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braaap: A business operating at full throttle

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Brad Smith’s story is a classic example of a passionate hobby unfolding into small business success. From quiet beginnings in the backyard shed with his Dad, his passion, drive and energy have helped him build a retail chain of braaap stores. The original motocross store in his native Launceston, has now become 4 stores selling everything to do with the lifestyle – from parts and accessories, to riding gear and street clothes.

Growing up Brad’s whole life was motocross. He particularly loved the Superlight category, however it was quite inaccessible due to the prohibitive price of the bikes. They were custom-built and cost in excess of $12,000. Brad was determined to develop and build a cheaper version. “If we were going to get the sport pumping in Australia, like it was in the States, we needed a superlight bike that was more affordable.”

After 3 years of development in the garage, Brad designed a bike he thought was competitive. He then travelled to China to find a factory that would make it to his exact specs and avoid the quality issues he’d found with other imports. After much searching, and with very little money or backing, he was lucky enough to find a French-owned company that shared his vision.

And the name braaap, well it was Brad’s nickname for years. “It’s the sound a motocross bike makes when it’s accelerating”, says Brad.

A family business

His whole family are involved in the business. His father is head mechanic, his mother is operations director and his sister runs the office. This family involvement has helped drive remarkable growth in just 4 years. They’re looking to build a franchise network and work their way towards 50 stores in Australia. Plus there are plans to expand to the United States. In fact, the business is almost growing too fast.

His Visa Business cards help him keep up. He uses his Visa Business credit card for expenses when he’s on go and to manage their cash flow at busy times like Christmas, when they need to stock up for the rush. He uses his Visa Business debit card for smaller office expenses. Both cards help him split his business and personal expenses when he’s on the go, which makes it easier for sister Sheridan to track and reconcile expenses.

Inspiring kids

But the business isn’t the only thing that drives him. His energy also fuels a more personal mission – to help young kids find their passion in life and thus get their adrenalin rush from outlets other than drugs or alcohol.

He does speaking and exhibition tours around Tasmania with his portable ramp, attracting thousands of teenagers. He’s even been granted a parcel of land to build a track and give young kids somewhere to ride.

Among the many small business and entrepreneur awards Brad has won, he’s probably proudest of the Sensis Social Responsibility Award he won last year in recognition of his efforts to encourage young people.  Because Brad’s aware he’s building more than a retail store, he’s building a culture.

To see how Visa Business helps Brad run braaap smoothly and catch some exciting motocross action visit visa.com.au/gobiz

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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