Follow your dreams
Ed Brazier worked in marketing for 12 years before packing it all in and founding Airdrop bikes. Despite having very little background in the industry he has now designed his first bike – the Edit – and the first batch of frames will ship to customers in six weeks time.
We sat down with Ed to find out how he got this far and what he learned in the process:
1. Only take the plunge when you’re ready
“I knew from the day I left university back in 2002 that I wanted to set up my own business. I just felt uncomfortable working for someone else because it always felt a bit like cheating, I wanted to make my own way in the world.
“It actually took me until the summer of 2014 to feel like I was grown up enough and had enough experience to actually succeed, not just try, but succeed. I’d been saving up every month since my very first pay cheque so that I would have some cash to get started on my own business. That is a bit unusual but I knew it was my ticket out of the daily grind.
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“I explored the idea of setting up a bike company almost to prove to myself that it was a silly idea. I reached the conclusion that, although it would be extremely difficult, it wasn’t impossible and I became obsessed with it.
“Could I do it? If I succeeded I would have my own bike company, how wild would that be? I got to the point where I had to find out and the only way to find out is to try and the only way to try is to try as hard as you possibly can because if you don’t do that, you’ll never know for sure.
“I’d gone from being in a job that was making me unhappy to waking up every morning thinking, “brilliant, let’s crack on, let’s do this”. It didn’t feel scary anymore and that’s what told me I was ready.”
2. Don’t be afraid to be different
“Companies like Airdrop are normally started by people from an engineering background and that’s because they can bring all their skills to bear on a bike then put it into production.
“I needed to learn a lot about geometry and suspension kinematics but with respect to all those bike designers out there who work so hard, it is not rocket science. You can learn how to do these things if you’re determined enough.
“I wanted the Airdrop Edit to sell itself. I was sick of the whole marketing thing and I really didn’t want to have to do it wonkily and have to sell it by marketing. I wanted it to be a proper bike and the results are sweet.
“I have a rider-oriented view about what the bike should be like. I wanted it to be dead simple so you could just know how it works just by looking at it. It has to be easy to live with so it’s not going to break and if something wears out it’s easy to fix using regular tools by yourself.
“There is another bike in the pipeline, I’m not going to tell you what it is yet but the thing about having your own bike company is you can do whatever you want. I really love that I can try something out and have a bit of fun with it. The new bike might not necessarily be what you’re expecting but it’s going to be a lot of fun… and it’s not a fat bike!”
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
“Generally in mountain biking people want you to succeed. They just love the idea of a new British brand and someone sacking off their job and trying it. I don’t think that would happen in every industry and I think it’s something we’re lucky to have in mountain biking.
“I got as many people as I could to ride the bike, friends and family and also people I don’t know, who are probably more beneficial from a testing point of view, especially if you can find someone who’s honest.
“There’s a brilliant scene here in Sheffield and it’s quite a good place to do something like this, the access to the trails is brilliant there’s a bunch of people who know what they’re talking about.”
4. Have no regrets
“There’s probably hundreds of things I would have done differently but I’m not a regrets kind of person. The reality is that you’re never going to do this again, but as long as you learn from your mistakes and you move on it doesn’t matter.
“Our workshop was an absolute dump. It was full of asbestos and junk and the walls were covered in mould. I wanted to get it back to a bare brick finish, the kind you get in trendy pubs, so I spent a whole month scraping off mould with a wire brush.
“I realized half way through that it was still going to be a dump either way so I had to board over it. That was a month of back-breakingly hard work completely wasted but it doesn’t matter really – it’s character building.”
5. Enjoy it along the way
“The very first prototype was so far from the bike I’ve got now but when I built it up I was super excited. I had a great ride and came back so stoked on the whole thing.
“It was just like the light bulb going on and a real boost to my confidence because until then I had just been head down working on a computer. It wasn’t perfect but it was the first time I felt like I could get it to production – it was really cool
“There won’t ever be a day when I say yesterday I wasn’t a success but today I am, it’s more like you have little successes along the way.
“Another way of looking at it would be – anything you do is a success unless you fail. Every day you have the opportunity to mess it up but you don’t so you are succeeding and that’s a really healthy way of looking at it.”
For more information on Airdrop Bikes click here.