LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN) — Ben Serotta finds himself at this Interbike without a place to call home. The industry veteran, who was fired this summer from the company he founded 41 years ago, had new business cards printed two days ago.
"I realized I had no identity," said a cheerful Serotta, who prefers to talk about what's next for him, rather than about his eventful last year, which saw his company bought, then merged with other brands to become part of Divine Cycling Group, and then his sudden forced departure.
Serotta's card simply says "Ben Serotta" above the URL of his blog, BenSerotta.com.
But Serotta, who first entered the bike industry when he opened a bike shop while in high school, has a few more cards up his sleeve: a variety of short-, medium- and long-term projects he's contemplating.
Project Number 1 is the blog, which is simply a place for Serotta to update friends and the curious about ... well, the other projects, personal and professional. Serotta said the blog will remain positive and forward-looking.
"The only reason I'm in this business is that I love bikes and I want to talk about that," he said. "I'll let the negative things in the past be someone else's thing to worry about."
Moving on, Project Number 2 is to re-engage with the bike fitting community. Serotta — the man and the company that bears his name — was one of the earliest proponents of thorough, scientific bike fitting, and hundreds of bike shop employees and others have learned their skills through the Serotta International Cycling Institute — an independent company with which Ben Serotta currently has no business ties.
In recent years, business challenges forced Serotta to put less focus on the bike fit world, even as business interest in bike fitting has exploded, with Cannondale, Specialized, Shimano and others jumping into the business.
Here at Interbike, Serotta has been meeting with some of the biggest names in bike fit and this weekend he will attend the Medicine of Cycling Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo. Later this fall he'll speak at the International Symposium on Cycling Optimization, a bike-fitting conference in Munster, Germany.
How exactly Serotta will re-enter the bike fit community as more than an observer is less clear, although Serotta said he was intrigued and inspired by the growth of the bike-share projects around the world, especially the CitiBike in New York City. He noted that many bike share customers are positioned so poorly that it borders on being a safety concern.
Project Number 3 is consulting. Serotta is teaming with Bill Watkins — a short-term CEO at the Serotta bike company ,who was fired the same day as Serotta — to offer consulting services to bike industry companies and those interested in entering the bike world.
"I've made plenty of mistakes over the years, and I think I've learned things from each of them," Serotta said Wednesday. "I think Bill and I are in a place now where we can help people in all parts of the industry, from bike makers to fitters and retailers and investors who want to get in."
Serotta said he's already met with several potential consulting clients and has had inquiries from several others.
Another project not quite on the short-term list but bubbling on Serotta's back burner is a cycling website, to be called BestofCycling.com. The site will feature people, places and things that are the best at what they do.
"We're not going to review 10 things and tell you why nine of them are bad, we're going to stay positive and focus on just the best of the best," he said. The site will launch in three to six months.
And even further into the future, Serotta said he is likely to get involved with making bikes again, but he's keeping mum on the details. "I'm not going to set up shop in some garage and build lugged frames for the next 10 years," he said.
"But I will be building some bikes again."