Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Eurobike 2012 - got there in the end!

I've just had my version of Trains, Planes & Automobiles.

After partnering one of our clients in a new venture I had to travel to Eurobike, Friedrichshafen (Ellen typed in this name I was lost after Fried..) in Germany to launch our new product.
Approaching Friedrichshafen
5:30am taxi to Manchester airport, 2 hour flight to Zurich, 2 hour train to Konstanz with a sweaty sprint to the ferry dock, with a 1.30 hour trip on the Catamaran to Friedrichshafen then 40 minute wait for shuttle bus and finally a 20 minute bus journey I arrived at the Eurobike exhibition hall just in time to get a lift back to our hotel. If you think it was boring to read this imagine taking the journey (the journey also included a miss-sold train ticket and a 'nearly evicted' from said train moment).

Purpose of my trip was to launch our new ground breaking cycling cleat, not very exciting for none cyclist but passing interest to other business people & entrepreneurs.

Our busy stand
This all came about because I'm a mean, tight, miserly individual with strong distaste for waste. While riding my new road bike I was horrified to discover after only 6 weeks I had to replace my cleats as they had worn out. At a considerable cost of nearly £20 a pair, (that's like putting fuel in a bloody car) did I mention I also have no money.

So... I thought lets make some cleats that last longer, after a short period of deep thought I had it, why not make them double sided?

Now having the idea is the easiest part of inventing the difficulty comes is when you have to: design it, patent it, make prototypes, go through 100's of hours CAD time make numerous mistakes and wrong assumptions, get other people to believe in it, ignore detractors, make sure you can make it a price people will pay, plan your route to market and finally sales and marketing (which Mako are helping with). Oh! and get partner agreement on the name.

Because the original prototype looks like a ugly face in certain light I decided that's a good name UGLYFACE (still love it!) we eventually went with 2FACE (Like this too!).

This product has got this far thanks to 2 other people, mainly John O'brien from FIBRAX who instantly realised the benefit of a unique product for his company (Fibrax are a quality driven family run business with a rich 100 year history and are the only remaining British cycle parts manufacturer). Matt Skelhorne a trainee product designer from Fibrax (he's a clever little git). Other members of the Fibrax team where instrumental in progressing the project in no small part as well, Sarah, Peter & Robert. The main benefit of the cleat other than potential strong sales is that it works better than an Ad campaign. There's only so much you can say and only so much excitement you can generate in relation to cycle brake parts, which every other manufacturer or importer more or less does similar products. But a new innovative product makes media column inches and drives brand awareness.

We launched 2FACE at Eurobike end of last month and what a response we got, wholesalers where very keen to start stocking the cleat and it has justifiably revived interest in Fibrax from numerous quarters of the cycle industry.

To end I repeated in reverse my inward journey with the added discomfort of pouring rain (with no coat) and the disappointment of seeing the hourly Catamaran disappearing out of the ferry port as I  disembarked the shuttle bus, aaarrrggghhhh!

Compensation for the long journey is the little resort town
of Lindau, beautiful.

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