Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How we built it: Pascal Capon of Ride and Glide

We talk to Pascal Capon Co-founder of Ride and Glide. Pascal and co-founder Pete Line have brought their love of board riding and fun to Ride and Glide. They believe that the transition to electric transport is the future and are striving to make that a reality as soon as possible

Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us about your brand

I set up Ride and Glide with my friend (Pete Line) to create a platform to share our love for board riding and having fun. When we started exploring the electric micro-mobility market, we immediately saw all the innovation that was going on in this area and knew this was the direction we wanted to take the company in. Today we e-tail several high quality, eco-friendly and fun e-ride brands (from electric bikes to e-scooters, and electric hydrofoils) from our headquarters in West Sussex. Here we’re close to the sea and the South Downs so we’ve got the choice of riding the waves or blazing a trail right on our doorstep. Today we offer an end-to-end service for anyone looking to purchase an e-ride, from our intuitive ecommerce website through to our on-site service centre.

What inspired you to set up your company

First and foremost, electric micro-mobility is an enabling technology, particularly for those with disabilities or mobility challenges. At Ride and Glide we’re helping people rediscover and enjoy their freedom again – to get outdoors into the fresh air and access places more easily – and nothing is more inspiring than that.

When I was growing up I spent a lot of time outdoors. My stepfather was a lifeguard on Bondi Beach in Australia and we used to go surfing together. I also got into skating with my friend Sam Preston (from the band Ordinary Boys) when we were teenagers. Boarding gave me a huge sense of freedom and ignited a passion for getting to places quickly – why walk somewhere when you can glide there on two wheels?!

I’ve run my own companies for 15 years now and the most important thing I’ve realised is that regardless of how successful a business is, you have to truly enjoy what you’re doing, otherwise it isn’t fulfilling. Fortunately, my previous ventures provided me with the financial backing required to establish Ride and Glide and now I’m working with a team that inspires me daily and who, like me, want to have fun and enjoy themselves along the way.

What was your biggest challenge in year one?

Back then the market was like the Wild West. Thousands of products were available, but we had no idea if they were good quality or not. Everything must be paid for in advance in this industry and bulk orders may take three months or more to arrive. Firstly, that’s a cash flow nightmare but secondly, the market may have moved on by then leaving you with a lot of products that are now deemed to be “out of fashion”.

Because of this, year one was an expensive experiment for us, both in terms of time and money. Luckily all the sweat and tears were worth it though and we eventually found some seriously cool companies to work with.

What would you say has been your biggest marketing success?

One of our earliest marketing successes was hosting two local demo events. Everyone who came was really positive about the products and the enjoyment they got from riding them was palpable. That gave us confidence that we were definitely onto something and going in the right direction. Since then the business has grown but our brand values remain the same – being ourselves, sharing something we really enjoy with our customers, and helping them reconnect with the outdoors again.

By its very nature e-commerce is typically a faceless transaction. Product demonstrations are still a key part of the e-commerce sale; allowing customers to come and “try before they buy” from us.

The electric vehicle (EV) market is emerging at a rapid pace and we want to help make the switch to electric micro-mobility as enjoyable and straightforward as possible. We build human interaction into every step of the process, wherever possible, from pre-sale to after care. Our live chat function on the website has real people – not bots – behind it and we also actively engage with customers through our social media channels. From our own experience we know the EV market is a minefield – we’ve done the hard work so that our customers don’t have to!

Our unwavering commitment is to deliver “customer service above all.” Looking at our exceptionally positive online review profile, I think we’ve hit on a winning formula.

What has been the biggest mistake you made?

Choosing the right products to bring to market can be a gamble. We once waited two years to receive a product from a Dutch company and when the final bikes arrived they were substandard. We had to refund all of the customers who had pre-ordered the bikes from us.

On the flip side, we got an introduction to SUPER73 (a Californian manufacturer of electric motorcycle-styled electric bikes) through a family friend, became one of their first UK retailers, and now they’re a global brand.

We are much more careful now about the companies we purchase from, especially as we’re paying upfront for the products.

Tell us about your plans for the future

We’ve got the capacity in the team built-in to handle increased sales but we’re aware that our projected growth may affect how we offer our service. We still want to maintain the human interaction we provide our ecommerce customers and we know that having a bricks and mortar presence is also important to suppliers.

We are investing in expanding our shop and service centre in Sussex and we’re actively looking for other UK retailers we can work with to extend our service.

We’re also moving into electric water sports, which is perfectly suited to where we’re based on the UK’s sunshine coast.

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