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founders fabulous friday five favourites

first things first, as karla de vito said to meatloaf, "stop right there... before we go any further." (Go to 5 min 54 and turn up the volume  ""). following a coffee cup incident with my son, my caps lock key is broken so there will be no capitals in this article. whilst clearly that is going to annoy the crap out of anyone unfortunate enough to read this, as bruce hornsby says, "that's just the way it is", as i am a yorkshireman and i am too tight and too lazy to buy a new keyboard. so i suggest for your sanity you stop reading now.

anyway, lack of caps lock excepted, what on earth am i doing right here writing this and why? this all started three weeks ago when, in one of our seemingly endless sales meetings, i bemoaned a certain loss of spirit and engagement with our customers, something along the lines of, "not like the old days when me and brant used to do a lot better, plus the fact i'm bored senseless by our endless, spiritless newsletters. it seems like we're losing our soul." to which, after looking at a few blank faces, i then volunteered with a typical spectrum-based founders reaction, "ok i'll do it my bloody self."

three weeks have passed and of course, being quite a critic of people who stick their arm in the air only to capitulate and fail to deliver, i really have no option but to make a token effort on my promise to try and give a bit of soul and insight into what is going on at planet x.

so without further adieu, i reckon i can manage a weekly & founders-fabulous-friday-five-favourites where i hope to give something more to our newsletter customers than a continual dirge of the countries finest products / spam, depending on your viewpoint.


given it is now sunday and i am two and a half weeks late, this weeks effort will probably go out on monday. so heres my sunday night top five of things you probably didn't know, didn't need to know, and don't want to know about.


1. 25 years and counting - never done a days work!

by my reckoning it's now 25 years since i started a bicycle business by importing triathlon parts from america. what's interesting is i have never actually had a job, excluding two weeks at british steel during a summer holiday, descaling pipes in an underground tunnel using compressed air guns, under the tutelage of the acid tongued foreman who introduced himself with the classic, "I'm harry the bastard, just don't cross me and tha'll do alreet, youth."

as the saying goes, if you make your passion your job you'll never do a days work. some 25 years on and i'm yet to do that days work. i have to say i am indeed very lucky and there is not a day goes by when i don't remember that.

so roll on the next 25 - i do appreciate all our customers, their enthusiasm and support.


2. not sure if anyone is interested in my weekly routine, but just in case, here it is:

  • moving things around relentlessly in our warehouse getting ready for our clearance sale which starts this weekend. items include team bikes / returns / seconds. come and see me for some great bargains plus there's 4 for £20 on Moozes clothing.
  • testing our new titanium road disc bike designed by mark reilly
  • running a lot - 12 hill reps back of endcliffe park cafe; 1 hour treadmill speed session; 2 by 80 minute steady run home from work; 90 minute endurance, 60 minute fartlek on froggatt edge/white edge.
  • trying to avoid biscuits.
  • attending three "range plan" meetings and trying to concentrate for more than 45 minutes.


3. 25 years and counting and 50 next year.

It's a big year next year - i turn 50. it is almost 30 years since my first triathlon and 25 years since my one and only ironman-distance race - the 220 marathon triathlon in 1990.

why has it been 25 years? you might ask. well, the truth is, i didn't intend to stop, i just met a girl, fell crazy in love, stopped training and racing, got extremely busy building a business, settled down, had kids and then boom! 25 years have passed and i have three extra notches on my belt and the lung capacity and speed of a tortoise. now, thinking back, i only actually entered that 220 triathlon because the entry fee was £2.20 and being a tight yorkshireman that was impossible to pass up.


anyway, going back to point 2. the eagle eyed may have noticed the combination of 6 runs plus the lack of biscuits. i am going to make an effort in my first decent winter training in 25 years to see if i can recapture any of that form from 25 years ago in the hope to have a another go at one of the ironman-distance races next season. still checking entry fees, but looks like £2.20 entry fees are long gone.


4. arguing about google and losing the battle.

there is an article in todays sunday times by entrepreneur, luke johnson. i have to say, it is 100% exactly as i see it and it somewhat strengthens my resolve in my ongoing battle with our current management and sales teams. it's a losing battle right now and i am resigned to defeat.

given we are effectively an e-commerce business, most so-called experts are usually surprised that we have never really advertised, never done google adword campaigns, never done 'pay per click', and never paid affiliates their referral fees. that was until very recently and i am intensely proud to have done it my way over the past 25 years. but my current management and sales team are pushing very hard to open up these avenues and expand our customer base. it's not something i'm happy with. the internal feeling is that i am a founder holding the company back and if everyone else is doing it then we have to be doing it. my belief is typically myopic, black and white, and i rail against joining the ranks of our competitors who play on the bandwagon with the "silicon valley robber barons", as described by luke johnson. for sure, a founders will cannot and should not always win at planet x, but i read that article closely today and it is an honest and clearcut analysis that cuts right to the heart of a key issue - read it if you can. here are some hard hitting snippets

"to a large degree, tech behemoths such as google, uber, apple and facebook add minimal value to our economy. they make vast profits here, employ paltry numbers relative to the toll they take, act as free riders on existing companies and infrastructure and go to great lengths to avoid paying taxes. they take pains to disguise their profiteering by dressing their accounts with charges and transfers while they hollow out our society. that enormous sucking sound you hear is our cash being vacuumed up and transferred to tax havens by the tech billionaires."

"the tendency of digital interlopers to insert themselves into industries, disrupting the status quo and levying enormous costs for their computer technology."

"this trend might suit the the silicon valley elite, but it does britain only harm. here it leads to net job losses, a diminishing tax base."

"of course if anyone objects to this booming tide of tech they are seen as old fashioned."


5. finally, i love lights.

if there's one product category in our business i absolutely love buying it is lights.

for those of us that remember the first 'wonder lights', the leaps and bounds made in recent years of light technology has been staggering.

furthermore, as a mail-order product, they are the perfect item - easy to send out and deliver. Compare the packing effort of a handlebar to a boxed light and my years on a packing bench mean every time we buy and sell lights i get a little glint in my eye.

we are now importing retina busting, market leading lights by magicshine, a hugely improved ferei light range, plus the classics from smart and niterider.

here's a very special 'founders discount code' for all lights - use it until friday to save a few quid "uklight10" 


that’s all for this week.

23 November 2015

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