RideWrap is a young company specializing in tailored frame protection for all kinds of bicycles. Curious to learn more about how the company was created, how the products were developed and how it's all been going, we reached out to them with a a few questions. Keep reading if you're curious too!
Answers provided by Dan Seguin - Co-Founder and Director
Can you tell us a bit more about how you got started? Where did the original idea come from?
So, RideWrap fully came together when Callum Rostron and I met in 2018. He’d come over to Whistler from the UK on a 2-month vacation in 2016, and of course, never left. I’d moved here from Ontario dreaming of an early retirement in the mountains after finishing my engineering degree - but that all went out the window once Callum and I got chatting about ideas. We both have a background in business ventures - at 21 Callum was running his own vehicle body repair shop, and I launched a small landscape and construction business at 16 that’s still growing to this day, so the concept of going into business together came pretty naturally.
Callum holds claim to the RideWrap inception moment, but I think it was less of an ‘aha’ moment and more like a lot of hard work combined with sheer tenacity. Callum’s that riding buddy we all have who is a relentless shredder, so he was painfully familiar with how damaged a bike’s frame can get after just a couple of rides. Sadly, even with his skilled bodywork touch, his precious Specialized Demo was quickly writing itself off, barely making it to the end of the season.
He gave up on his losing battle and started looking for a way to prevent the damage rather than spending hours trying to fix it. But soon realized that frame protection options were super limited - they’d probably have minimal coverage, a basic ‘one-size-fits-all solution’ that needed re-working anyway, and would ultimately punish you with a permanent sticky mess if you ever decided to remove it. So he grabbed some paper, protective film and something sharp and started crafting his own templates. His kitchen transformed into a workshop and he started creating customized wraps for his bikes - and the first RideWrap was born in Callum’s kitchen in Whistler BC! It wasn’t long before his whole house was full of his mates’ bikes too… and his side hustle was starting to look more like a full-time gig.
That’s when I came in. I’ve always been a builder; of things, products and businesses. Being a bike product, the RideWrap protection business definitely fit the bill, so I brought in my technical skills to create the design process and end product. At the same time, we also began building out the brand and business side of things. We spent all of our spare time in his house testing designs that we printed from Gail, our faithful first plotter, until RideWrap was officially introduced to the world!
What was the initial reception? Did you find that you had to do a lot of market education or was there a lot of demand from the start for this kind of product?
Early on we were met with a fair bit of skepticism, like anything new and innovative I guess. Some people thought it was pointless, and some people assumed it wouldn’t work. I totally get it, it’s kinda funny trying to prove the worth of a product that’s almost invisible. However, people did begin to realize the value of RideWrap, and others were curious enough to enter a conversation about it.
We definitely didn’t invent the idea of frame protection, riders have been using old tubes, electrical tape, velcro, etc to try and preserve their bikes for as long as they’ve been on trails - the demand for the product already existed, so we always had that as leverage. The difference is, we saw an opportunity to level it up with our Tailored Protection™ product. A kit that was make, model and size-specific and included everything needed to install at home.
While we have made strides in the industry, I would say the product is still new to many. So a lot of what we do from a marketing perspective is to educate riders on the options and benefits of frame protection. We often hear of different things that people are putting together locally, there are always many ways to skin a cat, but we are just happy if we can help teach people that protecting their bikes provides them with value. Ultimately, a more durable bike stays on the trails for longer, and that has to be a pretty good thing for riders and the planet.
Any particular growing pains that you had to overcome? Technical or business-related? Tell us about those early days.
Ha, the growing pains are still real! Like all businesses, every day is a collection of problem-solving, but fortunately, there’re more of us to tackle it together these days. RideWrap products are designed, made and operated by riders, for riders, so we all talk the same language which makes a huge difference.
The technological challenge was massive back at the start though. We set some pretty insane benchmarks for what we were trying to achieve with our designs and overall quality. A key piece in bringing our Tailored Protection™ to the masses was building the technology-integrated design process - ‘the secret sauce’ - it was just a constant series of dead ends and a real challenge to dial in. I know it’s expected, but damn, it grinds on you! And of course, everything took much longer to nail than we estimated, and we were adamant about not releasing anything until we were fully stoked about it. Ultimately the extra time meant more pressure on our bank account - or lack of one, actually!
Nowadays, our biggest challenge is managing our ‘on-demand’ production model. We’re different from most companies in that when our customers order products globally, we make them specifically at our facilities located nearest to them, aiming to ship within 1 business day (Canada, USA, New Zealand, UK, and Sweden currently - with more to come!). This means that riders get their products fast and without the headaches of international purchasing. Designing that gnarly supply chain is all down to an amazing team, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without them!
What is unique about RideWrap’s main product?
Our Tailored Protection™ is our core product line and there are a few things that set it apart:
- We have the widest range of model and size-specific kits in the world. This means that we are actually able to provide kits to the majority of riders.
- They’re made from our proprietary RideWrap Bike Specific Film (which is only available with RideWrap kits). Our film is thicker and more durable than other films (and kits) available, leading to better on-bike performance. It’s hydrophobic and stain-resistant, meaning it’s super easy to clean and maintain bikes. It’s self-healing, so minor scuffs and scrapes disappear with warmth, meaning bikes stay way shinier and better looking. The adhesives are designed for bike paint systems, including hard-to-deal-with matte paint, making installation more painless. And, the film is optically clear and matches bike paint finishes for that perfect invisible protection kit.
