In London, one startup is successfully using state-of-the-art technology to fine-tune the performance of elite cyclists. Here Richard Melik, owner of Freespeed, talks to inspiresme.co.uk about his growing company.
“Freespeed uses the latest motion capture technology from the USA to dynamically analyse cyclists’ position and pedaling efficiency.
Richard Melik’s company Freespeed grew out of two passions: cycling and serial entrepreneurship. He has represented Great Britain at triathlon events around the globe and has raced in 11 Ironman competitions. He’s founded several companies throughout his working life, and seems to be happiest sitting firmly on the owner’s saddle.
“From the age of 25 I have worked for myself in one form or another - either self employed or as founding director of three successful design agencies, so I guess I am either a serial entrepreneur or a very reluctant employee!
His company name is taken from a popular cycling term; riders often say that new bikes or pieces of specialist equipment give them ‘free speed.’ Richard registered the name several years ago with the intention of creating a business around it.
“Through my coaching I have been helping cyclists with their bike positions for several years and decided that there was a gap in the West London market for a state of the art bike fit studio.”
Richard’s studio in London is now established and he is growing the business in new and innovative ways. He’s just arranged to appear at a dedicated training camp in Lanzarote with all his kit, and will be offering bike fits to attendees.
Things are going well for Freespeed, but setting up the business has not always been a walk in the park. As with many businesses, funding the start-up costs was challenging. Richard joined forces with a like-minded business partner, Duncan Scott, to raise the necessary capital.
“Our second main challenge was finding a location and premises for the studio and a landlord that would accept a start up business. The final challenge has been getting the word out to the thousands of cyclists in London about Freespeed. Social media has proved to be an integral part of our marketing effort. Word of mouth, testimonials and recommendations have all proved valuable and kept a constant flow of customers coming through the door.”
As to what makes Freespeed unique, Richard believes it’s a combination of technology and experience.
“Freespeed uses the latest motion capture technology from the USA to dynamically analyse cyclists’ position and pedaling efficiency. Our extensive knowledge and experience of all facets of cycling from triathlon to road racing make us unique in our ability to offer advice and bike fitting to London cyclists.
And Richard has no plans to stop riding at full pelt:
“In the near future we are planning a move to a bigger studio space which will allow us to offer new services to our clients. Longer term plans are to open a second studio in London.”
Richard’s top tips for entrepreneurs:
- Start small but with the flexibility in place to allow for growth
- Keep up a steady marketing effort, particularly when things are going well – don’t wait for a downturn
- Focus on your brand – if potential customers connect and identify with your brand then you’ve won half the battle