Richard Lang of Spoked tells us how they help people become their fitter, faster and stronger on their bikes.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Spoke.
Richard Lang: I’m the Founder of Spoked, a technology company that brings personalized coaching to every cyclist. The idea for Spoked was sparked back in 2016. I’d recently retired from semi-professional cycling and was working as a coach whilst building a business cycling community. I was meeting lots of cyclists who wanted to improve on the bike but couldn’t justify spending £100+ for a professional coach. That’s when we had the idea to build an online app to bring personalized coaching to every cyclist. This technology can also be leveraged by businesses within their products.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Richard Lang: Not sure if it’s a habit, but rather an approach for how we work at Spoked. Building a startup, there are a million and one things you could do each day. The key is to identify what’s going to move the needle. So, the team and I approach our work by splitting it into three categories: our to-do’s, meetings, and emails.
Our to-do’s are our top priority. These are the tasks that are going to move the needle. Meetings are about facilitating these to-do’s. Then emails, which I mainly deal with, in reality, are other people’s to-do’s. Of course, you need to respect people’s time, but you can’t spend all day in your emails otherwise you might not get the right things done.
How does Spoked market its product/services online?
Richard Lang: We have three online focuses: social to connect with our audience (for example how to think about your goals), blogs to help level up the audience’s knowledge around cycling (for example how you should build your winter training plan) and partnerships. It’s the combination of these three focuses that allows us to be present amongst a very competitive market.
At times, it can feel tough staying on top of it all, but we’re able to repurpose a lot of the content. You need to remember, that just because you tweet something, doesn’t mean every person in your audience sees it. Plus, when you repurpose content, you need to think about the platform you’re posting it to. For example, YouTube is all about establishing the hook in the first 15 seconds, while for Instagram, it’s 3 seconds. These are the types of areas we’re still experimenting with.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Richard Lang: We don’t use too many tools actually. For social, we design our content in Figma and post it to the platforms. Thinking about it, maybe we need a scheduler too. For blogs, we use Ahrefs to ensure we’re targeting the right keywords. And for partnerships, you can’t go past LinkedIn. It’s a great way to connect with people in your industry. Then to manage it all, we use Basecamp. There might be a better way of doing it, but I don’t want to get caught up monitoring the platform to manage the work. It needs to work for me.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Richard Lang: I think about what business I would want to work in and replicate that. I would want flexibility, ownership of my work, to be able to speak my mind and challenge current thinking, and to feel happy. We only have a small remote team, and with these values, written communication is important. When it comes to hiring, we look for attitude over skills. I am a big believer that skills can be learnt over time if you have the right attitude. I reflect on my own career and journey; riding a bike has nothing to do with running a business, but I’ve learned along the way.
How are you funding your growth?
Richard Lang: We’re backed by angel investors to help us grow Spoked, which allows us to approach the market in two ways: we support individual riders with their training through the app, and we partner with other health and fitness businesses to deliver added value by increasing their revenue and reducing their churn. This year is going to be exciting, as there are a number of new partnerships to be announced.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Richard Lang: I guess it all depends on how you compare us to the market. There are a number of products available that people can use to improve their fitness on the bike, but no one else has been able to develop the technology behind this in the way we do it.
How we can stay ahead is by staying close to our customers and not taking too much notice of the competition. I tend to get my inspiration from all industries, not only from the fitness industry.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Richard Lang: We have a great community in Discord, which you can join here, where people share their news. It doesn’t need to be about producing a new PB time, it might be completing a session you didn’t think you could. An inspirational story from the Spoked community is about David Thomas. He completed the Fred Whitton Challenge after recovering from a seizure and brain surgery to remove a tumor. Here is the social post celebrating his success. It was such an amazing effort and I am proud we could play a small role.
Your final thoughts?
Richard Lang: When you’re building your business, it’s okay to drop the ball on certain things provided you’re moving the needle in the right areas. Also, always talk with your customers. They’re a powerful motivator, they’re insightful and they’re the ones backing you at the end of the day.
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