One Year Down at Fully Charged Silverstone
Tristan talks about his experience setting up Fully Charged Silverstone in the Covid era.
Since the eBike visionaries began their work, the world has changed beyond recognition.
Today, fossil fuel giants have invested in sustainable energy; internal combustion engines are on the way out; and plant-based nutrition is mainstream. In 1993, when Riese and Müller formed, these trends were signalled but not yet trends.
In 2011, Moustache Bicycles began a similar direction and in 2014, when Fully Charged Founder Ben Jaconelli opened his first store, the market was definitely not aware of the change about to come.
Signals of change
The last five years have seen much positive development in personal mobility and the cycling market as a whole but, in the eBike segment in particular, more and more people are thinking differently about their transport choices.
As a reader of trends, my company room44 Ltd is in the business of helping clients to anticipate how they must evolve to meet customer need as markets change.
This led me to think long and hard about our own future.
The signs of change around mobility may have been faint but they were persistent and so we decided to diversify into the eBike market - somehow. In Q1 2019, I didn’t know how we’d enter the arena, but I made it a personal project.
What followed was the outcome of research, learning, determination and a little bit of serendipity.
At the inaugural eBike Summit in April 2019, I listened to industry speakers wax lyrical about their products and missions. Everyone told a story of growth and development albeit, for some brands, from a fairly small business base.
Established analogue bike brands presented their electric options and even light van alternatives were peeking into the market with cycle-lane ready options.
It was here that things started to happen. I bumped into a chap who had presented the Fully Charged mission and, looking back, our fate was sealed.
Dan Parsons is a well-known figure in the eBike industry and our first meeting, while tentative, opened the door to a fast-moving conversation that resulted in room44 and Fully Charged agreeing terms to open a new outlet under the Fully Charged brand.
As room44 was established in Silverstone, we are far enough away from Fully Charged’s home ground of London Bridge to avoid direct competition, and close enough to make logistics work.
And so began work to find premises, to develop a different offering to established bike shops in the area, and to justify the investment required for these things to come together.
After many twists and turns, we took the keys to Fully Charged Silverstone on 20th February 2020; ten months after our first meeting and exactly one month before Lockdown #1.
2020 – a year of change
One of the advantages of walking into a new situation is that, whatever the normal hurdles to success, they’re not obvious to the uninitiated – so we just got on with it. To prepare for our opening, Fully Charged Silverstone arranged to help the Energy Saving Trust to promote its 2020 eCargo grant initiative and we hosted a demo day at Silverstone. Although it snowed, we were able to provide bikes for local authority representatives to ride and understand. From this very early initiative, sales resulted in October of the same year and we understood that the cycle for B2B sales can be longer than expected.
Through lockdown, we learnt how the eBike market works. Being able to jump into systems developed by Fully Charged over years of trading gave us a headstart, and working with industry experts like Ben and Dan has allowed us to learn our product, understand how to meet consumer needs and, importantly, to maintain supply through a period when this has been an issue for many eBike outlets.
Establishing a customer offering that deviates from the norm has also helped. Silverstone offers visitors a different experience to the high street.
Choosing the location was, for us, an easy decision. Silverstone Park is exactly mid-way between Oxford and Cambridge, which represents the UK’s Growth Arc and is the focus of huge planned investment in the coming years. We offer traffic-free test-ride space and, while we don’t have any hills where eBikes excel, we do have acres of available space for new cyclists to gain their confidence.
Silverstone is also within easy reach of population centres like Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Warwick, Coventry, Northampton and Bedford and, of course, it is best known for being the home of British motorsport, so has a brand cachet of its own.
For all of these reasons, the decision to set up at Silverstone was a sound one. Another reason is that Fully Charged Silverstone is on its own crusade to make eCargo bikes a feature of the local landscape.
Our proximity to Milton Keynes and its dedicated cycle path network (the Redways) offers us the opportunity to fully exploit eCargo bikes and to raise awareness of the sustainable opportunity they offer to businesses. Picking a market niche is important in any business and we’ve created an assembly facility at Silverstone that can provide rapid turnaround of eBikes and eCargo bikes from delivery into fully PDId and delivered bikes. In most cases, we receive and deliver within 24 hours (the attached photos illustrate this capability).
2020 has been a year of unexpected challenge and growth.
Fully Charged Silverstone hit the ground running and we’ve continued to run faster and faster to meet customer demand and to create a better experience than the high street can offer.
Word of our exclusive focus on eBikes and eCargo bikes is spreading and our suppliers also recognise us as a useful and important outlet for the range of brands that Fully Charged has carefully curated.
2021 will bring its own challenges but, with our continued determination to provide the very best customer experience, an attention to after-sales that can’t be faulted and our close relationship with the team at Fully Charged HQ, it promises to be a rewarding second year.
With a special note of thanks to our supporting brands and partners: Bosch eBike Systems, Gocycle, Moustache, Riese and Muller, and Tern (Moore Large), as well as MEPC Silverstone Park.
2225 Silverstone Park