By Bill Plock
I recently had a chance to sit down with Jeff Curran founder of Elevenpine. From the finance world to the technical bike wear world he is making it happen. I love his shorts, they just fit and perform well. I actually love to trail run in them as well and they hold my phone in the pocket so well along with other things. Check out their kickstarter for their latest (and sure to be most awesome) short: KICKSTARTER LINK
Tell us how it started and why:
We launched commercially in summer of 2016 bringing to market high performance, dual-fit cycling shorts that convert from technical and form-fitting on the bike to relaxed and stylish off the bike via our patented (design and utility patents-difficult and rare) 11P Dual-Fit system.
The brand was born out of the tremendous need that was not being addressed by any other brand – a high performance alternative to racing spandex tights for road bikers specifically that are technical and form-fit on the bike but relaxed and stylish off the bike. No other sport requires you to wear your racing gear when you are not racing. It is like trying to look like Bode Miller or Lindsay Vonn wearing racing tights to the ski hill. You do not do that unless clowning around on closing day.
“I thought cyclists wanted a better choice for “apres bike”!
Has that vision has changed after launching?
We quickly learned that not only did we create the perfect high performance alternative for road cyclists to wearing their racing lycra kit, but we also created the perfect mountain bike shorts given the shorts do not get caught on the seat post (rip or throw you off the bike) while riding. Mountain bikers just want to ride and do not even think about their shorts. The shorts are also loved by our customers for gravel biking, touring, bike packing, commuting, indoor cycling and really all types of cycling given their comfort and performance on and off the bike. We also learned that our customers love our shorts for triathlons (perfect brick training short going from bike to run), running, hiking, yoga (finally the perfect yoga short for men), SUP, CrossFit and all gym activities (note, today’s professional and recreational athletes train and enjoy numerous activities and therefore the need for a high performance multisport styles) as well as for travel, at the cafe, the brewery or picking up the kids at soccer practice. Ultimately, our customers are professional and recreational athletes and adventurers that fully love and enjoy life.
Why did you bring in Tom Barney former CEO of Osprey Packs:
Given my background in corporate finance and founder of a software company in healthcare, I did not just copy what all other brands were doing, but was able to create something unique, disruptive, loved and needed. We have a tremendous market opportunity, but not to execute in the best possible manner just doesn’t make sense. Given my background, I knew I need to hire the best in the industry. I therefore have hired a highly experienced team (backgrounds include Nike, Pearl Izumi and more), including Tom (who was also the CEO of Royal Robbins).
Why you are choosing to do a kickstarter to launch a new product?
Our customers have led us to design the most innovative, versatile and comfortable workout shorts and boxer briefs ever for cyclists and all athletes (men and women) that convert from a form-fit to a relaxed fit in seconds depending on the activity. Kickstarter is a terrific platform to launch new styles for emerging companies as we are able to reach an extended audience globally (let more people know about ElevenPine) and we are able to provide customers with a significant discount given we will be pre-selling the products prior to completion of production.
How you are selling your products now:
Given our early stage and need to prove our products and demand, we have focused on grass roots marketing efforts by selling only direct to customers via a pop-up tent at athletic events, through our ecommerce website at www.elevenpine.com. We are beginning to sell on Amazon. In the near future, we plan to expand our sales channels to include our own flagship stores, through retailers and internationally. Note, given we sell out of our inventory so quickly, we need to make sure we can properly and best support our partners in this latter group by dialing in our manufacturing and promotional support prior to expanding to these channels. what it’s like to start a clothing company, a very specific type of clothing
It is highly gratifying given our customers’ love and appreciation for our brand itself and for creating unique and needed products that enable people to perform better, be more active, comfortable and just enjoy their activities and everyday life. That said, the process to create highly technical and unique athletic apparel is not simple and easy. That is why I need to continue to build a highly successful and experienced team and partner with the best. and how hustling at shows and expos pays off, but maybe how hard it is. Exhibiting at events is very tiring given the necessary travel (particularly with a wife and 11 month old) and repeatedly showing and telling the ElevenPine product and story. However, it is also the most amazing experience.
Given people get to see a demo in person, they get to touch and feel the product as well as try them on, we are incredibly successful selling products and generating awareness of ElevenPine. The feedback we receive from customers is also amazingly helpful to best understand why people love our products so much and suggestions for improvements and for new products. It is amazing how energized I am and how I am repeatedly proven by customers enthusiasm for our products that we have something very special and impactful. We actually have created unique and disruptive products rather than just purely rely on marketing. I am not saying we will be the next Nike, Under Armour or Lululemon, but they also all started with disruptive styles.
Maybe a funny story along the way.
Too many of these 🙂 I like looking back at our very first event. I did not think through that people would want to try on our shorts at the event. Therefore, immediately after the first day of the event, I went to Walmart and purchased a hula hoop and a black shower curtain to put up in the back corner of our tent to create a changing room. We quickly learned that this was not the best solution the next day. Not only did the wind kick up the curtain, but you could see right through the black curtain when the the sun shined on it to further expose the person. Oops. Though all was not lost. The line at our booth was tremendous. Not sure if it was because of our amazing products or because of the show. Regardless, it was a highly successful event… and we now use pop-up camping tents that are portable, discrete and private 🙂