In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and innovators working on our next generation of new business startups, social enterprises and small businesses.
At a glance
Founder: Frank Witowski
Business: Hybrid Bikes
Can you tell us a bit about your business?
Hybrid Bikes is a carbon fibre e-bike company based right here in Nelson, dedicated to designing bikes that are truly special. Our goal is to create bicycles that are not only lighter and stronger than other models, but also offer superior riding characteristics across a variety of categories, including cruisers, commuters, and hard trail riding.
By using carbon fibre as our material of choice, we are able to achieve these aims in a way that was previously impossible. In fact, we saw such potential in carbon fibre for e-bikes that we knew we had to take advantage of it. Our versatile frame design means that we can create a range of different styles using just one frame, including cruisers, commuters, racers, gravel bikes, and hard tail entry-level mountain bikes.
Thanks to this unique approach to frame design, our inventory is much easier to manage than that of other bike companies. But perhaps the most exciting thing about Hybrid Bikes is our commitment to customer engagement. We invite our customers to be part of the journey, allowing them to come to us and share their ideas about how they want their bike to look and which parts they’d like to include.
This collaborative approach is not only great for customers, who get to take ownership of their bikes in a way that few other companies allow, but also great for us, as we get to see first-hand the impact our products have on people’s lives. At Hybrid Bikes, we’re not just creating bikes—we’re creating experiences.
What’s the backstory for your business idea?
In 2016, after undergoing a cancer operation, I needed to get fit again. I decided an e-bike would be the perfect solution. While there were plenty available for $12,000+ I couldn’t justify spending that much when they weren’t quite right.
As a result, I decided to take matters into my own hands and design my own. Despite having no background in cycling, I conducted extensive research and consulted with bike shops to create a prototype. To my surprise it turned out to be so good that I began receiving requests from others who were impressed with its design.
This was a new journey, improving and refining the e-bike based on feedback from customers. We even added a new frame to the line, giving us the ability to offer low bar and high bar options. I am proud to say my e-bike has become a popular choice for those seeking high-quality, carbon fibre that is affordable and tailored to them.
What programmes, learning or mentoring have been of assistance so far?
After deciding to turn my e-bike prototype into a full-fledged business, I knew that I needed to take some additional steps to ensure success. Despite having already launched two startups prior to this, I recognised that this venture would be my most expensive and challenging one yet.
To increase my chances of success, I decided to enrol in another business course. This would provide me with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate the complex world of entrepreneurship, particularly in a new market. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to have a network of successful business people who were willing to offer me mentoring and advice.
I reached out to these individuals, and many of them were more than happy to share their experiences and insights with me. They pointed out key considerations that I would need to keep in mind as I launched my new business, such as the importance of market research and the need for a solid financial plan.
Thanks to these efforts, I was able to approach my e-bike business with greater confidence and preparedness. Today, I am proud to see how far we’ve come and am excited to continue growing and evolving in the years to come.