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Hubtiger apps connects retailers with cyclists, tracks bike service intervals

Published August 17, 2020

A version of this article appeared in the August issue of BRAIN.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (BRAIN) — From GPS units, training and tracking apps, to social media, cyclists have become living software interfaces. Stuart Blyth developed Hubtiger to tie those connections with bike shops and clubs in one mobile and desktop platform package.

In development for 2½ years, Hubtiger launched last year in South Africa and is available in six countries, including the U.S., where it is being marketed extensively this year to bike shops and cyclists.

"Cyclists are tech-savvy and they love their bikes," Blyth said. "They've got multiple bikes usually; they've got expensive bikes; they've got wearables; they've got computers; they've got a whole bunch of things. And they love Strava."

To add to that, Blyth said a lot of bike shops don't do a good job tracking service and bike and component mileage for maintenance, which is another benefit to Hubtiger.

For retailers, the platform integrates into several point-of-sale systems, including Lightspeed and Vend. As a point-of-sale add-on, the average cost is $60 a month, depending on the size of the shop and number of mechanics' stations.

"Then you look at races and trails and cycling clubs," he said. "I thought to myself, 'If you could connect cyclists to each other and then cyclists to bike shops and races and trails, an entire ecosystem can win.'"

For cyclists, the free app will link to a personalized feed of what's happening in the area, including club rides and races, which can be entered and paid for by the user's stored credit card information.

Blyth said the retailer can offer service packages tied to the race, which notifies the entrant after registration.

Cycling clubs can create events and communicate with members.

"Everyone is benefiting," he said. "My bike shop is benefiting because I'm going to give them service. My friends are benefiting because they'll also want to enter the race and just because you're connected, the value of the ecosystem increases. And then the bike shop is fully digital from online bookings to the calendar, automated communications and then ratings at the end."

Hubtiger has facilitated more than 32,000 service requests worldwide. In a June blog post, Lightspeed recommended the app for shops reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic hampered plans for a major rollout in the U.S., but Specialized is testing the platform in several Los Angeles-area bike shops. Only two other U.S. shops were using it full-time as of June.

"We worked really hard in December and January and February on the infrastructure to be sure we could handle thousands of bike shops," Blyth said.

"So we didn't do any marketing or pushing of sales because the Specialized deal came through and that could lead to 50, then a few hundred and then a few thousand quickly. And then corona hit just as we were ready to push, so it's been a few months' delay, and we're starting to do the marketing now."

Blyth said there are "a couple bigger bike shops in L.A. that aren't Specialized that are waiting to come on board."

The company planned to start marketing its app in earnest in July. He added forming partnerships with bike retailer associations with access to hundreds or thousands of bike shops is key.

"For the big sophisticated forward-thinking bike shops, it's a no-brainer for them," he said.

Blyth's goal is to have Hubtiger in 250 shops worldwide this year.

"We need to drive hard," he said. "We just demoed to the Lightspeed sales team. Lightspeed is the biggest point of sale for bike shops in the U.S. They love it. We're getting contacted at least once a day."

Hubtiger entered the Australian market in June with seven bike shops coming aboard. About the same time, Hubtiger was introduced in the United Kingdom, and at the beginning of July, it secured Sprockets Cycles, one of the largest bike shops in Glasgow; Handlebars, a growing bicycle repair chain; and Pure Electric, a growing e-bike and scooter retail chain.

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