Karen Wood, Co-Founder of Kidvelo, is turning her passion for getting children as young as 18-months-old to ride bikes into a successful business… twice!
Quitting corporate life in 2009, having discovered "balance bikes" for my own children, I started up a business retailing kids' balance bikes from around my kitchen table. Making a huge success of it and a name for myself in the industry, in 2014 I was offered a balance bike exclusive distribution contract for the UK. Never happy to keep just doing the comfortable option, at the start of 2020, I pushed myself further, cancelled my bike distribution contract (and income) and started up a new manufacturing business, Kidvelo Bikes, to pull on my years of expertise and produce the perfect kids' bike range.
An early adopter of balance bikes in 2009, to help my children learn to ride, I quit my role as a Business Development Manager for a Medical Company to start selling balance bikes from my kitchen table in 2010. Never one to shy from a challenge, after all, I drove a double-decker bus across Africa and a truck around S. America, I quit the high flying career for a chance to put my gut instincts to the test. I knew I could make a business out of these strange looking bikes with no pedals.
As a result of hard work and my company's growth, in 2014, I was offered the Distribution contract for the UK for Strider Bikes, an American company.
With a container of bikes in production, a sharp learning curve commenced. Importing, container shipping and regulations around selling kids' bikes was all new and presented many challenges. However, in just five years, the brand became one of the most recognised brand names in the kids' cycling industry, and my company grew to a 7 figure turnover per annum with award-winning customer service.
My passion was always to inspire kids and families to get out onto bikes and enjoy the outdoors. I launched a balance bike race series, which included racing 2-year-olds over the finish line of the Tour of Britain, where they shared the podium with world-class cyclists and the first-ever Downhill Balance bike race. I have supported thousands of children in schools whose cycling instructors used our cycling lesson plans and bikes. I even persuaded my husband to quit his career and join me in 2015 to take over logistics. I couldn't continue doing everything myself when we were selling hundreds of bikes a week.
However, I knew we could improve on the bikes we sold; having spent years talking to parents and watching kids ride, we made a brave move to start up again. Kidvelo was born.
Run your numbers, be reasonable with your expectations!