In early 2012, we were getting ready to launch EVELO.
We spent the previous year getting everything in place for the launch, but still knew that we had an uphill battle. As a new company that focuses on online distribution with a product that starts at around $2,000, we not only had to create awareness about our electric bikes, but also prove to our clients that our products were reliable and worthy of their business. As a young company, our work was cut out for us.
Now, a while back, prior to starting EVELO, I realized a long-term dream of mine by completing a 27,000km overland journey from South Africa to England in a 1980 Land Rover. It was a life changing experience since you spent several months on the road and had to rely on yourself, your team members and the communities of people that you’d meet along the way for everything. That experience led to an idea…
An unconventional way to launch a company
One afternoon, I was meeting with EVELO’s co-founder Yevgeniy about the upcoming launch of EVELO, and we came up with an idea. At first it seemed a bit impossible, but as we started to think more and more about it, it started to make sense.
What if we do the first-ever trans-American electric bike trip on our bikes? By riding around 4,000 miles from New York City to San Francisco, we’d be able to really put our bikes through the ultimate, real-world test and ensure that the product can handle anything that our clients will put it through in the future.
The great plan about something as audacious as this was that if there were any problems or issues, they would surely come out as we’d ride over 75 to 110 miles per day in varying terrain – from the Appalachians in the East Coast to the long stretches of road in the mid-West to the more difficult terrain on the West Coast.
A trip like this would help us discover problems before they impact our clients, improve the product by getting a comprehensive first-hand experience using it, and show our potential customers what the bikes are actually capable of.
It wouldn’t stop there, though. With a trip like this, this would give us an opportunity to connect with people in different cities all across the country to learn more about their perspectives on electric bikes and their needs. What better way to collect that feedback than by letting people all over the country test our electric bikes and chat with them face-to-face about their experience.
The more we thought about it, the more we felt that it was the perfect way to get started. So, within a few months, the plan was put in place.
I recruited a long-time friend of mine and cycling enthusiast to be my partner on the trip. We set up meetings and presentations with various groups in about a dozen cities along the route. And on April 7th of 2012, we set out from Brooklyn, NY on the Aries and Aurora models and headed West to San Francisco.
We blogged about the entire two-and-a-half month experience and almost 4,000 miles on the road on the Trans-American Electric Bike Tour site and, if you’re curious to hear more about it, I invite you to check out that blog.
In the end, we were able to put our money where our mouth is. The bikes themselves performed superbly, although we were still able to get a ton of insight that helped us improve everything – from the product itself to how we interact with the customers these days.
It may have been unconventional, but it proved to be an invaluable experience and really helped us get EVELO off to a fantastic start. And, of course, we had one hell of an adventure along the way.