Rad Power Bikes founder Mike Radenbaugh grew up among the redwoods of Northern California’s Lost Coast with “tree-loving relatives and neighbors” and a life connected with nature. This exposed the founder not only to alternative lifestyles that are more responsible towards the planet, but also to alternative energies. As a young teenager observing the electric vehicle space, Radenbaugh became energized upon seeing electric motorcycles and cars appear, but was eager for their slow commercialization.
When Radenbaugh was 15, he built his first electric bike by assembling parts he ordered from Radio Shack and eBay with the money he had saved from his job as a bellboy in the only hotel in town. . It was 2007, and despite his young age, Radenbaugh says it was the year that Rad Power Bikes was founded.
“I started to advertise in the local newspaper and they gave me the first free advertisement I think because I came in as a punk kid and they felt sympathy for me,” Radenbaugh said. at TechCrunch.
Over the next several years, Radenbaugh continued as a sole proprietor to build bespoke electric bikes for people looking for something fast and powerful to replace their road trips. Along the way, he says he really understood what customers wanted and what was missing in the market.
With all this knowledge and hands-on experience, Radenbaugh in 2015 relaunched Rad Power Bikes as a direct-to-consumer business. He and his growing team got to work perfecting the business model, adding company-owned retail stores and mobile service centers across the country, partnering with a large store network. bicycles and creating a large-scale supply chain.
Today, the company has 615 employees and plans to hire more, more than 350,000 customers and produces bicycles in six countries. The business is growing and growing rapidly, with reported 2019 sales of $ 100 million.
That number only increased in 2020, largely due to the boom in e-bike sales linked to COVID in general. Earlier this year, the company raised $ 150 million to expand globally, the largest round of funding for a U.S. e-bike startup. But as the world begins to battle the coronavirus at a point where cities are opening up, will this boom in e-bike sales last?
We sat down with Radenbaugh to talk about the electric bike revolution, diversifying the supply chain, and creating a product designed for the way people want to use it.
The following interview, which is part of an ongoing series with founders building transportation businesses, has been edited for length and clarity.
In your opinion, what differentiates your business model from that of the competition? Companies like VanMoof have also seen significant fundraising rounds in recent times.
User-friendliness is constant throughout the range. We popularized big tires on electric bikes, we popularized throttles on electric bikes, so that our customers can have more power. None of these things really existed; they were just super new and were more of the DIY community until we marketed them. So those two characteristics, I think, are sort of central to our company’s DNA, and it turns out that we knew something early on that a lot of people didn’t know by listening to the customer – that the bike should. You can’t only be assisted by pedal. They should be more substantial and really move your butt from point A to point B.