January 30, 2015
Chris and I studied at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It's been almost 10 year since we graduated in 2006 with mechanical engineering degrees. Today a large part of what we do is thanks to our education at UNB. This month we were featured in the UNB Alumni News. The story can be found on the UNB Alumni News Direct website.
Originally posted on UNB Alumni News. Written by Natasha Rego
UNB alumni reinvent the wheel
Twin brothers and UNB alumni Jon and Chris Thornham (BScME'06) are making their mark on the cycling industry with their redesign of the Chris (left) and Jon Thornham (right) have redesigned the ultra-light carbon fibre wheel.
Chris (left) and Jon Thornham (right) have redesigned the ultra-light carbon fibre wheel.
ultra-light carbon fibre wheel being sold to cyclists around the world.
The Thornhams began designing high-performance racing wheels after Chris, a triathlete, was asked for more than $2,000 to purchase a set of wheels.
“We felt there had to be a way to combine a high tech proprietary design with an affordable sales model,” Chris explains.
With a very demanding market and a computer software to measure the wheels’ aerodynamics, the Thornhams realized they had the ability to create an economical, high-performance product.
In February 2012, the brothers launched FLO Cycling, a web-based direct sales model.
It was an instant success selling 750 cycling wheels to 28 countries in the first half hour of sales. To date, the brothers have sold 10,000 wheels to 52 countries.
“The reviews of the products’ performance and quality has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Chris. “We are very proud of that.”
Jon and Chris are also making an effort to give back to the community through their ‘Bike for a Kid’ program, which donates a bike and a helmet to a child in need every time they sell a set of wheels with ceramic bearings.
The UNB mechanical engineering undergraduates credit much of FLO Cycling’s success to their studies at UNB.
“Ever since I was young I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Jon. “Without UNB we would not be where we are today.”
January 27, 2015
It's that time again. I love reviewing the year. 2014 was a great year for us. We had a number of operational changes. We went from our products being shipped from our house to a dirt floor warehouse and finally to a fulfillment center. Time was becoming a big issue for the two of us and unloading the shipping to a fulfillment company gave us about four months of our lives back. I am going to follow the format from last year so things can be compared. Also, you can check out our "2012 Year in Review" and "2013 Year in Review" for comparison.
This article will be broken down into three sections.
Section 1 - Sales Data, Shipping Info, and Other Cool Stuff
Section 2 - Social Media and Website Growth
Section 3 - Our Thoughts for 2015
Section 1 - Sales Data, Shipping Info and Other Cool Stuff
Number of Wheels Sold
At the end of last year we said if we sold anywhere near 5,000 wheels we would be thrilled. In 2012, we sold 1,500, 2013 we sold 3,356 and in 2014 we sold 4,989. Yes, we are thrilled!
|The sticker tables at our new fulfillment center.|
Number of Bike for a Kid Donations
We continued our partnership with the Ironman Foundation this year. We were able to donate 357 bikes and helmets to less fortunate kids this year. Our total is now 758. We are excited for 2014 and have formed an additional partnership with More Than Sport. If all goes as planned, we hope to pass 1,000 bikes and helmets donated in 2015.
Number of Orders Placed at FLO Cycling
Even though Chris and I had become pretty efficient and processing orders, the amount of time we were spending shipping wheels was taking away from running the business. An average order took 10 days to organize and each day we spent 12-15 hours processing. With eight orders in 2014 that was about 1,000 hours each. Considering the average number of hours worked in one year is 2,000, shipping was a major undertaking. We decided to hire an order fulfillment company, and in June of 2014 we handed our shipping over to eFulfillment Services. With 2,818 wheel orders received this year it was great to still have the time to run our business. Thank you eFulfillment Services.
Number of Countries and Territories Where FLO Wheels have Shipped
I get pretty excited when we ship a wheel to a new country or territory. This year we were able to add five.
Other Cool Stuff
Here are a few interesting facts about the year.
Top 5 Countries by Number of Order Placed
1. USA - 74.06%
2. Canada - 6.53%
3. UK - 4.76%
4. Australia - 3.97%
5. Sweden - 1.67% - Sweden bumped out Denmark this year and is new to the list.
Top Three Wheels According to Sales
1. Front FLO 60
2. Rear FLO 90
3. Front FLO 30
Favorite sticker color: Stealth Black
Max number of gigabytes of RAM our servers used at one time: 150
Cumulative number of emails sent and received: 250,000
Number of sushi rolls consumed during shipping weeks: We may have mercury poisoning. =/
Number of cliff jumping sessions in Kona: 3
Number of dogs added to the FLO Cycling team: 2 - Quoddy the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (left), and Ruby the German Shorthaired Pointer (right).
Section 2 - Social Media and Website Growth
As an online business that is run from our houses, social media is very important to us. Here is how our social media grew in 2014 along with a few fun facts.
