In today’s growing urban environment, we are seeing the growth of megacities around the world where population densities and pollution are becoming problematic. With population densities increasing, traffic becomes worse making driving a car, or even taking a public bus, inconvenient. Not only is the gridlock time consuming, but it also becomes mentally frustrating with the stress of stop-and-go traffic and wondering if you are going to make it on time. On top of that, the gridlock causes more pollution as cars idle, running their engine while waiting to move.
Josh Rasmussen was tired of sitting in traffic, dealing with the high cost of owning a car in a metropolis, and wanting to reduce emissions, so he started tinkering with electric bikes as a solution to his problem. His goal was to create a portable electric bike that would give him the independence of being able to get around town and have zero emissions while having fun. Josh went through various iterations of his design until he created a working model that accomplished his goal. After receiving a lot of inquiries about his bike, Josh founded Monday Motorbikes as a means for other people to use his bikes and enjoy the freedom he has. As CMO of Monday Motorbikes, he continues to push the innovation of the industry with new designs and performance improvements.
We connected with Josh to find more about his inspiration for MONDAY Motorbike, what the company is doing, and any advice he has to other inventors and entrepreneurs.
LAS: What is MONDAY Motorbikes, and how did you come up with the idea?
Josh Rasmussen (JR): MONDAY Motorbikes designs sell and manufacture electric motorbikes for urban environments.
We came up with the idea based on our own frustrations with getting around San Francisco. Traffic was hectic, public transit was late or crowded, and owning a car was expensive. We looked for solutions back in 2015 and there were only a few companies offering lightweight electric transportation such as Boosted Boards or Vintage Electric. As motorcycle and moped riders we wanted to create something that felt like a motorcycle but had the lightweight and approachable design to make it as easy as riding a bicycle.
LAS: What problem are you trying to solve?
JR: Frankly, it started because we were trying to solve our own problems getting around the city. We started snatching up old mopeds and retrofitting them to be electric and more environmentally friendly versus the standard two-stroke engines that were common for those vehicles. Once we proved the concept that we could make something that had a useful range and power output we started making our motorbikes look more aesthetically pleasing… That’s when people all around San Francisco starting asking us where we bought our motorbikes. At that time, we realized that we can make a difference in urban mobility and, most importantly, reduce pollution in cities.
LAS: What is MONDAY Motorbikes providing that is unique to market and to new businesses?
JR: We provide cafe racer-inspired electric bike design to provide a ride that makes you look good and feel even better. Our team has also launched our newest units, the Anza and Gateway, to provide people in urban areas with lightweight and cost-effective transportation solutions starting at $1,500 to $3,500 (or less than $100/mo with financing).
LAS: Are your products/services designed with a specific target audience and positioning in mind? Who are they and why?
JR: Unlike a large portion of the electric bike market, we design our motorbikes from the ground up with the end-user experience and personal style in mind. As we see the electric bicycle market grow, there is an increasing number of electric bicycle manufacturers entering the market that make knock-off or similar designs to existing products out there. This problem exists in almost every market segment so this is not new, however, we aim to set ourselves apart by creating new and unique designs. Our motorbikes are typically purchased by people living in urban areas between the ages of 28 and 42. With our new bikes launched a few weeks ago, we are experiencing a surge in sub-25-year-old males and females which is something we are super excited about.
LAS: How is this pandemic affecting the way your organization operates?
JR: In the early stage of COVID (FEB / March) we noticed a downtick in sales but an uptick in website visits. We heard stirrings of a flu-like issue in China but we could not have guessed it would build to a global pandemic. As a result, we actively created work from home protocols and changed our digital content and paid advertising strategies. By April, MONDAY Motorbikes realized a 300% spike in sales and has continued strong revenue growth MoM since. Currently, we operate with half our staff working from home utilizing tools such as Zendesk, Zoom, and the Google Suite to improve our efficiency.
LAS: What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years?
JR: I believe we’ll see a large portion of market consolidation over the next 5 years. Our industry does not have an “800 lb gorilla” yet. With market consolidation, we will have a clear industry leader by 2025. The next challenge will be with regards to the production of full-electric bicycles or sub-assemblies like motors or batteries. Currently, most electric motors and batteries are produced in China. I am noticing a shift away from Chinese manufacturing and believe we will have large portions of electric bicycle and motorcycle componentry produced domestically or in a secondary country such as Taiwan, India, or Vietnam.
LAS: What do you consider the biggest challenges for a CMOS these days? How do you work with your executive team to get the most out of the marketing function?
JR: The biggest challenge for Co-Founders with sales/business development backgrounds as well as CMOs is bridging the chasm between online and offline sales and marketing. With increasing electric bicycle competition, consumers still like to demo products while enjoying unique online content created by the manufacturers. As CMO’s our job is to meld those two worlds together to create a holistic experience to bring consumers, brands, and products together.
Our core leadership primarily rides motorcycles so explaining our strategies and why we do them is relatively simple. My advice comes in two parts to CMOs and Co-Founders
1. The good thing about advice is that you can take what you need and leave what you don’t.
2. Numbers don’t lie. Utilize existing platforms such as Google Analytics, Salesforce, or Shopify Analytics to provide your executives with a clear picture of how your strategies will work/are working.
LAS: What do you think is the most exciting marketing trend at the moment? How can we use it to increase brand awareness?
JR: I think one of the most exciting marketing trends is utilizing social media. Influencer marketing is not necessarily new, but social media marketing alongside electric bike brands is still in its infancy. It’s amazing to see how different brands are using co-branded content, influencer marketing, or paid advertising to enhance their brand awareness.
LAS: How do you approach branding a company, its products, and services?
JR: I approach branding with three key questions which assist me in creating what we call the “Brand Bible”
- Who is that customer or fan, more importantly, who would we like them to be?
- What do you want people to feel when they hear about you?
- What is your vision of the future and how do you plan to get there?
LAS: Which companies or brands do you look to for marketing inspiration?
JR: There are two mid-size companies that I really appreciate their marketing that I believe deserve a shout out:
Ronin Motorworks – does a tremendous job of creating the brand story and building value for the product they created.
Black Rifle Coffee – A “conservative-minded” coffee brewer that takes a no-holds-barred approach to brand their company and products to hit their target market. I really appreciate their robust content creation strategy.
LAS: What is your approach to making big-picture decisions?
JR: Each big picture decision needs to have relevant data supporting it. We review information available to us to make decisions quickly and accurately.
LAS: How do you choose the priorities that will guide a corporation?
JR: Each quarter we review our priorities defined in five core areas of the corporation; Sales, Marketing, Production, R&D, and People. I choose the priorities based on the needs of our customers and goals for production and R&D.
LAS: What big problem kept you up last night? And what are you doing about it?
JR: The electric bike supply chain is in disarray due to the pandemic causing delays industry-wide. We are creating secondary suppliers and moving towards redundant operational solutions to reduce lag-time.
LAS: What Big Piece of Advice would you give to new entrepreneurs who are looking to start a startup?
JR: For hardware startups here is my concise advice;
Get to your MVP fast.
- Test and validate your product-market fit.
- Find relevant advisors and mentors early.
- Don’t be afraid or too proud to push the eject button early if the idea is not good.
LAS: Any last words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
JR: Challenges occur every day in a startup – having a good team and mentors beside you makes the journey a lot easier.