Jul 28, 2022 - Business

Cyclist comes full circle with e-conversion

Illustration of a rear bike wheel with lightning bolts for spokes.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Serial entrepreneur Brent Robinson is a shade tree bike mechanic with an electric personality.

What's happening: Robinson, CEO of Fayetteville marketing firm Modthink, has also spun up Greenway Bike Company which converts run-of-the-mill analog bikes into electric bikes.

  • He's one of 10 entrepreneurs in the NWA cohort of an idea accelerator run by Heartland Forward and Builders + Backers, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital and accelerator firm.

Why it matters: Professional development of NWA startups and ideas from business creators are important to build a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem, attract talent and generate innovation.

Flashback: The germ of Robinson's idea came about the same time the pandemic hit. He told Axios that in March 2020 he was overweight and out of shape after having been very active when he was younger. Commuting to the office on his old bike proved to be more of a challenge than expected.

  • Rather than spend thousands on an e-bike, he researched electric-assist conversion kits for his "perfectly good bike."
  • In this setup, the motor assists the rider who still pedals.

Details: Inspired by his ability to get back into the exercise groove with the added e-oomph — and accompanying endorphins from working out — Robinson decided there was a business opportunity. Greenway Bike Company was born.

  • He has converted about 20 bikes in the past 18 months.
  • The cost varies, but generally $1,100 will get most bikes an assist motor and battery, with installation costing a bit more.
  • Most modern bikes can be converted, Robinson told us.

What's next: As part of the Builders + Backers idea accelerator program, Robinson has devised an experiment to test the feasibility of his business idea.

  • He's hosting a demo with some of his converted bikes this Saturday in Fayetteville at 115 N. Block Ave. from 7-11am.
  • Yes, and: Robinson will help six owners convert their bikes on Aug. 6 from noon to 5pm. The cost is $1,100, and he's sold two of the slots already.

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