By the end of 2014 we had 6,170 likers on Facebook. That's 41% growth from 2013.
Last year Andy Murray's Winning Wimbledon video took the cake for the most shared post on Facebook. This year AMC's Minions Holiday message was the winner. They are catchy little buggers.
Our Twitter followers passed 2,000 this year with over 40% growth.
She's the Queen of Twitter. Katy Perry takes the prize again this year for the most Twitter followers. If she keeps winning I am going to run out of pictures of her on a bike. =]
YouTube Subscribers and Video Views
I have to admit that our YouTube growth surprises me. This year our number of YouTube subscribers surpassed our Twitter followers. We are also getting close to 500,000 video views with 456,707.
It's the year of dogs. This year's top YouTube video was a dog dressed up like a giant spider running around scaring people. Handsome fella!
FLO Cycling Website Visitors and Number of Page Views
Tracking the number of visitors to your site for an online business is pretty important. We've seen steady growth this year. The cool thing to me is that our page views per visitor is also growing. Below are the number of website visitors, website page views, and blog page views we saw in 2012-2014.
Can anyone guess who the king of the internet is with the most page views? Yep, it's still Google.
Countries to Visit our Website
Depending on who you ask, there are either 195 or 196 countries in the world. Funny enough, Taiwan - where our wheels are made - is the disputed country. At the end of 2014 we've officially had visitors from 179 countries. There's 16, or 17 to go.
App Session Views
A new addition this year is the number of app session our iPhone app has received. An app session means that someone opens the app to use it. We saw 41% growth this year with 98,218 sessions.
FLO Cycling Newsletter Subscribers
We are happy to see that people like our newsletter. Writing blog content is a big part of what we do. When people want us to share it with them, that's an added bonus. With just under 20,000 newsletter subscribers, it appears these engineers aren't too bad at writing. =]
When I read that our email campaign company mailchimp.com sent 70,000,000,000 - yes billion - emails last year, I wondered if that was the ceiling. How many more can you really send? Well, apparently you can send 100,500,000,000 in a year.
Putting stickers on wheels was my job for the last two years. This year I passed the torch to our fulfillment company. Before I finished I had surpassed 30,000 stickers in my sticker career. Here's to another 30,000 more.
Section 3 - Our Thoughts for 2015
At the end of last year we mentioned that we would be working on a new product. We did. While it's taken longer to develop then we expected, we are currently waiting for partial prototypes at this time. We hope to have an update for everyone soon. This new product means that 2015 will be a development year. We plan to discuss the development like we did with our wheel design back in 2010 and 2011.
We are also starting to study tires. At the end of 2014 we started to build an on bike data logger to tell us things we've thought about for years. We will be covering this process on our blog as well.
January 20, 2015
Where did the idea for FLO Cycling come from?
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
How do you bring ideas to life?
What’s one trend that really excites you?
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Tell us something about you that very few people know.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
January 14, 2015
Posted by FLO Cycling at Wednesday, January 14, 2015 Labels: Aerodynamics , FLO Research & Development , Tire Study
This week we have new parts. I just received a new wind speed sensor. If you are wondering why, I’d guess you are not alone. While a Garmin will give us great data on rider speed, it will not give us any information on relative velocity. For example, if you are riding 20 mph into a five mph head wind, your relative velocity is 25 mph. If you want to learn more about this, you can check out our blog on Relative Velocity.
This is important to know because it gives us an accurate wind speed for the recorded yaw angle. Without it we are left comparing rider speed and yaw angle which leaves a lot of unknowns.
I recently went for a ride to test out the sensor. Here is a quick video of the test.
When I returned home, I logged the data to see what was reported. While my speed in the truck was pretty consistent, - minus the stops - you can see a number of variations in the wind speed.
More testing is needed once the wind direction sensor shows up. The latest update told me it was delayed but should hopefully be shipping this week or next.
There are lots of interesting things coming up. Stay tuned.
January 6, 2015
Posted by FLO Cycling at Tuesday, January 06, 2015 Labels: Aerodynamics , FLO Research & Development , Tire Study
Last week I mentioned I was going to be busy in my garage making a mount for the data logger and sensors. Well, I have been. Here is what I have so far.
The Basic Construction
I thought about what to build this with and after looking at aluminum, pvc, plastic, etc., I settled with good old wood. Below is a shot of the mount drying after a few coats of paint. I figured I’d try and make it look a little bit cool =].
To secure the mount to the bike I made a custom skewer that holds support arms. The mount also rest on the top of my stem. Since the mount only touches my skewer and stem, it turns with the wheel. This is exactly what I wanted.
I am anxiously awaiting the wind direction and speed sensors. Once I have them I will mount everything. If I don’t get a few comments and looks when I start riding around with this thing I’ll be highly surprised.