Cycling to success
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When their son Elijah was three, Ginger and Brett Rosenbauer put him on a bike and he took off like a rocket. Elijah just turned seven when he got his first “real” bike, and it turned out to be heavy, and needing modification. So, it was in the hot tub of their west Fort Collins home that Ginger, a stay at home mom and Brett, an executive at the Fort Collins bike manufacturer Niner, decided to start Trailcraft, a bike company devoted to small ones—kids, and now, small adults. Coming up with an idea is one thing, putting together a business is another. Brett took on the task of researching: “I have a pretty good pulse on the market, so I feel like we saw a trend, maybe three years before it was ready, and we launched at the prime time,” he said.
Ginger set about the work of learning how to run a business. As a MSW social worker, her education didn’t help much, but when Public Service Credit Union recommended she seek help at the SBDC, she was delighted. “I needed help with the accounting piece, with inventory and cash flow analysis,” Ginger said. And I got it with SBDC Consultant who was a great help. “She gave us a great set of spreadsheets that has had a profound effect—inventory management, cash flow analysis. This has been really helpful in going to the banks. It (made) us look really professional as a company to have all our ducks in a row. It’s meant we’ve been able to get good lending-- which has been super important to us.” “We did a first small run of 50 frames and parts. We launched two ways, on Kickstarter and our website with Rocket Jones.” Ginger added. “I think both Ginger and I saw this as an opportunity to create our own business that will work with our family. We can take Fridays off and go camping together.
At Niner I was the original Fort Collins employee. It was a lot of work—70-80-hour weeks, so I’ve got an understanding of what it takes to start a company from the beginning,” Brett said. “The key is that we captured a market that was emerging,” said Ginger. “We were able to see, like Niner in the 29-inch wheels, that the market timing was just right when we launched with TrailCraft. Now, the market is really taking notice. “We’ve gone from focusing solely on little kids to 9-14 year olds with our 27” bike and now an even bigger bike designed for smaller women.” “We have fun playful bikes for anyone who’s under 5”6’,” Brett said. What would the Rosenbauers recommend for budding entrepreneurs? Go to the SBDC, Ginger says.
“It is so amazing to me the level of professional advice and it’s free, it just blows my mind.”