are some of the most well-known and brilliant people in music, movies, and sports.
We’ve got artists like Swae Lee, who did the incredible song Sunflower invest in the business. I am not just proud that he is an investor in the company, but proud to say that I know him. He is such a successful and decent young man.
Actor Steve Howey from the TV show Shameless who is one of the kindest, smartest, and most brilliant guys that I’ve been around. In fact, he would be an amazing story for Good Manners. NFL legend LeGarrette Blount, who has three Super Bowl rings to his name. He is a great dad, a great man, and a great leader and Mick Fanning out in Australia, who’s world champion surfer.
We’re just surrounded by great people and what I think is the best part about all of it is they all believe in the movement.
The movement is not saying that we don’t believe in smartphones. We will always use them and we love them. This is just a new way to capture life’s great moments and be really present in the moment. When you’re wearing a product, you’re not thinking about recording. You’re not staring through the screen and detaching yourself from the moment you’re staying present in it. Look at the landscape the last 10 years, it’s been absolutely blanket covered with action sports cameras, really large, bulky, cumbersome hardware.
We wanted to make something thoughtful, innovative, exceptional design quality and to integrate into people’s lifestyle. And that’s what OPKIX is at its core, a memory creator.
Having good manners is essential to my life, to not only the way that I was raised but also to the way that I teach our children. This is a period in human history where manners are more needed than ever before. Manners can be simple things like pleases, and thank-yous, opening, and closing doors. For me at least, I was raised to be a gentleman and I plan on holding myself and my son to that standard, teaching my daughter to be a lady. But I really think good manners are a broader topic nowadays. I think having good manners is understanding and having a high degree of empathy for our fellow man.
And I think that if more and more people can use the notion of good manners with how we choose to engage or interact with people. This is going to be a whole new, beautiful world that we can create together. This is the one takeaway that I’ve had coming out of the back end of the pandemic and watching the changing tone of the general public. And this is the best time ever to apply, use, and be aware. Good manners are the central theme for that.
My definition of success is my children looking up to me for anything other than my business success, looking up to me because I’m a great dad. I can’t allow financial gain to define my success. What I can tell you is if we continue to be successful professionally, I will define my success by my legacy, which will be doing as much as I possibly can to help other people. Again, whether that’s advocacy, whether it’s mentorship, but more importantly than anything, that’s being able to amass a strong enough financial position that we can use the rest of our lives to give that away, to help rebuild, to help those who deserve it the most and may not have had that opportunity.
What I miss the most from England is my mom! What I also miss is the English sensibility. There is a very dry sense of humor from England that I grew up with, loving, enjoying and I miss that. I do miss simple things like going to a pub in London on a spring day and watching Chelsea win. You can’t replicate that anywhere else on Earth.
What I miss about South Africa is the fact that everyone that I ever met in South Africa was some of the most fun, loving, gregarious people, and I have never seen a barbecue or a party like I’ve seen done in South Africa. They know how to have the best time ever. And it truly is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, especially when you drive into Cape Town.
What I love most about America is the American dream. And I don’t think it’s dead. I think it’s going to have a rebirth here. And I feel like this country is willing to give an opportunity to anyone. Myself, a first-generation immigrant with no college degree, was able to come here and work hard, pay taxes and build companies, innovate and now hire thousands of people here in the US and build out a workforce.
This feels like one of the few countries on Earth where you’re truly encouraged to do that. And I’m very hopeful for the future of this nation. You know, more than just for business and innovation, but just an opportunity to have a real awakening. It’s going to be a really fun story ahead if we can all pull together. That’s how I feel about America and if I can help to give that opportunity to others, I’m going to do it.
My favorite destinations are kind of hard to nail down. My family and I have been fortunate to travel over the world. I have been to 70+ countries now, so it’s difficult for me to single out any particular area. Last year on business, we visited Japan. My wife has some Japanese heritage on her side of the family. That was a great trip for our family to be able to go and experience a different culture.
Put me anywhere with a beach and a cocktail in my hand. The sun on my skin and let me watch my kids play in front of us. And I can be anywhere on the planet as long as my family is there, I’m happy.
