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‘A Wheelie good idea’ – How one Startup with a passion for Bikes raised £40k in 6 days

Andrew Denham, a biking fanatic from Frome, Somerset, is the Director of The Bicycle Academy. That aside, Andrew managed to raise over £40k in just under 6 days, via the Crowd-funding site Peoplefund.it for his socially conscious bike building academy. How the money was raised so quickly, intrigued TheEmployable, so we contacted Andrew to find out the how’s and the why’s of The Bicycle Academy and if he could advise any potential ‘crowd-funding’ startup’s the secret to his success…

So what is The Bicycle Academy? The Bicycle Academy is a simple idea. A Bike Workshop that teaches
people how to design and make their own bikes from scratch. The bike is built, the skills are learnt and the first bike is given for use in Africa, where it is really needed. Excuse my ignorance, but do people really want to pay to learn how to design and make their own bikes? “Absolutely” Andrew explained, “…There are only two other bicycle frame-builders in the UK that run similar courses, and they both have rather long waiting lists to get on the courses”. Evidently there are people out there, keen to build their own bikes and learn the trade, which the more you think about it, makes sense. Much like surfers love the idea of building their own boards, it makes sense that Cyclists, would find joy in designing and making their own bike.

Andrew, an experienced Mechanical Design Engineer, had always had a passion for Biking. At 29 he is a
Mountain Bike fanatic and runs a club which he founded, and also organises the ‘Cobble Wobble’, which is an annual bicycle hill climb event that takes places in Frome, Somerset. Definitely check out the Cobble Wobble event online as its looks so much fun and a really good day out. Might have to take a trip to Somerset in 2012 myself (not to take part in the event mind), which in essence is 200+ bikers taking part in an uphill time trial course (on cobbles!). This goes a little way to explaining why Andrew, with a passion for Biking and a healthy attitude to ‘community’ and charity based work came up with the idea for The Bicycle Academy.

Andrew had taken the typical career route of aspiring for success. “All I wanted to do, was get a good job, at a big company”. Andrew is keen not to dismiss either of those things, but success and work friendships aside, Andrew realised “that neither the ‘good job’ or the ‘big company’ makes me tick and makes me happy” and after setting up the Cobble Wobble, he tried to think of a way to combine the two things that made him tick; Bikes and Community. Andrew appreciates that doing something for “the love of it is ultimately many people’s goals, but it not always practical”. 
After coming up with the basic idea of The Bicycle Academy, Andrew was introduced by a mutual friend to well-known and respected bike frame builder Brian Curtis who was keen to get involved, and the idea started to take shape into a potential business.

So moving the story on, on the 1st Nov (2011), Andrew entered The Bicycle Academy, onto Crowd-funding site, Peoplefund.it with a target of raising £40k in within the 6 week deadline. Within nearly 6 days Andrew had hit his target! A great success story and we were keen to find out how?

“People think the money was raised in the first six days it was ‘live’ on Peoplefund.it, but the reality is that it was an eleven month process..”
Andrew had a business idea that was under demand and hence for around 11 months before he entered their details onto the Crowdfunding site, Andrew made as sure as possible that anyone with a vested interest in bikes, cycling and bike design, already knew of the project and that they planned to Crowdfund the business to raise capital.

What Andrew ultimately has, is a niche in demand. With waiting lists at other bike workshops in the UK already spilling over, it made sense that some targeted marketing was used to ‘pre-sell’ the service they would have on offer. Facebook, Twitter, and biking social network were used build the contacts he needed – and at minimal
costs and Andrew is keen to stress that the success you have on Crowdfunding a project is “all down to you” and “if you think day 1 of raising the money is the day that your project goes live on a crowdfunding site, then you are likely to fail….” Really sound advice and advice we should all take on board….

With that, we wish Andrew and Brian all the best with their courses that start this March, and encourage everyone to take a look at the Bicycle Academy website. Thank you for your time Andrew and we hope your business is on the road to success…. 

Thinking if getting finance for one of your own ideas? Why not find out some more about Crowdfunding.

Interested in some more TheEmployable interviews?




  1. […] may be the passion you have for a particular interest or hobby. Check out Andrew Denham’s interview here – He set up The Bicycle Academy because he had a passion for bikes and […]

  2. […] may be the passion you have for a particular interest or hobby. Check out Andrew Denham’s interview here – He set up The Bicycle Academy because he had a passion for bikes and […]

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