Tamara Ivancova is the founder of Amara Automotive, a mobility startup developing sustainable vehicles. Its first vehicle is a four-wheeled electric bike.
Before Amara Automotive, Ivancova was the aerodynamic development intern with the Scuderia AlphaTauri F1 Team. The mobility startup was established last year and is currently a team of 3 based at the University of Southampton.
Amara Automotive’s Elecy is a 45kg electric bike with a range of over 60km and is designed to be used within a cycle lane.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Ivancova discusses leaving a “childhood dream role” in F1 to pursue her own company.
1. Which company’s growth story are you most impressed with?
Tamara Ivancova: I am most impressed by Tesla’s growth story and how they’ve managed to revolutionise the entire automotive industry since its creation in 2008.
Fundamentally, they have been pioneers in making electric cars that appeal to the general consumer and have developed a supply chain that has been capable of scaling up to produce thousands of vehicles annually.
Tesla was the first to make electric cars profitable for automotive manufacturers, opening the market for new and profitable innovative vehicular technologies.
2. What’s the best way to promote diversity in the workplace?
TI: The key to promoting diversity in the workplace is by making it a nonnegotiable priority from the start, which ultimately begins when the first job application is posted.
Most companies do not have explicit biases but often produce promotional material that unknowingly contains biases – for example when job applications refer to only one gender within the description of the role.
What I have learned and found to be effective is to make sure that we clearly state our commitment to diversity when drafting the application for the role – especially by backing this up with real-life examples.
For example, we worked with the Women in Engineering Society at The University of Southampton to provide work experience and 1 to 1 sessions where students could apply their knowledge to real-world projects.
Not only does this create an equal and welcoming environment from the start, but it also helps ensure that the company culture reflects this as your team grows.
In interviews, applicants tend to state that Amara Automotive’s commitment to diversity is one of the reasons they apply!
3. What’s a fact about yourself that people might find surprising?
TI: My first ever work experience was in Formula 1 at the age of 15. I used to love motorsport, Formula 1 in particular, so I pursued a career in it with the goal of becoming the Team Principal of a team one day.
However, just three months after starting a full-time job in F1 in the Aerodynamics department, I was completely put off – almost like I had an allergic reaction to it.
I realised that I needed my work to have a purpose of creating a wider positive impact, rather than making a car go a few thousandths of a second faster around a racetrack. So, I left my childhood dream role to start my own company.
4. Which hyped-up technology do you think is doomed to fail?
TI: In my view, autonomous (self-driving) cars are doomed to fail. While they are very interesting as a research or development project, I can’t see how they can be integrated safely into the existing automotive infrastructure any time soon. Autonomous vehicles are also difficult for the average consumer to understand and I can’t see any serious upsides.
5. What’s the most misunderstood technology?
TI: Perhaps the most misunderstood common technology is electric vehicles.
They are marketed as ‘zero emission’ and most of them even have badges on the cars that say this, however, this is not technically true. During use, electric cars are only around 50% less emissive compared to combustion cars, and during production, they produce approximately 46% more emissions than the average car (largely due to battery production).
The current strategy and media narrative about reaching ‘net zero’ within transport is via the mass adoption of electric cars, but given the facts, this is simply unsustainable.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.