Late last week I stopped at our PO Box and found the March 2017 INC Magazine. As I got back into the car and handed the mail to my wife Noelle, her eye caught the short teaser in the upper right corner of the cover - “How to Startup After 50”. With a cynical look I asked Noelle to tell me what the article was about. I bet her it was a story advising the 50Plus demographic to crack open our nest eggs, seek additional money from family and friends, maybe some angel investors, promise jobs to a bunch of people while trying out a less than fully validated idea to put ourselves on a trajectory to likely wealth. I see those all the time. On this one, boy was I wrong!
Inside the title was “Life Cycle” placed in the middle of what looked like the mug sheet for a police lineup of a gang of 50Plus folks all with a slight grin on their faces. So what is Pedego? What gang of 50Plus folks were all willingly photographed with the same general look on their face and why? Our yoga instructor refers to that look as, the “smile of knowing”. It looks as if they just discovered the answer to one of life’s deepest secrets. Pedego’s trademarked byline is “hello fun”. But, what kind of fun you ask?
What is Pedego?
The subtitle of the article is the reveal. “Pedego is taking profitable advantage of two converging trends: aging customers looking for an easier bike ride and aging founders who want a second (or 3rd or 4th) act”. Pedego is one of the most brilliant young companies that I have seen in a lot of years as a serial entrepreneur and teacher most recently turned to teaching entrepreneurship to my own 50Plus demographic. The challenge for any startup is product-market fit. As stated in the subtitle, Pedego has a textbook case of perfect fit.
Pedego could be a business school case study on almost every dimension of its creation, growth strategy, operations, not to mention technology and engineering of their line of 9 models of electric bikes. Their bikes along with the brand image Pedego is cultivating are spreading joy to so many people in such a simple yet elegant way - it really is about saying “hello fun”.
As a business idea for the 50Plus demographic, Pedego is not just for those of us in the US. The company already has stores in other parts of the world. The reason I chose to blog about Pedego is that it offers the opportunity to become part of a cohort of like minded entrepreneurial store owners led by two 50Plus entrepreneurs, Don DiCostanzo and Terry Sherry, who are committed to changing not just the lives of customers but their store owners, 50Plus or younger, too.
A Franchise? - Definitely Not!
I was stunned when I realized that Pedego appears to be a franchise but is not. That is an incredible benefit. Most Pedego stores are independently owned by folks like those in the INC Magazine mug sheet photos, all of whom paid no fees to get started, just the costs of their inventory and the simple furnishing of an attractive multi-colored 1,000 - 2,000 sq ft retail space. The Pedego home office team assists in locating, outfitting, opening and even some of the major tasks of running the business with their range of dealer support services.
New Income Streams for 50Plus
The pricing to the end customer is very fair. The markup of the Pedego products is a win-win which allows Pedego store owners to have a clear shot at a healthy income. That is what 50Plus Nation is about, new income streams post-50. Having a product that almost sells itself is icing on the cake. Just to be clear, this opportunity is about generating a healthy new income stream with a clear sense of purpose, not about boundless financial wealth.
Visiting Pedego Portland
When I finished the article I immediately found that there is a dealer here in Portland, Oregon. I made a bee-line for it. Tommy Connell, who worked in the Huntington Beach Pedego store for more than a year realized he was missing a great opportunity not working for himself. He identified Portland as an opportunity 1 year ago and quickly moved here to open the second store in Oregon.
The first store here was started in the early days of Pedego in the town of Bend in central Oregon. Tommy is one of the few Millennial owners to recognize the opportunity. Tommy and his assistant David Peters were very forthcoming in talking about the Pedego experience to Noelle and I with only good things to say.
Riding a Pedego Commuter
Tommy and David let me take my first ride on a Pedego City Commuter with an incredibly comfortable beach cruiser-style seat and highly adjustable handlebars along the Willamette River walk in downtown Portland. I was so excited the Portland winter cold and damp didn’t phase me. I had ridden my trusty non-electric Cannondale mountain bike downtown so that I would have a side-by-side comparison. The question became when to use the electric assist. I didn’t use it most of the time because I really wanted to feel the unassisted comparison with my Cannondale. The Pedego is heavier but it was no harder to pedal without an electric assist.
My route included a trip across Portland’s newest bridge, the Tillikum Crossing. Halfway up to the peak was when I decided to let the Pedego show its true colors by applying the electric assist. On my Cannondale I would have been under 5 mph most of the way up, whichever gear I was in. I decided to see if I could stay even with a bus crossing the bridge that had caught up to me. The bus gave me the thrill of an audience looking out their windows. With the tweak of my wrist on the throttle, just in front of the right hand grip, within seconds the digital speedometer was reading 20 mph just as I hit the peak of the bridge. I was still pedaling along with the assist to the amazement of myself and my audience keeping up with the bus the whole way.
Electric Assist or No?
Noelle and I went back together today for the same test ride. Our joint conclusion: there is no comparison between electric and non-electric. At this point in life electric-assist wins hands down. Why not have an assist when you want it? It is very affordable. A fully charged battery can provide up to 60 miles of electric-assist before needing a 4-5 hour recharge The Pedego City Commuter marketed itself to both Noelle and I. The words I keep using in my head are “magic carpet ride”. The ride is so smooth, at times I felt like I was hovering, not even touching the pavement.
Learning More from Pedego HQ
Needless to say, our interest was peaked on multiple levels, including for my 50Plus Nation audience. To learn more we have engaged in a discussion with Pedego headquarters near Irvine, California. We had a first introductory call and they began to share information with us which gives us more detail on the entire package of support they provide. An interesting factoid is that their point person for the inquiries about new stores, Cassidy Castleman, is the millennial son of the first non-company owner of a Pedego store. He is the voice on a series of videos. Just as an example of what is covered, one video is dedicated to the broad marketing support, including professional social media and website services along with design, and in some cases the full costs of printed materials. These are major issues for any solopreneur using the web, whatever the product. Pedego hits it directly with the right answer!
My take away is that Pedego is truly set up to feel like a “business in a box” for the committed entrepreneur, or in many cases the entrepreneurial couple. It clearly takes work. However, with a product that sells itself and also naturally becomes the focus of lots of socializing it doesn’t look like it could be overwhelming - as a store owner it looks like - “hello fun”, along with a new income stream.
Noelle and I are giving serious thought to joining the Pedego family of store owners - geography yet to be identified since Portland is taken and being offered with great professionalism.
Stay tuned as our Pedego adventure unfolds. It is early days but may move very fast.
Visit some of these pages for more information…...if you are in Portland please go see Tommy Connell and David Peters - follow the link below to Pedego Portland.