Passion often leads to entrepreneurship. Leaving the comfort of Amazon is another proof of courage. Creating one’s brand, one’s online store and moving to the other side of e-commerce is another. Jolanta Czuba launched her brand Ride More Protection and tells us about the genesis of her company.
Photo: Jolanta Czuba’s long-term mission is to make more space for women in the extreme sports / Credits © Sabino Parente
Tell us about Ride More Protection.
We are a new brand of sports gear, focused on bike, BMX and scooter. The heart of the brand is in the skatepark, so inspirations for the products are coming directly from Peitruss, Hollerich, Zuppermarket and other local riding spots. Ride More Protection is built on the idea that injuries are just a waste of time, so we help avoiding them and maximize the time you spend outside on riding. We want to promote outdoor activities through the products that are well designed, technically reliable and cool. Wear protection and ride more!
How did you come up with the idea?
After a few years of living in Luxembourg I got introduced to the local BMX community. They are amazing people with a lot of passion for riding. They were also my first guides into the BMX world, explained all the basics and invited me to a BMX jam. I always enjoyed sports but this was another level of the sport experience.
Since I had relatively low riding skills and a lot of fear of falling down – the first thing I looked into was the protection. It was all big, black and bulky; because of it some riders don’t want to wear it at all. When talking to BMX girls I have also discovered that most of the protectors are designed for men, even riding vests and gloves. This was the first time when I thought that someone should change this.
Analysis is part of my DNA, so calculations started immediately… but back then I was still working in Amazon and genuinely liked my job. This way the first business case of Ride More Protection was done just for fun, to check if it would make any sense at all. But the longer I was looking into the topic, learning about the extreme sports and talking to people who do it – the more evidence I got that this crazy idea of snug and stylish protectors may actually work.
In the end of 2019 I took a risk, quit my job, and together with a BMX rider Ákos Bartolits we opened Ride More Protection. As a step one – we will bring more colours to the skatepark, and make protection cool. My personal long-term mission is to make more space for women in the extreme sports.
What are your products?
We are building a portfolio of riding gear and protectors for bike, BMX, skateboard and scooter riders. This will include gloves, knee and elbow pads, wrist protectors and vest.
Our first product was launched end of the summer – RideMore gloves for bike and scooter, very popular among professional and also causal riders. In the upcoming days we release a special gift set for Christmas – skate socks and riding gloves, in the Ultimate Riders Package, as well as BMX 2021 planners.
Selection is still small, due to corona we had to delay the launch of the protective pads. We are eagerly looking forward to December, when our first hard-shell protection models for scooter and skateboard will be available in Luxembourg.
“We are expanding to US’ online market next year and also plan to increase our presence offline, in local Luxembourgish bike shops.”
Who are your clients?
In the beginning they were almost exclusively professional BMX riders and scooter riders, people who double down on the performance and have very specific requirements when it comes to the riding gear. The great thing about them is that they are extremely open, they ride scooter or BMX, but during the weekend they hang out on the regular bikes, and from time to time they go for an MTB or downhill session. These people spread the news about our brand among their friends and gave us the feedback that our products are appreciated by MTB riders as well as “normal” bikers, who cycle to work or do a quick round on a bike on Sunday afternoon.
Hopefully soon our group of clients expands to one very important segment – kids. We have designed six-pack protectors for kids who ride skateboard or roller blades. We cannot wait to start working with the youngest generation of riders and skaters.
What is your business model?
The answer is short: lean and agile! We officially launched the business in Jan’20 just before the pandemic and first lockdowns.
According to the original assumptions we wanted to produce in the world’s best factories together with the top sport brands, and build a buzz around the brand offline, through our participation in the sports championships and events. Two weeks into the lockdown and it was clear that the world will not continue the way we knew it. Corona gave us a big challenge – how to build a sports brand, when all sports events are cancelled, online marketing budget is limited and production resources are scarce. We have started reaching out to smaller but local factories, to bring production closer to home and enable shorter and faster production cycles.
We have put all efforts into setting up our online presence – not only through our own website, but also through marketplaces and social media. It was also a great opportunity to connect online with our customers and potential customers, mostly through Instagram and Facebook – we have received a lot of support and valuable insights this way.
We are expanding to US’ online market next year and also plan to increase our presence offline, in local Luxembourgish bike shops.
There are also exciting product innovations in the pipeline. Corona has changed our business optics, and while we still hope for bike and scooter events in 2021, we realized that practising sport in the skateparks and bike parks may not always be an option. This led us to the idea of “skatepark in your backpack”– a portable training equipment that would allow you to practise bike/scooter tricks wherever you go. As soon as the prototype is ready, we will reach out to the riders to support this idea through Kickstarter.
The other big topic that we are currently working on is sustainability – we want to reduce the amount of low quality, non-recyclable plastic required by online marketplaces for our packaging, and bring production closer to Luxembourg to reduce carbon footprint related to transportation. As a brand we encourage our customers to spend their time outdoors, so it is our obligation to take care of the environment and reduce all possible pollution to a minimum.