Over the next few episodes of From the Top I switch gears to speak to iconic individuals within the cycling industry to better understand how they got to where they are. First up, I speak to Phil Liggett about how he got his start in commentating, how he met Paul Sherwin, how he’s been doing since Paul’s untimely passing, his relationship/fallout with Lance Armstrong, and the cutthroat nature of his position at the top of his profession.
Founded by two longtime friends, Allan Lim and Ian McGregor as both were sidelined from the sport, they both described themselves as initially too ‘lazy’ to actually sell their ‘secret drink mix’ they were making for pro cycling teams at the time. With no business experience were able to hustle their way to become one of the biggest little brands in the sports nutrition world.
Apidura is a brand you may not be familiar with if you haven’t ventured into the world of bikpacking, touring or adventure racing, but they’re pioneers in rackless bike bags category, and support the community of ultra cyclists and bike packers. They’re a brand at the heart of this rapidly growing community and are enabling a whole new wave of this type of cycling. Tori Fahey is the founder of Apidura and never set out to create a business out of her homemade packs and bags. She did it to satisfy her own needs with how she loved balance her hectic life by doing long rides, tours and adventures. What I find inspiring about what Tori has done with Apidura is not necessarily the business she’s created (although that is pretty remarkable in its own right), but the foundation she’s build the company on, and the values she holds and follows through with. She’s been outspoken about consumerism and the culture of seasonal discounting. She is concious about the footprint the business leaves on the environment. She focuses her resources on making their products better, rather than new colorways or seasonal changes. She made a deliberate choice at the start not to be a growth led business, but to be a product led. That’s one thing to say when you have a hobby business, but something completely different when you have employees, a supply chain, and a customer base who depend on you.
SRAM all started with Stan Day taking on a triathlon challenge back in the 80’s and thinking that there has to be a better way than this whole down-tube shifting method. Twist-shift was his answer and he was able to convince a few friends to leave their good jobs, move across the country and start a business in Chicago and sell their better way. But as successful as the company is now, it certainly didn’t start out that way.
These days, you may associate Josh’s name as the man who reinvented Silca, the Italian tyre pump brand founded over a hundred years ago. But as with most of these stories, it was far from a straight path, and anything but easy. He started as a keen and talented cyclist, who later became a brilliant engineer who got his feet wet in motorsport and later went on to be an enormous influence in making the Zipp wheel brand what it is today.
An engineer by the name of Leigh Sargent is the founder of Zipp way back in the late 80’s, but it’s a gentleman by the name of Andy Ording who was Leigh’s first employee, bought the company outright in its early days, and built Zipp during its formative years.
Zipp now belongs to SRAM and its family of products and continues its legacy of innovation, but the origins of this pioneering brand started over 30 years earlier.
Wahoo Fitness started off in the boat docks business. Its founder, Chip Hawkins is an engineer, and entrepreneur, a tinkerer, and most importantly someone who loves to throw himself neck deep in fixing problems to make something better - and and it usually starts, only himself and his own needs.
Strava has become ubiquitous in over 50 million athlete’s lives and is arguably the most relevant social network to anyone who loves to sweat.
Michael Horvath and Mark Gainey are the co-founders of Strava who have been lifelong friends who quite literally changed how we interact with our cycling in both real life and with each other online.
A full transcript of this interview can be found at: https://cyclingtips.com/2020/05/from-the-top-building-strava/
In this latest episode of From the Top, I'm thrilled to give you an exclusive first look at the remarkable story of how Roman Arnold founded and built Canyon Bikes to where it is today.
Listen to the remarkable story of how Roman started cycling as a way of competing for recognition and approval from his father amongst his three brothers. He started from humble beginnings, got his hands dirty, educated himself, and grew Canyon to be one of the largest cycling brands in the world.
In this episode I speak to The Sufferfest founder David McQuillen about how he went from working in the Swiss Banking industry, to creating one of the largest indoor training platforms in his spare time and later selling the business to Wahoo Fitness.
Rapha has been one of the most innovative, aspirational and disruptive businesses in cycling, and Simon Mottram is the mastermind behind the brand. Rapha began from a single concept: Mottram's feeling for road cycling, and how he wanted it portrayed.
From a single jersey that wasn't even ready in time for the company launch, he built Rapha into the darling child of cycling brands. Here's Mottram's story of how he started this remarkable business.
Welcome to From the Top - a podcast about the founders, the innovators, and the remarkable people in the cycling industry and the stories about the icons they've created. Subscribe today and don't miss the first episode with Rapha founder Simon Mottram.