The Build Cycle Podcast #016 – Pure Cycles’ Michael Fishman

If you want to launch a consumer product brand in this day and age, there’s someone somewhere that’ll make it for you. Probably in China. No matter what your product idea is, you likely have thousands of pages of catalogs to pull from, mixing and matching the parts, designs and features you want to get a complete, ready to use product. And it’s insane how cheap you can get finished goods for, letting you focus on building a brand and fine tuning your customer service before investing in a proprietary product. Here’s how Pure Cycles’ Michael Fishman came together with two college buddies and launched a bike brand over their holiday break!

DISCUSSION TIMELINE

  • 01:45 – Where the name came from.
  • 03:25 – Their origin story, launched while they were in college.
  • 12:25 – Bringing the first shipment in, and selling them out in two weeks.
  • 13:20 – Going from catalog offerings to creating their own unique bike.
  • 15:10 – Bringing on their first employees.
  • 17:00 – Where the startup and growth capital came from.
  • 20:20 – How they got the word out, and building the brand in shops.
  • 26:20 – How they use content marketing and social media.
  • 33:30 – Hitting the ground with outside reps and brand advocates.
  • 37:40 – Launching a new model on Kickstarter.
  • 40:30 – How they develop a new product to be made overseas and protect their IP.
  • 42:50 – Advice to others that want to build a consumer product brand.
  • 45:20 – How they do market research.
  • 48:40 – What was their original big picture goal? How has that changed?
  • 51:00 – Expanding sales and distribution to Europe.
The startup team, Michael in the middle, flanked by Austin Stoffers (left) and Jordan Schau.

POST GAME ANALYSIS

Where most cycling brands seem aimed at enthusiasts, Pure Cycles found a different niche by selling easy to use, affordable bikes to people that just wanted something cool to ride around on or commute to school.

Michael and his friends used personal funds to start small, then continually reinvested profits to grow through the first year. They could have continued that way, but to ramp it up quickly and build inventory and staff, they took on private investments and bank loans.

An omni-channel strategy puts the bikes where the customers are, whether that’s online or through 500+ bike shops. What’s important to note is how they’ve kept both customers and shops happy by offering benefits that are important to each. For riders, they have options for delivery that meet their needs and skill level. For shops, Pure Cycles is driving customers through their doors and boosting their revenue by paying them to assemble the bikes for their customers. The shops can then upset helmets, gloves, lights, etc. Win, win.

I like his advice to just “ship it.” It’s important to get the product good enough, but once it meets your initial goals, get it to market and then use real world customer feedback to fine tune the next iteration.

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