On 2nd and 4th Fridays, a local Bay area business is featured with the intention to connect communities. These businesses are innovative, progressive and operate with their community in mind. If you know of a local Bay area business with an entrepreneurial spirit, embodies innovation and wants to uplift and empower their community, submit their info here.
Who: BikeWrappers (www.bikewrappers.com)
What: BikeWrappers are a set of reflective, decorative, and removable wraps that go on your bike frame so you can be seen at night. They are a low-tech solution to an important bicycle safety issue since they don’t require any batteries, cables, or adhesives.
For whom: Urban cyclists and bicycle enthusiasts; parents who want their kids to be seen while biking around the neighborhood
Why: I manufacture my product in San Francisco and I am a proud member of SFMade.
More importantly, San Francisco is a huge bicycle-commuting city. They have estimated that 3.5% of the population in San Francisco commutes to work via bicycle with bike commuting increasing 60% over the last decade. The summer has wound down, the fall is coming, and the days are getting shorter and shorter. Soon enough people will be biking home from work at 5-6 PM when the sun is already down and visibility becomes more of an issue while sharing the roads.
What was the genesis for the idea for BikeWrappers?
(Brent Thomas) The genesis for BikeWrappers was a cumulation of lots of different experiences that led up the start of my company. I have always been an avid cyclist, but that came to a head when I moved out to the Bay Area several years back. A friend and I both moved to San Francisco from the East Coast by biking our way across the country. I learned the value of being visible to cars during different hours of the day and night. Once I got here and began biking around the city, I had plenty of close calls with cars and was hit by two separate cabs at night. I was fortunate that both of the incidents were very minor and I wasn’t seriously hurt… and my bike made it out relatively unscathed. However, in both cases, it was the evening, I was following all the ‘rules of the road’ and in my mind, the accidents would have been avoided if the cabs had seen me better. These experiences led me to that ‘aha’ moment where I thought there has to be a better way. I thought of a product that I would actually want to buy that would ensure I was seen on the road. The three main qualities I kept coming back to were being very visible from every angle, something passive that didn’t require and wires or batteries and something temporary that wouldn’t permanently change my bike. Many prototypes later, BikeWrappers were born!
Do you have any statistics on the effects of reflective products and the reduction of accidents?
(Brent Thomas) I don’t have any specific stats that directly attribute reflective products reducing accidents but do have plenty of statistics that indicate the importance of cycling visibility. Nearly 70% of all nighttime Bicycle-Car collisions are due to inadequate side visibility (Source). Riley Geary says that 56% of adult fatalities were caused by riding at night without lights (Riley Geary is NHTSA annual “Traffic Safety Facts” Source). It has been estimated that 75% of bicycles used in the United States at night do not meet the legal requirements for lighting.
What are dog wrappers?
(Brent Thomas) DogWrappers are the 2nd line of reflective products that I launched. They are reflective dog collars and leashes so you and Fido can be seen at night.
Why is it important for you to manufacture your product locally?
(Brent Thomas) It’s important for me to manufacture my products locally for several reasons. First, I really take pride in being American made and think my customers appreciate that fact as well. Second, the aspect of manufacturing locally that I like the best is being able to build relationships with the folks that I work with, physically be able to visit their facilities and have a very close supervision over quality control. And finally, by working with local manufacturers, I am able to turn around large orders and custom orders much faster than I could if I was working with someone overseas.
Tell us more about SFMade and why local business owners should consider membership.
(Brent Thomas) SFMade has provided me with many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. They’ve created an organization and environment that fosters networking, education through classes and seminars; and created a community of local San Francisco businesses. If you’re a San Francisco based small business and make your products in the city, then there isn’t any reason you wouldn’t want to become a member of SFMade to take advantage of their resources. Plus, it’s free to join.
Do you have any unique stories about a client and your product?
(Brent Thomas) I have plenty of unique stories of folks with the product whether it be people that have biked across the country with them, taken them to Burning Man, or someone that had custom wraps made for every part of their new expensive Bamboo bike to protect it while traveling on Bart. Honestly, the best stories I hear are when folks let me know how much they appreciate their wraps and how they have saved them on their daily commute. It doesn’t get much better than that for me.
What’s next for BikeWrappers?
(Brent Thomas) I’m pretty excited about the future of BikeWrappers. I will be launching a new line of products for scooters. Not only that but I have recently launched a custom BikeWrappers program that companies, event organizers, cycling clubs, etc. can get their logos and designs made into custom BikeWrappers as well as just top tube covers.
Micro Business Therapist™ and simplicity expert, A.Michelle Blakeley is the curator of the online magazine, Micro Business Therapy. She helps new and seasoned entrepreneurs focus on holistic and sustainable business practices for agile growth. Minding the gap between your personal and professional life™ Connect with her on Twitter at @simplicityinc