Remember when cycling was niche? That’s certainly changed over the last couple of years. With the advent of Boris Bikes, the Tour de France hitting the UK and superstar Olympians like Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Laura Trott, cycling has gone mainstream.
According to TfL research for the Guardian, there’s been a 5% year-on-year increase in cycling journeys within central London’s congestion charge zone.
Similarly, a Persistence Market Research (PMR) report predicts that the global market for bicycles will grow by 37.5% over the period 2016-2024.
But back in 2008, Adam Tranter had the foresight to realise that cycling was a growing industry. Driven by a love of the sport passed down from his father, he started writing for various cycling magazines during his school days. “I realised that there was an opportunity to put brands forward into this space in ways they hadn’t done before.” Convinced there was a gap in the market, Adam Tranter set up his own PR and social media agency. And so Fusion Media was born. In his bedroom.
Fast forward a decade, and Fusion Media looks after big name clients like Red Bull, The Telegraph and Ribble Cycles. In the last twelve months they've doubled in size. They used to cater mostly to specialist media, but now look to national and mainstream media in the fields of sport, health and transport. Although around 60% of their business is cycling, they're branching into other endurance sports – in particular, running.
One of their clients is Strava, the Silicon Valley-based social network for athletes. Fusion Media looks after European press and have been charged with “getting new and different audiences ... changing the news output from performance-led to community-led.”
Fusion is taking Strava to the masses, and not just a group of speedy athletes. A huge growth area and focus for Strava is running; you may have read in the papers recently about how Strava data shed light on the London Marathon. The approach seems to be working: Strava has 1 million new members every 40 days.
As they branch into new endurance sports, their team has shifted accordingly. Tranter says he has “built his career out of passion and specialist knowledge.” He wants the same values in his team. They've just hired Andy Baddeley, a middle-distance runner, parkrun world record holder and Olympic 1500m finalist. This has helped them as they grow in running and other endurance sports, often using digitally-focused media, from providing community managers for brands and identifying “credible”, as Tranter puts it, influencers.
There is definitely a dynamic sporting culture in The Record Hall office: team members arrive in full gear, park their bikes in storage and have a shower. They get a weekly delivery from, Michele Gasparro, the fruit and veg seller on Leather Lane. Wiesia, Fusion‘s first employee, is off for two weeks this summer to ride from Belgium to Greece. Iain, the digital manager, will be competing in Ironman Zurich. Tranter jokes and says having three-year-old twins is quite enough endurance training for him.
After the bedroom in 2008, came the company’s first office, a shed at the back of an office building in Ealing, and it's fitting that the team seems to have come full circle. The team moved out of Quality Court for a bigger space and in that office they've built, you guessed it, a shed. It is an everyday - albeit large - shed, crowned with antlers made from a bike saddle and handlebars, a custom-made vent for air conditioning and a chunk out of the roof so it fits vertically. They got designer Nick Butterfield in – he specialises in retail spaces for sports brands – to help with furnishing “a brand-new space which acts as a canvas.” Workspace know how important this can be for businesses and allows customers to fully personalise the space they're in to suit the company's ethos and needs.
The meeting room isn't wackiness for wackiness's sake, Tranter says: “It has connotations with what we do. A shed is where a lot of our target market keep their pride and joy.” Given they’re looking to expand into new countries and different sports over the next few years, that target market will only keep on growing.
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