Auckland businessman Phillip Marquet discusses starting a new business and tapping into New Zealand's ever-growing electric bike market.
What does your business do?
Boost Bikes imports electric bikes from China and I started the business about a year ago. My background is in design and advertising but I was looking for a new business opportunity and I could see the electric bike market was growing and the opportunities there.
I've got a premise in Parnell which is where the business is run from but we have an online e-commerce store and we have a partnership with a logistics warehouse company in St Johns that take care of all of our deliveries and stock storage. We also have dealers which we are gradually setting up around the country. We have dealers in Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch, New Plymouth and Queenstown.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I was looking for an electric bike for my own use. I couldn't find what I was looking for so I found some overseas that I was really keen on and the reaction I got from those bikes here in New Zealand was great.
When I imported some samples in early 2018 I had a lot of people interested in buying them which gave me the confidence to set up a new business based on the whole EV market, but the electric bike side of things.
Most of the bikes here are either commuter bikes or mountain bike off-road bikes but that didn't really suit the style I was looking for. We ordered our first big order of bikes in the middle of last year.
How big is your team?
The team is pretty small. I'm the face of the business, I'm hands-on running the company day to day and keeping it all ticking over. I've got admin support looking after the website and online sales and then our team at the logistics warehouse is made up of two guys looking after those when sales come in. We're relatively new so just growing as the business grows.
How much demand have you seen for your style of electric bikes?
We are getting good sales and growth is good, and the market is growing. We placed our first order last year and we're due to place another pretty soon.
The bikes have sort of like a motorcycle, retro classic pseudo-vintage look about it, it appeals to people who really like the aesthetics. The aesthetics is a bigger part of the appeal. The reaction we get from the bike is fantastic, people just love it. For these, it is a niche market but the demand is there.
What does the electric bike market in New Zealand look like?
It's growing, it's getting bigger and bigger every year. It has experienced huge growth in the last two years and I think it will keep on growing.
Technology is changing and battery technology is moving pretty fast and people are always keen to keep up-to-date with that and being in New Zealand we are quite a early adopter as a nation. The way infrastructure is working in New Zealand with cycleways, it is making it much more easier to take on an electric bikes. A lot more people are getting into it, there's so much potential there for the industry.
Where are Boost Bikes imported from and how much do they cost?
We have three models of the bike based on different power levels and they start off at $3490 for our 350-watt bike and just under $4000 for our 500-watt and then $4490 for the 750-watt, and they are all assembled and imported from China.
They were designed for the American market because the company that actually manufacturers the bikes has a large branch office in California. The same bikes are sold in the United States under a different brand, they're going gangbusters there.
What are your long term plans for the business?
We are going to carry on importing the bikes. We launched this style of bike because we loved the look and feel of it but we have got other things in the pipeline to do with different styles and maybe even other transport such as scooters, anything that looks out of the ordinary and different.
What advice do you give others thinking about starting their own business?
I've been running my own design company for many years and I know the ins-and-outs of running a business but for anyone starting out, the main thing is to make sure you are doing something that you enjoy doing - if you enjoy it or have some sort of passion in it that gives you the motivation to keep on going and focus to make it a success. Ask for advice and take it all on.