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Rapha to Speak at Now/Next/Why- June 9th, San Francisco

May 5, 2015

We are excited Derrick Lewis of Rapha will be speaking at the Contagious/BSSP Now/Next/Why in San Francisco on June 9th, as we have tremendous respect for what this brand has achieved by building an experience, focusing its efforts on a core audience and solving for an unmet need.

Simon Mottram, a brand consultant (Interbrand, Sapient and Circus) and passionate cyclist, founded Rapha (named after an old French cycling team) in London over 10 years ago.

Mottram’s quest for good cycling gear constantly came up short when all he could find was uncomfortable gear, blazoned with logos and made from synthetic materials like polyester. It was the personal journey and need that drove him to create his own company.

It took 200 meetings and over a year to raise enough money to start the business and five years to make a profit, but now the company is thriving on the back of the cycling boom around the world, but especially in the UK, where the success of British riders in the Olympics and The Tour have fueled consumer excitement for the sport.

Rapha is on course to generate around $55m in revenue this year and recently beat out Adidas for the sponsorship of Team-Sky; the elite professional cycling team.

The company mainly sells its gear online, but has eight stores, or as it calls them Cycling Clubs in the UK, US (San Francisco and NYC), Japan and Australia that are centered around the brand experience, which with their coffee bars, and big screens showing live cycling events or old videos all of which contributes to creating real “cycling club” atmosphere.

Rapha has been very focused on its core cycling customer, people who love the sport, put in serious miles regularly and test themselves. It’s this focus that helps drive the brand experience. Everything they do is done through the eyes of the cyclist. It’s the passion that comes through in the company’s staff who are encouraged to start their Wednesday workday at 1pm, allowing them time to get in a ride before work. Every three months, the company closes for a day, so employees can do a 100-mile ride together and a good pub lunch.

Aside from the “clubs”, Rapha is big on bringing its brand to life through content and has focused a lot of energy on film-making; profiling riders, rides, travel destinations (another part of its business) all of which are “housed” on its site.

Another element of detail in the experience is how it includes hidden “cycling stories” in its clothing labels.

The future for the company is to further expand its reach globally, but it also has ambitions of becoming a lifestyle brand, built from and fueled by cycling culture.

The Contagious/BSSP Now/Next Why event brings together speakers from the likes of Google, Slack, Under Armour, Rapha, Black Tomato and others to talk about the important area of brand experience. It will be held in San Francisco on June 9th. More details and tickets can be found here. 

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