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Pedal power turns health hobby into a viable business

Pedal power turns health hobby into a viable business
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Pedal power turns health hobby into a viable business
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Not many business ideas appeal equally to big corporates and students. But it’s a balancing act that our Croydon Business Centre client, Urban Smoothie Bikes, has managed to pull off with a quirky offering that is adding fruity fun to everything from team building days to freshers’ fairs.

Healthy engagement

Back in 2007, Murat Basaran was working on a community project for the NHS in Nottingham, when he hit on a great way to engage the local community in ideas for healthier living: “I’d heard about smoothie bikes – an idea that originated in the US, using peddle power to turn fruit into delicious smoothies that you can then drink. I had a bike customised and we took it out into the local community, and it proved an engaging way of getting the healthy living message across. There’s something about it that both kids and adults love, and it’s ideal for getting people talking about exercise and healthier diets.”

Such was Murat’s enthusiasm for the Smoothie Bike and its role as a fun, effective conversation-starter that he had a couple of bikes made and continued to hire them out on a hobby basis while he worked professionally in other roles. “It was a viable solution to learn how I could run a business around the bikes,” he recalls, “and my wife Angie would take bookings and do the accounts – it was all pretty low-key.”

But by 2013, the couple had moved to Croydon and it was clear the bikes could be a viable business prospect in their own right.  “In a nutshell: we are a health and wellbeing provider, specialising in fun and offering participants the chance to experience behavioural change on a micro level. That’s how we started and that’s what we’re offering now,” says Murat. “People were finding out about Urban Smoothie Bikes via my website and my wife Angie – now involved in the business herself – and we were riding the crest of a wave. There aren’t many smoothie bikes in the country, and we’re so easy to find via Google. That – and now by word of mouth – is how we get most of our business.”

Growing fast

The couple began working out of a double garage, then – as they built up an impressive roster of corporate clients including Vitality HSBC and British Airways – they found themselves with more bikes, a large team and considerable costs. “We realised it was time to scale back,” says Murat. “Today our turnover is smaller but our profit is bigger, and we’re enjoying ourselves. We’ve returned to just me and Angie as staff, building up an excellent team of really committed freelance events staff, who we use as and when we need them.  Our clients stick with us because they know we’re reliable, reputable, enthusiastic and keen to meet their needs.  We’re on duty 24/7 but that’s the nature of running your own business. Ironically, when so many businesses start local and aim to grow nationally, we’re looking to work the other way round: we’re keen to get as much local business as possible. But, with few smoothie-bike companies out there and their popularity at regional events like university freshers’ fairs, we go where the work is.”

Good support

Urban Smoothie Bikes moved into Capital Business Centre in August of this year: “Capital Space’s reputation meant we’d considered it as our base before, but no room was then available. When a unit came up, and with our lease elsewhere coming to an end, we snapped it up. So far, we’ve found the reception staff really helpful and the ease of access and parking a boon. It’s also good to be surrounded by other businesses: we can discuss common problems with one another – it serves as a sort of informal mentoring – and you don’t feel isolated.”

Plans for the future

“We currently have 40 bikes, though only about 20 are operational at the moment – the others can be branded if our clients want, and I’ve also taken out a patent to customise the bikes to produce juice rather than smoothies, so they’ll have a pulping action rather than a blending one.”
And what has Murat learned from his cycling journey thus far? “If you have your own business, you’re going to make mistakes. The trick is to be solutions focused and to be confident that, though it may take time and you may need someone to help you, you will find that solution.”

There’s a business mantra that turnover is vanity, profit is sanity. Urban Smoothie Bikes have learnt that, but put the lesson to good use in developing a successful, viable business that brings pleasure to them and their customers.

To find out how  Capital Space virtual  offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667