All I’ve ever wanted is for them to be proud of me as a dad for anything other than what I do in business. What I want to be remembered for is teaching my kids ethics, giving them the ability to think for themselves, to be good people, to really add value to this planet. You know, two incredible souls that you put out there that are well equipped to deal with complex situations. That’s a gift to the world. What I hope that my kids think of me and remember me for is anything other than what I’ve done in business.
I’m not saying I don’t want them to be proud of me professionally, but I want them to think of me as Dad, the guy who tickles them all the time. The guy who becomes Dada Horse at night times when they jump on my back and I race around the house with them, is all laughing together. The memory makers are what matters to me, the simple things.
Being someone that they love and look up to would be a great honor.
I don’t eat breakfast, which I’m sure will bother a lot of people. My mum’s told me for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I typically spring out of bed. I have a high degree of energy when I get out of bed first thing in the morning.
It always starts with a shower and I normally brush my teeth twice. I don’t know why, but I really believe a smile is a good key to success. Normally I thought through what I wanted to wear the night before. You know, whether it’s a big day or just a casual day at the office, I grab my cup of coffee, I go and kiss both my kids, my wife and I race to the office.
And on the drive-in, I’m either listening to an audiobook or making phone calls early in the morning. It’s great to see who’s up with you and making it happen. I also love being the first one here at the office when I get the opportunity because we’ve got some guys on the team that will get here at 5:00 in the morning pretty routinely. [smiles]
The people because what inspires me the most is innovating with the team and actually sitting down and designing the product, writing the underlying aspect of the intellectual property, and getting those products to market. That’s an incredible feeling, but it’s only possible with the team. We continue to build out the team of people and we’re hiring right now as well, which is great considering that the place that the world is finding itself in.
I’ve always been about people and I believe that any good company is always the sum total of every single head. At OPKIX, we are blessed because we already have an incredible team and that’s only going to continue to grow that way.
My family. If I’m not at work, I am with my family. My hobbies are anything that is active and fun with my kids. We love going to Catalina Island, it feels like it’s a step back in time. Most of my friends are guys who love cars and I am a huge fan of cars as well. And if you can call it a hobby, I’m a collector of fine wines from all over the world.
I don’t know if I would call it advice, but I’d say the biggest opportunity that I’ve ever had in my life was being able to move to America and first and foremost, my wife of almost 14 years. She was the one that advised me to move to America. And she always told me “Whatever it is that you do because of how hard you work and how relentless you are. This is a country that’s going to give you many gifts back.”
This advice has changed my life in many ways. I am married to an American lady, raising American kids, paying American taxes, and innovating on behalf of the USA.
From a business standpoint. The best advice I’ve got is also the same as the quote that I gave you, Just never give up. I’ve had to apply that advice numerous times throughout the day. Every day. And I’ve been here for 16 years.
The world is our oyster. We have some pretty incredible things that we’re working on as a team. And I will tell you that the next nine months, there’s going to be some pretty groundbreaking things happening that come out of this camp. And I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I would invite people to become part of the story, to engage with us and follow. This is going to be one of the brands that not only get products and tools for people to live a better life but a brand that uses its growth to help others as well.
We recently entered a pretty exciting initiative here to partner up with Tillys Life Centre, a very well-known charitable organization that focuses on training, education, and support of mental health and children. We are going to be donating a portion of our sales to that business on an ongoing basis.
It’s not just about growing as an organization, but it’s also growing our minds and our hearts.
I think Good Manners is not just about having good manners, but it’s also about people that are doing something to change the narrative, to support and grow, and to give others inspiration. And for those reasons, I’m going to recommend my friend Jason Wahler. What he’s doing right now to advocate for mental health and for families impacted by addiction. He’s a very well-known public figure.
He had an incredible rise and then very public reckoning with his past abuse of drugs and alcohol. And now he’s a sober advocate and he uses his platform for nothing other than supporting others that are going through trying times and don’t know how to find the resources to do so. recommend, Jason, you’re going to have an amazing time meeting with him. And I can’t wait for the world to see his story.
If you enjoyed the story behind OPKIX, our editor recommends: Meet Dr. Jason Wersland, Founder of Theragun [/mepr-show]
Wow, great interview and great product