Next in our (somewhat delayed) series of interviews from the Jimdo USA launch party, meet Brent Thomas, chief bike reflector!
Tell us about your experience at the Jimdo launch party.
First off, I had a really good time at the launch party. You guys were gracious enough to invite me and enjoy the party (good food with even better butter, Christian). It was nice to meet a few of the folks that are behind the scenes that make my business possible. And of course to show off my wares...
What were some of the reactions that attendees had to your bike wrapper product?
The reactions were very similar to most folks that see BikeWrappers for the first time. They start with a look of curiosity and intrigue. This usually leads to the question, "What exactly are BikeWrappers?", which is a very normal reaction since there is nothing else out there like it and is a brand new cycling product on the market. As soon as I give my quick little pitch, there is a moment when it clicks for them and they say, "Ah, that is a great idea..."(or hopefully something to that effect). Once they now know what the product actually is and because it is such a visual product, I make sure to show the product on a bike(thanks for the models, BTW) and it makes even more sense for them as they see how it is actually used. Lastly, it is usually a video of the product in use really makes it click. It is tough to visually show reflective properties in a lit environment so any video of them being used usually gets the reaction, "Wow, those are really bright". The folks at the party were very receptive to the BikeWrappers and since it was a very diverse crowd there, have several BikeWrappers that went back home to their respective countries in Europe. So thanks to the Jimdo party-goers!
How long have you been running Bike Wrappers and how has your business evolved over time. How has Jimdo shaped its evolution?
I have been running BikeWrappers on Jimdo for a little less than a year. I actually started with a Flash based website builder, which I quickly left for a variety of reasons. After doing a lot more research and several very good referrals for Jimdo, I started up Jimdo and have been happy ever since. I am by no means very technically proficient person. I have somehow come to be the go-to computer guy for my folks whenever they have a computer problem, but that is pretty much the extent of it. So knowing this, Jimdo is extremely easy to use, customize, manage, and had all the features on my checklist of things I needed for the site. Not only that, but their customer service has been great and was nice to meet Powen in person after all of his help. As far as the evolution of BikeWrappers and Jimdo, one of the biggest and best features that I use is the inventory management feature. I initially started off just selling online and then grew into selling into retail shops(and expanded the product line and variety) so have really relied on this feature to run the business.
San Francisco is definitely known for its share of bicyclists. What tips, whether safety or otherwise, would you like to share for keeping the streets safe and friendly for all?
You can say that again, SF definitely has a great bike culture. Well, first off I would say to be a very defensive cyclist. Assume that most cars and people don't actually see you and bike accordingly. One thing for certain is that when a bike goes against a 4000 lb.vehicle (~1800 kg for you European folks)...the car always wins. Next, I would of course recommend that cyclists make sure they are seen. Have some good lights on the front and back of your bike....and have a set of BikeWrappers. What kind of business owner would I be if I didn't give a shameless little plug for the product here... Also, when it is rainy or wet, slow the biking down a notch. It takes longer to brake, roads are slicker, motorists don't have as good of visibility, AND watch out for those MUNI tracks.
You're working on a similar product for dogs, too? What can you tell me about Dog Wrappers and the reason behind creating this product?
Yep, DogWrappers are the second product line that I have come out with. They are reflective leashes and collars for the pooch and the inspiration behind DogWrappers is pretty simple... I am a dog lover and have had one or two consistently for a good portion of my life. After launching BikeWrappers, I had heard that there are an estimated 1 million dogs hit by cars every year in the US and that is pretty much all it took. I wanted to make a product that would help make our four-legged friends safer and would fit into the 'Wrapping' brand and just like that DogWrappers was born...
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