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From The Top

Welcome to From the Top - a podcast about the founders, the innovators, and the remarkable people in the cycling industry and the stories about the icons they've created.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Building Skratch Labs

So many of the businesses we’ve discovered in this show have been ‘happy accidents’ so to speak, and Scratch Labs embodies that very same organic build and hustling spirit. Founded by two longtime friends, Allan Lim and Ian McGregor as both were sidelined from the sport, they both described themselves as  initially too ‘lazy’ to actually sell their ‘secret drink mix’ they were making for pro cycling teams at the time. But as one thing led to another, they found themselves in their kitchens making their products, mixing drink powders in paint shakers, and throwing pizza and beer parties with their friends to fulfil orders. In an absolutely crowded market of nutritional products, these two, with no business experience were able to work their way to become one of the biggest little brands in the sports nutrition world.

1hr

9 Jul 2020

Rank #1

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Building SRAM

SRAM is credited with having three co-founders, but Stan Day is the man who planted the seed. And you could very well are argue he’s where the brand’s culture and values stem from. At least that’s what I got out of speaking with him in this episode while listening to his polite, humble and understated approach when sharing his story. SRAM all started with Stan taking on a triathlon challenge back in the 80’s and thinking that there has to be a better way than this whole down-tube shifting method. Twist-shift was his answer and he was able to convince a few friends to leave their good jobs, move across the country and start a business in Chicago and sell their better way. But as successful as the company is now, it certainly didn’t start out that way. If it weren’t for one pivotal moment, SRAM might have been only a side-note in our cycling history books.

1hr 39mins

22 Jun 2020

Rank #2

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Building Silca

Josh Poertner isn’t your typical cycling industry personality. In fact, he’s not your typical anything. He’s one of those people that when you meet him, you’re taken back by a man who is filled with enthusiasm, curiosity, positive energy, and intelligence that really makes him stand out from most human beings. These days, you may associate Josh’s name as the man who reinvented Silca, the Italian tyre pump brand founded over a hundred years ago. But as with most of these stories, it was far from a straight path, and anything but easy. He started as a keen and talented cyclist, who later became a brilliant engineer who got his feet wet in motorsport and later went on to be an enormous influence in making the Zipp wheel brand what it is today. Josh’s story is nowhere close to being finished and dare I say we’ll see so much more from him and Silca in the next decade and more. Josh is a fairly regular guest on our weekly show and nerd alert podcasts, so check back regularly to get his clever insights, and to keep up with what he’s doing. Also, don’t forget to support Josh by going to Silca.cc when thinking about a new pump, a set of alenkeys,  a titanium anodised drinking straw if that’s your thing, or whatever he’s cooking up next. 

1hr 42mins

9 Jun 2020

Rank #3

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Building Zipp Wheels

Zipp is an indisputable icon in the wheel business and they have a long history of innovation. They were one of the very first brands who though about wheels differently and pushed the envelope to what wheels are now today. An engineer by the name of Leigh Sargent is the founder of Zipp way back in the late 80’s, but it’s a gentleman by the name of Andy Ording who was Leigh’s first employee, bought the company outright in its early days, and built Zipp during its formative years.  Zipp now belongs to SRAM and its family of products and continues its legacy of innovation, but the origins of this pioneering brand started over 30 years earlier.

1hr 36mins

25 May 2020

Rank #4

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Building Wahoo Fitness

Most businesses we've spoken to so far have had relatively straightforward journey, but Wahoo Fitness is not one of those who fit that mould. Chip Hawkins is the company’s founder and believe it or not, the Wahoo business started off in, well you’ll probably never guess it….boat docks. That’s right, floating boat docks. But it was a good business with interesting problems that Chip loved to solve.    Chip is an engineer, and entrepreneur, a tinkerer, and most importantly someone who loves to throw himself neck deep in fixing problems to make something better - and and it usually starts, only himself and his own needs.   Chip’s story is one that proves that if you see a problem and you care enough to solve it for yourself and maybe a few friends, there’s likely a market out there for a business to take shape. And as Chip points out and believes, the most important thing is that you have to try.

1hr 27mins

19 May 2020

Rank #5

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Building Strava

Strava has become ubiquitous in over 50 million athlete’s lives and is arguably the most relevant social network to anyone who loves to sweat. Michael Horvath and Mark Gainey are the co-founders of Strava who have been lifelong friends who quite literally changed how we interact with our cycling in both real life and with each other online. The reason I was so interested in hearing Michael and Mark’s story was not only because they’ve created an amazing brand and product that most of us use, but the went about it in a very different way than most of the companies you’ll near in this podcast. Creating Strava wasn’t their first trip to the rodeo. Were experienced successful knowledgable entrepenuaers, they made some very deliberate decisions early on about the foundations of the company that have taken Strava to where it is today, and into the next 20 years. But there are many similarities too. It started from nothing but a single idea and only passion fuelling the fire, and as you’ll discover, creating Strava hasn’t been the straightforward journey that you might think about when you log on every day. A full transcript of this interview can be found at:  https://cyclingtips.com/2020/05/from-the-top-building-strava/

1hr 25mins

7 May 2020

Rank #6

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Building Canyon Bikes

In this latest episode of From the Top, I'm thrilled to give you an exclusive first look at the remarkable story of how Roman Arnold founded and built Canyon Bikes to where it is today. Listen to the remarkable story of how Roman started cycling as a way of competing for recognition and approval from his father amongst his three brothers. He started from humble beginnings, got his hands dirty, educated himself, and grew Canyon to be one of the largest cycling brands in the world.

1hr 7mins

22 Apr 2020

Rank #7

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Building The Sufferfest

In this episode I speak to The Sufferfest founder David McQuillen about how he went from working in the Swiss Banking industry, to creating one of the largest indoor training platforms in his spare time and later selling the business to Wahoo Fitness.

1hr 3mins

6 Apr 2020

Rank #8

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The Story of Legendary Cycling Photographer Graham Watson

This week we continue our theme of individual icons within the sport. This time we speak to Graham watson, the most prolific cycling photographer in perhaps the world. Like other pioneers of their  professions, some might argue that it was easy back in the day and there were more opportunities. But everything is obvious in hindsight, and as you’ll soon hear from Graham, it was anything but easy. I’m a big believer that you make your own luck to open the next door, and that’s precisely what Graham did over the 5 decades he covered the sport. And whoever came up with the saying ‘nice guys finish last’ certainly hasn’t met Graham. Now, today’s episode is slightly longer than the rest because there’s no way I can do justice to Grahams remarkable 40 year career in an hour. So buckle up and get in for the ride with a man who has documented cyclings most historic moments.

1hr 45mins

3 Aug 2020

Rank #9

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Building Rapha

Rapha has been one of the most innovative, aspirational and disruptive businesses in cycling, and Simon Mottram is the mastermind behind the brand. Rapha began from a single concept: Mottram's feeling for road cycling, and how he wanted it portrayed. From a single jersey that wasn't even ready in time for the company launch, he built Rapha into the darling child of cycling brands. It inspired an entirely new market of 'micro apparel brands' and showed many others of the cycling industry the power of storytelling. Here's Mottram's story of how he started this remarkable business.

1hr 23mins

24 Mar 2020

Rank #10