Pivoting with Ride On

October 26, 2017

Pivoting is a vital part of the entrepreneurial process. On many occasions, the Startup Challenge has seen teams enter with one idea and transition into something completely different. The process is exciting and can lead to endless possibilities. Dragonfly, an alumni Startup Challenge team, recently pivoted on their initial idea of a bike light. We recently caught up with Tyler Nelson to learn more about where the company is headed. 

“We decided to switch to bike ads at the beginning of this summer. Our team took a break from working on the bike light after graduation as everyone started looking for jobs and transitioning out of the college world. Having time to reflect on the process of the bike light brought up some critical critiques of the project. Our reason for getting involved with Accelerate is to start a successful business that has a strong foundation and room to grow. The bike light would be a fun product to design and market, and would also be a way to positively impact the lives of cyclists, but it is difficult to start a business out of a single product. Also the time to market continued to be pushed back because we were not able to keep a consistent pace on the project in-between working full time. With these thoughts in mind we started meeting regularly this summer to see if we could adapt the project in a way that would make it more impactful by building bike community brand along with a simplified MVP. 

I was talking with my roommate one evening about Dragonfly and how we were trying to build a bike light to launch for next spring and he told me he would make a sign to put on his bike and ride it all over Boston to promote Dragonfly. That was the ah ha moment that lead to our pivot to starting a bike advertising business. After some initial research we found that no one offered a bike advertising service where you could just put a sign on the back of a bike and have it travel throughout the city. We worked out a business plan that allowed cyclists to make some extra money just by riding their daily commute, and offer businesses a low cost solution for mobile advertising. Pivoting to this concept made sense because it allows us to build a business around a service that has the ability to scale quickly. It is unique idea that sets us apart from other advertising businesses and we also have a unique product with the custom signs we designed with Jaywalk studio.  

The pivoting process has been a smooth transition. We learned a lot working on Dragonfly. We worked on business plans, researched patents, kickstarter campaigns, social media, how to take an idea from concept to prototype and learning how to work together as a team. All of this came from working with Accelerate, going to events and working with mentors on the project. Dragonfly started over two years ago, and even without immediate success we still have a team that is willing to stick with it and at this point switch ideas entirely and still be committed to the original goal, start a successful business, to be self employed and make a positive impact with what we create. With Ride On Ads we offer students a way to make money in between their busy schedules and offer businesses an environmentally friendly way of mobile advertising. We are also working on ideas for next year to create campaigns on cyclist safety around Boston.  

Dragonfly worked as a practice round for creating a start up, and with Ride On we have been able to put everything we learned into action. Our first meeting about transitioning to bike ads was at the start of July and we recently had our first riders start this September. 

My title is co founder at Ride On along with Dakota Baird. Together we have worked to turn our blue sky ideas into a conceivable business plan. Justin Voytek is going to be managing our riders and social media and Kate Jobes is working with us to develop a GPS tracking device we can add to our signs. 

Accelerate gave me the opportunity to practice what I was learning as an Industrial Design major and understand how to apply it to a project outside of the college setting. Accelerate taught me how to pitch an idea which helped me in every class presentation and interviews for internships and jobs. It also provided a realistic insight into building a startup company and helped me understand the framework for bringing an idea from concept to a reality and how to focus resources and hard work in an effective way.” 


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