Perfecting this product has been a major goal and journey for us. When we started we were using the best available films on the market, however, we always felt that there was room for improvement since those products were designed for the automotive industry, not bikes. We wanted to change that and the results have been amazing.
- Our tech-based design system allows us to deliver the highest possible coverage, up to 95%, while maintaining great fit and installability.
- Our kits come with all the tools needed to install, all you need is a spray bottle which most people will find underneath their sink.
- Our products are made and shipped in local riding communities and our packaging and products are made from recycled materials where possible. RideWrap is committed to sustainable improvements at each step, and we’re always looking for ways to build on it.
How has the company grown? How is the product distributed today?
From a team perspective, we have grown quite a bit. From just two guys in a living room, we’re now a 35-person strong team covering the globe.
With the goal of making the product as easily available and sustainably as possible, we have expanded our channels quite drastically. We operate our own storefronts in Canada, the US and the UK. We also work with thousands of local bike shops and bike product distributors across the world; and, of course, we sell through our website to over 100 countries worldwide.
In 2022, we released a super cool offering for local bike shops and dealers with our Super Cutter. This is a software program which gives shops, entrepreneurs, and PPF/tint specialists the tools to create and install RideWrap kits on-site and to demand.
Simply put, we try to be where bikers are and make the process easy!
Customers can install the product themselves, or have it done by a dealer. Can you tell us approximately what the split is between the two?
We started by primarily selling products through our website. We dedicated a huge amount of focus to ensuring the kits included all the tools needed to make the install process as simple as possible. We have continued down the e-commerce path heavily and a majority of our protection kits are installed at home. However, each day more bike shops and dealers are offering installation services for those who prefer to have it done for them. We’ve been working hard, developing software (the Super Cutter), to enable this for more dealers across the world.
What does today look like for RideWrap? Day in the life…
At each of our locations, the team typically get into the shop and circle around the coffee maker like vultures, chat about yesterday's crashes, throw in some huddles to catch up on what everyone’s been doing, then put our head’s down to tackle the biggest issues at hand. We’ve grown this company ourselves as a team, there is no deep pocket to tap into, so I would consider us a scrappy bunch that are always trying to create solutions to problems.
Inherently, most on the team are riders themselves, so there are always pre-work/lunch/post-work rides ongoing and in the winters we fill the riding void with powder laps. Of course, these activities pair perfectly with bike events, parties, and beers. We are fortunate to have positioned our storefronts and offices in places where we can enjoy our favorite pastimes, because what's better than work… work and fun.
Anything you can share in regards to your product roadmap? Any particular areas of expansion or growth that you are looking at?
Our goals from a product perspective are to ensure options for all riders. We are constantly adding models to our list of available Tailored Protection™ kits (thousands and thousands a year) and developing new universal products for our Covered Protection™ and Essential Protection™ ranges. We have some exciting things on the horizon to open up new product lines… I’ll stay hush-hush on those for now, but I can say that those products are always driven by what riders are looking for.
As I mentioned, our protection kits are made from our proprietary RideWrap Bike Protection film, which has been a huge success since launching it in 2022. We aren’t sitting on our laurels though, and are looking at the next iterations from a usability perspective, but also from a sustainability perspective so that we can help drive a greener future across our entire range.
Not as clearly defined as a product, but we’re also working on expanding our own storefronts and production locations. This makes the product lines more accessible to riders across the globe as we want to provide a frictionless purchase for everyone, and it’ll also improve the sustainability of the product by reducing shipping and logistics emissions.
Any plans for adding color and graphics to your frame protection kits?
Haha, this is a dangerous question! Over the past couple of years, we have been able to deliver neat graphic projects with top riders and brands. These result in very cool and unique bikes, some might say drool-worthy and definitely result in a fair few enquiries in our inbox. With the resources needed to deliver one of these unique kits, we aren't able to deliver them in a retail program at this time, but hey, we’ll see what the future holds, we are always trying to get the riders what they want!
You support a few race teams, is that an important part of product development for you, or more of a marketing tool?
We’re huge fans of supporting race teams - racing is core to biking’s history and brings us together to push the sport. Our team, rider, and ambassador involvement is a combo of both marketing and product testing. We love working with riders to get the word out about frame protection, at the same time it also enables us to put the products to the test in real-world and accelerated environments. Throughout training and racing, these riders put thousands of kilometers on their bikes so we are able to monitor the performance of the films we develop and the kits we design.
With an ever-changing media landscape and constant evolution in consumer habits online, how do you keep up? What is your focus when it comes to getting the word out?
There’s so much focus on chasing big data when it comes to online customer habits and it’s definitely tricky not to get lost in it. Fortunately, we are geeks and we use a variety of tools to measure and monitor our progress. We try to be nimble and we aren’t afraid to experiment with new tech and platforms.
That being said, we also try not to overcomplicate it. We treat our customers as we would like to be treated, like real riders and people, so we look to create real narratives with them - there’s still no better way to connect than with a trail day, group ride, cool/fun video, local race, or of course a good ol’ party. In the end, we ask ourselves, how do we like to connect with brands?
Any closing remarks?
I’d like to thank everyone in the riding community that supports us, we’ve followed your cues every step of the way and will continue to do so. I also would like to give a shout-out to all RideWrap staff (past and present) for working their butts off, it’s been very fun to build something alongside you all.
It’s so gratifying to see people engaging positively with the product - I'm still amazed when I visit a far off land and see our product and the stoke for the sport alive and well, this is why we do it. Ride on.