30 Under 30: Paul de Jersey’s acupressure mat has got your back

The CEO of Akuspike Products pivoted from a career in sports to one in business after suffering some big injuries.

Paul de Jersey of Akuspike Products

Credit: Akuspike Products CEO Paul de Jersey 

Paul de Jersey, 29

CEO, Akuspike Products

Life Story: Sometimes one career has to end for the other to begin. Growing up on the North Shore, Paul de Jersey had formative years were shaped by sports, particularly hockey. He led the BCHL in scoring while with Prince George and earned a scholarship to Providence College. It was downhill after that, at least athletically. A couple of big injuries forced de Jersey out of the game and he left Providence with some prerequisites toward a bachelor of commerce instead of an NHL contract.

While playing, he connected with strength and conditioning coach (and former Cirque du Soleil member) Sergey Nazarov. Having once tweaked his own back, Nazarov suggested de Jersey use an acupressure mat—a metal acupuncture mat that’s a rehab staple in Eastern Europe. “I immediately loved it, it helped me right away.”

Years later, after de Jersey went back to Vancouver and was working in construction and other odd jobs, he had lost the mat and was unable to find another one online. “All there was were these cheap plastic mats that don’t really do the job,” he says. He hit up Nazarov, who pointed him to a Ukrainian doctor who patented and created the mat 15 years ago.

“I said, Well, I know at least 50 of my friends and former teammates who would want to buy this thing,” recalls de Jersey. “We bought the exclusive rights in North America to sell the product. We had to rebrand it and change the design, size and the way the spikes are laid out.” De Jersey and Nazarov called it Akuspike as an homage to Eastern Europe, where all the Cs are spelled with Ks.

Bottom Line: Akuspike has eight employees and has generated seven figures in revenue since being founded in 2018. The company, which also makes balls, rollers, rings and bracelets, was also able to score a deal on Dragons’ Den, thanks in part to some of de Jersey’s old hockey buddies—like Seattle Kraken forward Brandon Tanev—showing up to endorse the product.