We are at a crossroads with Unfound and I wanted to explain where we are at and where we aim to go from here.
Firstly, I just wanted to thank you all for your support on what has been an amazing journey so far. We have gone from sketching an idea on a piece of paper to a platform that has had 110,000+ people visit from 144 countries.
I had an idea to build an alternative platform for cyclists based on a love of travel and an interest in cycling around the world. I wanted to do this by also providing a platform for cycling businesses, publications, shops, cafés and travel companies to communicate directly with travel loving cyclists.
I believe that life is about experience and this platform is for cyclists who get that and for cyclist businesses that want to provide those experiences. It was never meant to be for all cyclists, just those that ‘get it’. A place to share your passion that isn’t governed by algorithms, subliminal marketing and corporate greed.
We are two years in and it has been some experience for me. I have learnt so much. I have seen photos and rides from Rio de Janeiro, Everest Basecamp and literally hundreds of other amazing places around the world.
I have consistently been blown away by the beauty of places like Salzburg, Austria; inspired by the community building of Dawn Patrol in Oslo, Norway; and captured by the passion and entrepreneurial inspiration from the likes of Adrian Hill at Alpcycles. We even helped save and organise the Singha Tour of Phuket last year which was an amazing thing to be a part of. There are many, many more examples too.
I’ve made friends and know many of you have connected through the hub too. In Harrogate last week I caught up with lots of you including long time supporter John Pattison and Hong Kong cycling friend Mark Pickersgill. I even rode across the World Championship finishing line with Kev Dennison where we discussed him riding in Chennai, India next time he was there as he’d seen SpiceRoads’ ride on the hub.
Despite all these amazing achievements and experiences, in recent weeks I have realised that we aren’t where I hoped we would be and we need to make changes. This has been a passion project for me. One I have funded myself and managed alongside a full time job, a wonderful wife, two beautiful kids and of course, cycling. It has not been easy.
I know we have had issues with the platform and I am sorry for any frustrations caused. Despite the glitches along the way, I can assure you that what we have built is simply amazing given the budget we have had to spend. For that I cannot thank Adam Stephens enough. How he hasn’t punched me on multiple occasions, I will never know but his vision, design, passion, knowledge and ability is simply amazing. If you ever need any design and website work done, drop him a line.
While we have ironed out a lot of the tech issues, we are not a native app. While we have achieved some amazing things, we are still a long way from where we want to be and the numbers that are required to provide a constant flow of great content. And when my cycling friends aren’t using the platform, then I know we need to stop, take stock and think about the future.
At this juncture, I feel we have failed to encourage enough cyclists on to the platform and we have failed to articulate to businesses the opportunity for them. And this becomes a bit of a chicken and egg scenario.
And that brings me to why I am writing this letter. We are at the end of one road and we need to decide which way we go next; to refocus on what we want our identity to be. The general idea of a social media platform was a good one – and the launch of the high budget GCN native app this week is testament to that.
However, our new focus is based on all the things we have learnt along the way and we are really excited about where the next chapter will take us. We know what we want to look like and we know that we now need partnerships and collaborations to make that happen.
We are launching our global race team – the Barbarians* of the amateur cycling world – where we can ride and race together around the world, at home and on tour. This is unique and something that I think will be fun to be a part of. We have a platform in the hub to share the journey, to follow and support your global teammates.
This kicks off this Friday with the race team in beautiful Thailand at the Masters Tour of Chiang Mai and Iron Mike kicking off the UK chapter at the Surrey Race League in Ottershaw. Wishing you all the best and we look forward to seeing updates.
Personally I love seeing the inspirational photos and rides from around the world. We have always been centred around travel and we will be refocusing on this to build a forum for travel and the companies that offer amazing trips.
We will also be more focused on connecting the community with independent and entrepreneurial cycling brands and businesses. Those that see the value in communicating with a passionate audience on an agnostic and open platform.
As for the hub, it will still be a place to connect, discuss travel ideas, post rides and photos but with less of a ‘push’ as we let it organically evolve.
As we move towards the end of the year we will also start to look at financing a native app build in 2020. This will be a game changer.
I still believe we can create something unique, we now have a new direction and focus, we just need your support to help scale that up.
We are also now very open to collaborations and partnerships. At this junction, we know this is something we need to continue to evolve, so drop me an email if you want to get involved: [email protected].
Thanks for taking the time to read this, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and embarking on the next chapter. Keep spreading the Unfound love and we look forward to seeing you on the hub.
All the best,
*the Barbarians are a global, international rugby club that pulls players together from clubs and nations around the world to represent as one team. Originally a touring team they have become an institution within the rugby world.