I started this not as a business, but as a way to pay race entry fees. It was early 2002 and I imported 50 carbon seat posts from Taiwan and sold them out of my trunk at races. Before long some would ask if I had a matching stem or bottle cages. The answer was unfortunately no, I only had enough cash to purchase the 50 posts and I was putting the proceeds towards racing.
Jump ahead a few months and I'd imported some carbon bottle cages to sell along side the seat posts by skipping races and putting all the proceeds towards buying more stock. I did this without much thought of expansion for the next 15 months, into late summer 2004. As luck would have it I lost my job in October 2004. I was sitting in the interview room at the job I was hoping to get, thinking about how fun selling bike components was and not wanting to wear a suit anymore. In a move that unknowingly would set the tone for the next 13 years, I stood up and walked out of the interview.
When I got home and told my wife what I had done, rather than get mad, she just said that she knew this was what I wanted to do.
With no formal business training or rich friends and family to borrow money from, I set out to save as much as I could to put back into the business. I converted a spare bedroom and turned it into my office, stockroom and fulfillment center. I researched what cycling trends were gaining popularity and tried to move into those markets as early as possible. I partnered with several well known component manufacturers in both the USA & Taiwan. I came out with my first ceramic bottom bracket in 2004, years before they gained any real marketplace acceptance. I laugh to myself now at how many companies offer ceramic bearings. When I sold my first, there were only 4 other companies, now it seems there are 4 new companies a week selling ceramic bearings.
I've tried to think of unique items that others have over-looked. For example, my one-piece headset spacers. Many companies will have the standard 5, 10, 20 and maybe 40mm spacers, but I took it a step further and made 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50mm spacers. Why? I once tracked a creaking handlebar down to a 20mm and 10mm spacer stacked together. It drove me nuts until I finally figured out it was the spacers. Problem Solved!
My stems, I sought out to make lightweight, pretty and affordable stems to rival the big brands. I offer two types, a heavy, strong, whopper of a stem (the TEAM stem) and a lightweight (but not so lightweight to have a weight limit) PRO stem.
Similarly my carbon seat posts are pretty to look at, yet affordable. Light enough to show up on a 6.8 kg bike but strong enough to not have to worry.
At times I've hired extra help when needed, but for the most part I've been a one man operation. I am VERY HAPPY to say that I have teamed up with some great companies and will be offering MADE IN THE USA products to celebrate our 15th Anniversary!
Matt Speer (Owner & Founder)