Our latest prototype had been working really well. We’d captured some brilliant footage to show what the Upside Rack could do. Now it was time to introduce the Upside Rack to the big wide world. Nervous? A bit. Excited? Hell yeah!
More specifically, in September this year I headed to the US for Interbike before crossing the pond to visit Cycle Show UK. At both events, some key industry folk were available for a show and tell and it was an opportunity we couldn’t afford to miss.
But, as a lifelong introvert it was a daunting prospect. Surely the workshop or CAD machine at home couldn’t survive without me. Did I really need to talk to industry people?
Afraid so. Industry feedback and hearing some opinions of our rack solution for those who really know the industry is crucial. These shows provide the golden opportunity to see all the key industry figures in one place, as well as touch base with distributors and some key media.
First stop: Las Vegas for Interbike, the largest annual gathering of the bicycle industry in North America. I arrived at Mandalay Bay Convention Centre and raced to register before quickly jumping on the bus to outdoor demo area. Sure, I was there on business but I am a rider first and I couldn’t miss out. The guys at the Pivot stand took pity on me as I ran up to them in the dying minutes of the Outdoor Demo and begged for a chance to take out a bike. They were awesome and rallied around to find a helmet and dial up the Switchblade for me. I am by no means a bike reviewer so I’ll save you my 10 cents on the bike other than to say it brought a big smile to my face and I was feeling pretty happy as I rolled back in with the tents already packing up at the close of the demo days.
But back to business and the real reason I was there. I strolled around among the hundreds of exhibitors and was excited by all the cool product on display. But it quickly struck me that there wasn’t much that was truly innovative and new. Sure, the GoPro stand had a huge crowd for the Karma launch spectacular and the enormous range of everything from E bikes to energy bars was super impressive. But mostly I was looking at an evolution of ideas; products and gear that we have already seen and used in some form before.
A real nervous energy grew within me as my thoughts turned to the Upside Rack. We have produced something that has never been done before. I began to view the bits of engineered alloy and polymers slung under my arm as my little piece of innovation that I just couldn’t wait to show the bike community.
I thought I’d start by dropping in at the NBDA (National Bike Dealers Association) stand. We wanted to join up, support the local industry and see what we could learn at the same time. Boy, was I in for a treat! After some friendly chats to the helpful volunteers and staff I walked away with more industry knowledge than my tiny mind could absorb. With a page full of notes and a mind blown into fragments I sat down to absorb and review what I’d learned. I couldn’t wait to share it with Sean and I didn’t want to forget anything.
During my visit to Interbike, I was able to show the Upside Rack to some industry heavyweights. It’s always fun to see people watch our videos or check out the prototype and hear them respond with “Wow!” or “It’s that simple!”. But things went to a whole other level as I showed the Upside Rack to people who have held senior roles across the whole bike industry for decades. These people have seen product after product and yet they still got a big kick out of our innovative bike rack. I heard encouraging comments like: “Distributors are going to want to have this!” and, “This is really a premium product with benefits that don’t currently exist”.
I was buzzing. What a blast!
After a few more fantastic meets with fellow ‘bike nuts’ and a lot more gawking at all the shiny things a bike show has to offer, I packed up and headed for the UK to meet up with Sean and the UK side of the bike world.
When I finally reached home, tired but very excited, it was back to the engineering world of Upside Racks with a fresh enthusiasm I didn’t expect. Knowing that we will get our customers riding more bikes, more often and in less time than anyone thought was possible.