SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) Jan 24 —White Road Investments has gained a minority interest in Public Bikes, marking the second industry deal for Clif Bar founder Gary Erickson’s small venture capital fund.
Gregg Bagni, White Road’s director, said White Road had been watching the design-inspired San Francisco urban bike brand for about 18 months as it developed its consumer direct model, before purchasing a non-controlling interest late last year. White Road also owns a stake in Santa Cruz Bicycles.
Bagni didn’t specify the investment made into White Road—only that it was a minority interest—and said he’s optimistic about White Road’s future with Public.
“They have the eye for detail that not everybody has; I think there’s potential there, they’re small right now,” Bagni said. White Road was attracted to Public for its creative and intellectual capital, he said. “Through our affiliation with Clif Bar we think we can do some cool stuff together,” he added.
Public was started in 2007 by Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach, a company that brought classic, modern furniture to average households. Its steel diamond, mixte and step-through framed city bikes are sold primarily through its publicbikes.com website, and at about 30 retailers in the U.S. and Canada.
Forbes declined to elaborate on how his company intended to capitalize on White Road’s investment, saying only “we have a huge respect for White Road and we are delighted to have them as a partner and investor” in an e-mail.
But, in a recent blog posted on Public website, the company said it intended to grow its dealer base and its staff to support “major growth plans and initiatives for 2012 and beyond.”
“We’re ending the year on a very optimistic note, and we have several new exciting ideas and directions for 2012. We’re growing at a fast pace, and this keeps us motivated,” the blog post said.
White Road, started by Erickson three years ago, also recently invested in a Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils, a Canadian hemp food manufacturer. Its portfolio is focused on the natural foods, outdoor and bike industries.