Opportunity; when does it knock? For some all the time for most of us every so often.
I (Shane) saw a unique opportunity to create something special. What it took was hard work and perseverance. Prior to the official launch in May it took 4 years to develop the bikes. Why 4 years? It takes time for any startup to get going, especially while maintaining my fulltime job with Bike Virginia, keeping up with the kids and life in general, let alone taking on a project of creating something as special as Pello from scratch.
Throughout the 4 years we took our time and went through several various manufactures before selecting one that could produce the type of bike we were looking for. I was new to the manufacturing side of bikes (prior experience was in designing, retail, non-profit and riding bikes) and quickly found out in my first visit to the Taipei Cycle Show that there are many, many choices for bicycle manufactures. We quickly discovered that not all manufactures are created equal. We unearthed this when we actually received our very first set of prototypes.
I was so excited when I knew they first set was coming. There was a blizzard heading our way here in Richmond and I had to meet the truck driver in a grocery store parking lot because he didn’t want to get stuck trying to find us. What I discovered in that first set of prototypes was not good. They were not at all what we specified, nor was the quality and attention to detail near where we wanted. In fact hey are still in our basement looking for “no” homes (we do not want those in the world). Luckily we didn’t have all our eggs in that basket and had other suppliers in the hopper. Though it wasn’t perfect and still needed refinement, we knew we had the right manufacture when it showed up at our door. The quality of the frame building was there, looking at the bones of the bike (welds and overall build quality), we had the raw materials so to speak we just needed to hone it into the perfect bike. That “honing” ended up taking us 4 years!
So that was just the beginning, now that we had a quality manufacture it was time to really get into the details of creating our bikes. We went through 3 full sets of prototypes before we finally were happy with how they turned out. Sometimes I felt like we would never cross the finish line, but we kept at it and when people would ask “how’s the bike business coming?” I would just say, it’s going great, with a smile, knowing that things would eventually work out.
As time and prototypes passed the bikes kept getting better and better and our test riders enjoyed them more and more, they would give us valuable feedback (as much as 3-8 year olds can) that we would incorporate into the bikes. Since we couldn’t ride the bikes ourselves (we were way to big) this feedback was essential. We would watch how they rode, taking photos and comparing riding positions over various prototypes. We consulted experts in bike fitting, bike building and bike mechanics. We put the bikes through every kind of test you can think of to hone them into what we believe is not just a great bike but the Ultimate Kids Bike.
Since our launch in May our little bikes have put smiles on lots of kid’s faces and it is so great to see our bikes out in the wild. In fact I love seeing them out and about with scratches, nicks, mud, cool stickers and seeing they are holding up and their little owners are really using them and loving them as much as we do. Check out our facebook page for an awesome image of a Romper with a baby doll kids seat attached on its back. I almost get emotional when I see the parents expression when their little one starts riding for the first time at one of our events while testing out a bike on our test track.
I saw the opportunity and have continued to make sure we aren’t wasting it. As Pello moves into the future we will continue to refine and develop the bikes, the bike you see today is a result of seizing an opportunity and making it into a reality. We will continue to create better bikes specifically for kids, that is Pello and that is what Pello means to us.