Chapter One (Begins Friday)

September 10, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTE: All photos taken by the author on various versions (starting with 1) of an iphone.

How I Got Mixed Up in this Business in the First Place

It was gray and foggy in the Financial District.

“Weird. Kleenex boxes in all of the meeting rooms?” I wondered as I traversed the maze of cubicles. It was the recession and within a few hours, hundreds of us would be laid off.

Meanwhile, it was bright and sunny in the Mission District. Zack Rosen, Matt Cheney, and a group of their friends were building a company unlike any other. It could have been a coincidence, but the timing was curious.  

I wandered into this new shop that still smelled of fresh paint and had a chat with Zack. We talked about his vision and on my way out I snapped this photo of him putting the logo in the window (above).

I thought for sure I’d escaped the bike industry forever and I really wasn’t interested in looking back. Here’s why:

  • City bikes (hybrids) are designed 2 years in advance by people who do not ride bikes in cities.
  • Shop owners must leave their shops during peak selling season and travel to Las Vegas to order next year’s bikes.
  • The bikes arrive in random spurts (usually in broken size runs) instead of when you actually need them.
  • The bills come due whether you’ve sold the bikes or not.
  • The margins are terrible and the shops are left with dead stock of last year’s models that have to be discounted.

3 years of this madness go by and I decided to sell my shop. Give me a desk job, health insurance and a steady paycheck.

After a decade of hard time, out come the Kleenex boxes.

 

 

Getting Back in the Saddle

Matt and Zack were turning the process of designing, buying, and building city bikes upside down.

They were doing something that had never been done. The instant you visited missionbicycle.com or stepped foot into the store you could feel something was different. Is there a solution here to this broken industry?

What if we applied tech startup design thinking to the way urban bikes are sold? Ok. Maybe I can help these guys out. Maybe I can be a part of the solution. Maybe I’ll give them a year or two. Tops.

8 Years Later...

Ok. Well, that wasn’t exactly easy. It took nearly 8 years of iterations and experimentations to get us to the next level. An 8 year overture.

Our foundation has cured. We have streamlined our process, we have the strongest most functional team I’ve ever worked with. And our new bike, the Lyra, has gone into production.

I finally feel that I can hand over the helm.

This still isn’t an easy business but the roughest waters are behind us. We have seen many bike companies come and go over the last 8 years. I’ve seen a lot of progress - mostly driven from rogue companies like Mission, Spurcycle, RevolightsPublic, Faraday and Brilliant (to name only a few). We continue to reject status quo.

What’s Next For Mission

Josh Philippi (pictured below, left) is going to take over my position officially this Friday. He is the hardest working, goodest natured, and levelest headed person I know. Josh is our Production Manager and is already used to running about half of the company. 

Our new bike, the Lyra is currently in production. Officially we launch in January 2018 but for our email subscribers and Missionaries, we are on schedule for a soft launch in November. We’ve spent 2 years quietly working on this design.

In my career, I’ve never been more proud of any single project. This bike with integrated lighting is going to be a game changer for our company and the industry. It’s beautiful.

 

What’s Next For Me

Now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (it’s a Lyra!), I’m ready for a new challenge. I’m headed to a company that is remarkably similar to Mission Bicycle Company: Ritual Coffee Roasters.

Both companies were born on the same street just a few blocks from each other with a similar goal: to revolutionize the way we think about the status quo of our industries. Both companies are forward thinking and fiercely independent. They are guided with integrity from their founders and are fueled with passion.

Thank you.

Saying goodbye on Friday will be harder than you know. My heart is full of gratitude to people who have followed us, liked us, retweeted us, and most of all, for the thousands of people, all over the world, that start every day on a Mission.

 - Jefferson