red power bike Founder Mike Radenbaugh grew up among redwood trees on Northern California’s Lost Coast, with “tree-hugging parents and tree-hugging neighbors” and a life connected to nature. It made the founder aware not only of alternative ways of life which are more responsible for the planet but also for alternative energy. As a young teenager looking into the electric vehicle space, Radenbaugh became active after seeing electric motorcycles and cars pop up, but was impatient with their slow commercialization.
When Radenbaugh was 15, he built his first e-bike hacking parts together, which he had sourced from Radio Shack and eBay, which he salvaged from his job as a bellboy at a downtown hotel. This was back in 2007, and despite its young age, Radenbaugh says this is the year that Rad Power Bikes was founded.
“I started advertising in the local newspaper and they gave me the first ad for free, I think because I went into this punk kid and they felt sympathy for me,” Radenbaugh told Nerdshala.
Over the next few years, Radenbaugh continued to operate as a sole proprietor building e-bikes for those who would arrive in search of something fast and powerful to replace their car travel. Along the way, he says he understood exactly what customers wanted and what was missing from the marketplace.
With all this knowledge and practical experience, in 2015, Radenbagh relaunched Rade Power Bikes as a direct-to-consumer business. He and his growing team worked to complete the business model by connecting company-owned retail stores and mobile service centers across the country, partnering with a large network of bike shops, and creating a massive supply chain. did.
Now, the company has 615 staff members, plans to employ over 350,000 customers and is producing bikes in six countries. With $100 million in sales in 2019, the company is getting bigger, and it’s getting bigger fast.
Generally, this number has only increased in 2020 due to the COVID-related surge in e-bike sales. Earlier this year, the company raised $150 million globally, the largest funding round ever from a US electric bike startup. But as the world begins to take the coronavirus to a point where cities are opening up, will this boom in e-bike sales sustain?
We sat down with Radenbaugh to talk about the e-bike revolution, diversifying the supply chain, and building a product that’s built for how people want to use it.
The following interview, part of an ongoing series with founders who build transportation companies, has been edited for length and clarity.
What would you say is different about your business model compared to the competition? Companies like VanMoof have also been doing massive funding rounds recently.
Being user-friendly is consistent across the lineup. We popularized thicker tires on e-bikes, we popularized throttles on e-bikes, to give more power to our customers. None of those things actually existed; They were just super nascent and more of a DIY community until we commercialized them. So I think both of those features are important to the DNA of our business, and it just turns out that we found out something early on that a lot of people didn’t listen to the customer – that the bike shouldn’t be pedal assisted only. Be. They should be more solid and really move your butt from point A to point B.