When Steven Atkinson wanted a new challenge, he just left home and travelled; when he wanted his own business, he just started one; and when he lost his passion – he just stopped and started over. Dynamic Business hears how ‘just getting on with it’ can pay dividends as Steven shares a story of fast growth and global expansion with his venture, aptly named, Just Ride It.
Originally from Manchester in the UK, Steven landed in Melbourne after a traveling the world in search of a new challenge. After a few months working as a removalist he started his own removals business, founded upon the belief that he could do things better. Growing the business to 16 staff and having scored some major accounts including Harvey Norman and Adriatic Furniture, it would seem he was right. But there was something missing. Passion.
Steven said “the business was doing well but my passion for it wasn’t there anymore so I sold it for a small profit and started Just Ride It.”
Inspired by his own passion for bikes and bike racing, Just Ride It is a retailer of custom designed, single speed and fixed gear bikes based in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
“When I was growing up I did a lot of downhill and trials riding in the UK, so bikes have always been a hobby. When I came to Australia I noticed there was a gap in the market when it came to single speed and fixed gear bikes.
“It was apparent that riders of these bikes didn’t want something off the shelf designed for the masses. They wanted something unique, special and personal,” said Steven.
And a lot of passion clearly goes a long way. “Evident from the moment someone walks into our store,” according to Steven, some might say it’s even infectious. Droves of customers have helped to make Just Ride It a globally recognised brand as they turn to visual mediums like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube to show off their customised bikes. As a result, 40 Percent of the business’ sales are now online and worldwide.
“Custom made bikes are part of a global consumer trend for customised and personalised products. We allow people to put their own personal stamp on their bike,” Steven said.
A growing consumer trend, a global trend and “hot with the 20-45-year-olds” – unsurprisingly, Just Ride It have discovered an alternative [and perhaps unexpected] customer base who want to tap into their market. Corporate clients now make up 35 per cent of the business as they seek to use their bikes to provide a point of difference for big brand marketing and promotional campaigns.
“With no real competition globally this style of client has delivered us massive growth having worked with, Dropbox, Adidas, BMW, Fitness First, Williams F1, Coca Cola and Jack Daniels. Plenty of local Melbourne bars and retailers also use us to enhance their physical shop fronts or fit outs.”
Having started the business with a modest $5000 from the sale of his removals company and remaining entirely bootstrapped, forward projections put company turnover at $2.5 million and growth at 400 per cent in the coming 12 months.
Eager to spread their wings, Steven says international expansion is now “top of mind.” Already operating an online store from Manchester in the UK which services the whole of Europe, December this year will see the opening of it’s first international store in London.
“Europe is key to growth, with many countries on our doorstep,” said Steven.
“International growth is where my focus is and I believe that we can build a much bigger brand with more value.”
With his sights now set on the Asia market, you might wonder where the investors have been all this time. According to Steven, capital investment has so far meant losing too much of the company.
“Independence has given us complete control and it has resulted in more growth that I could have ever expected,” he said.
That said, Steven concedes that his “eyes and ears are always open to interest.”
“I want an investor who has passion for the business and wants to get involved with the day to day.”