When the inspiration for a new business venture struck one County Durham man, he got on his bike to make sure it became a success.
Joe Mulcahy, director of Pedibal 3 in One Bikes, was searching for a balance bike for his grandson when the idea for a new enterprise took hold.
Pedibal produce a range of lightweight aluminium crossover bikes, which offer many advantages for children learning to ride, and are already opening up new markets across the world, supported by the Department for International Trade North East.
Joe, 70, has established markets in Denmark, and is distributing to Norway, France and Holland, but aims to crack more global markets with new links to overseas distributors.
Working from his Chester-le-Street home, Joe manufactures the bikes in China, distributing from a Washinton warehouse. He accessed Department for International Trade North East support via its ERDF programme, to visit the China Bike Show gathering market intelligence and identifying potential distributors.
Pedibal is hoping to increase sales by £40,000 this year, resulting in the creation of one new job. Last week also saw the launch of the new website, developed with support from DIT, to suit international markets: http://www.pedibal.com/
The company has moved quickly through the gears since it got started.
“My grandson has dyspraxia and has a few issues with his balance and co-ordination,” said Joe. “Riding a bike was off limits for a long time and kids can be cruel so he used to get a lot of stick in the streets from other kids.
“I could find the balance bikes for little kiddies, but couldn’t get a bigger, light-framed one for my grandson, who was six and a half at the time, until I discovered this chap who sold a lightweight large version in the US and I bought one.”
The turn-around was incredible.
He went from being unconfident and clumsy to flying down the sides of steep hills in less than an hour – the change in him was incredible, I even had a call from his head teacher to ask what I was doing differently because his whole demeanour had changed.
The new bike looked cool too, so he went from being a bit of a target for kids to being the coolest kid on the street, it was incredible to see.
Joe began importing bikes from a US supplier and selling to schools and domestic market. Schools were also looking for pedal cycles, prompting the next stage of growth. Recognising that most cycles are heavy steel, requiring additional purchase, Joe used his engineering design background, with the aid of son Garry, to design and develop bikes encompassing all facets of learning to ride on two wheels - from balance to pedal on one lightweight bike…which is when the Scampa, the Sprinta and PediBal Limited was born.
The patented bikes are completely unique, with lightweight aluminium frames, they’re easily converted from balance to traditional bicycles. Pedibal also developed and brought to market the fold-up Suprema and its latest edition, the Navigata, a dynamic, folding e-bike.
“We are looking to get into the campus market and supply business parks,” added Joe. “The opportunities for these bikes are limitless.
“Schools are seeing the benefits of them and interest has been incredibly high, but no matter how big we get, we are still focused on customer service. We will continue to offer trade-ins for customers and also work closely with them to make sure they know how to follow the very simple process of converting the bikes, when the rider is ready.”
North East England Chamber of Commerce director of international trade, Julie Underwood, said:
With one part inspiration and one part innovation, Pedibal has not only spotted a gap in the market, it has moved quickly to plug it with a fantastic new product.
“Joe’s and Garry’s enthusiasm and drive for this amazing product is evident and it makes me incredibly proud to see something so exciting and innovative created in the North East. I am delighted to work with Pedibal and can only see great things for them in the future.”