Martin told us over a cup of coffee how the idea for the business came from what he’d seen while travelling in Thailand.
As a café-cum-bike shop, it was certainly the first of its kind in York, and one of only a handful in the UK. But despite being an innovative new venture, the commonly-held narrative of small business failure proved to be a big obstacle getting it off the ground.
Funding was hard to come by and support was hard to find. As an unproven business model in the UK, Martin found that Banks had written his idea off before he’d even got started and were reluctant to authorise any loans.
But despite these obstacles, four years later his business is thriving, and it was lovely to meet someone with so much passion for what they do, clearly doing so well.
But Martin still clearly thinks that big businesses and brands are not pulling their weight when it comes to looking after their small business customers:
“Not once has anyone come to see how hard I actually work, and what running a small business actually means”
We asked him if what he thought of the use of digital channels by marketers:
“I think digital channels are ruining communications between people in general as no one wants to interact person to person anymore.”
What marketers can learn from Martin:
It was a stark insight into the world of a small business owner – businesses will treat you like a king when they need your custom, but be happy to sit behind a computer screen the rest of the time. And if you want to dare to innovate it’s the risk of the big F word that will stand in your way, because whilst it may be glamorous to talk about, it’s just far too risky for businesses to bet against.
If we want real innovation and new small businesses that break the mould and disrupt industries in the UK, we need to celebrate more successes than talk about and glamorize failures – it will give everyone more confidence (most importantly the banks) and allow us to progress at a much more rapid rate.