Brownlee Brothers BikeZaar NorthInvest

BikeZaar

BikeZaar, the UK’S largest online cycling marketplace, secured six-figure investment from Olympic gold medallists, triathletes-turned-NorthInvest-angel-investors Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee.

The e-commerce platform, founded by cycling enthusiast Kevin Griffiths, aims to support traditional bike specialists by utilising technology and savvy logistics to integrate brick and mortar stores with the online community. The marketplace allows customers to compare products from independent stores across the UK regardless of their geography and purchase online, with the order conveniently delivered to their door.

With cycling stretching far back into his family history, CEO Kevin Griffiths also understands the importance of having expert maintenance support and advice just around the corner. The online platform also allows customers to book in a bike fit, maintenance service and more from a local expert. 

What problem is BikeZaar solving?

The death of the high street is a well-documented phenomenon, with traditional brick and mortar stores – the lifeblood of the British high street – unable to compete with the convenience and cheap prices of online retailers. BikeZaar’s easy price comparison features and doorstop delivery helps traditional small-scale bike shops compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon on a more even playing field.

BikeZaar also provide owners with the digital skills needed to give them the confidence to transition and transact within an online e-commerce community and actively work to support grassroot independent bike shops.

CEO, Kevin Griffiths, explains: “We’re seeing a revolution in e-commerce thanks to companies like Amazon, Airbnb and Uber. Within 3 years it is predicted that 40 percent of all e-commerce will be via a marketplace due to an easy purchasing experience on the consumer side and cost-savings through economies of scale for retailers. With this investment, we can scale this model and make BikeZaar a truly global enterprise that reinvigorates high streets around the world.”

What was the funding used for?

“We had been developing this idea for a number of years, but when we set the wheels in motion last year we realised we were spending a lot more on the development of the site than we had first envisaged. We needed more money for things like marketing, and eventually we were put in contact with not-for-profit investment organisation NorthInvest, who connected us with the Brownlee brothers.

Who invested?

Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee felt that this business was a perfect fit for their investment given their interests and specific skill set. Indeed, the match was so positive that they have also agreed to be the face of the business moving forward with Alistair Brownlee joining as Non-Executive Director, as well as granting access to their image rights, as well as funding granted totalling six figures.

Of the partnership, Griffiths reflects: “BikeZaar is all about collaboration and we feel we’ve connected with experts who share our ethos and want to support local retailers by combining tradition and technology.

“We were delighted and grateful that they wanted to come on board and support us.We wanted people like the Brownlee brothers to come in and help us raise the profile of BikeZaar and what we are all about. It was also important to us that our investors were people who believed in us.

Several other NorthInvest angel investors contributed significant funding amounts to the venture as they agreed the ethos of Bikezaar and its ambitions in the digital space was a project they were keen to become involved with. They also felt that Kevin Griffiths, CEO and Founder of Bikezaar, had an interesting background which included both the cycling industry and the logistics space.

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