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New Portland-based crowdsourcing startup has local bike industry roots

Posted by on March 20th, 2013 at 10:52 am

Screenshot of CrowdSupply.com.

A Portland-based crowdfunding startup that launched this morning has strong cycling roots. Crowd Supply, a twist on the Kickstarter concept, was co-founded by noted web entrepreneur Lou Doctor and Scott Torborg. Doctor is also co-founder and Chairman of the Board at Velotech, which is the parent company of Western Bike Works, BikeTiresDirect.com and other e-commerce properties. Torborg is an MIT-trained hardware engineer and son of Jay Torborg, the co-founder and CEO of Velotech.

With these two and other “bike geeks” (as described by Crowd Supply Project Manager Patrick Croasdaile) on the Crowd Supply team, it should come as no surprise that two of the 10 initial projects launched by the company are bike-related. But before I get into those, it’s worth noting how Crowd Supply works.

Unlike other crowdsourcing platforms, Crowd Supply allows inventors and entrepreneurs to take their product all the way from idea to market. Crowd Supply not only manages the fundraising campaign (similar to Kickstarter with backers and an all-or-nothing premise), they also give funded projects an e-commerce website, assist with order fulfillment, warehousing, and other business development needs. Anyone can apply to be on Crowd Supply, but they have final say on which ones get approved. So it’s essentially a curated list of products and companies they believe in and want to work with going forward.

Two of Crowd Supply’s projects that launched today are notable for the local bike industry: Asylum Cycles’ Meuse cyclocross bike and the LIT tire unveiled by Bike Soles.

The Meuse cyclocross bike by Asylum Cycles.

Asylum is an old mountain bike brand that has been dormant for a few years but has re-launched now that its founder, Chris Currie, has moved back to Portland. Currie, who founded venerable online bike retailer Speedgoat Bicycles in 1997 and sold it in 2011, is Velotech’s marketing director. Currie is now behind the Asylum Meuse carbon fiber cyclocross bike that’s looking to raise $40,000 through Crowd Supply.

The LIT tire by Bike Soles.

Bike Soles is another new bike brand based in Portland that is launching via a Crowd Supply campaign. Their first product is the LIT tire that comes with a wide, reflective sidewall. Targeted at the urban commuter market, the LIT tire comes in 700 x 28 size. The tires will by a “major European tire maker” and investors behind the product are looking to raise $15,000 to for the first big production run.

Crowd Supply has teamed up with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) who has agreed to help promote the tire in exchange for a $1 donation to the non-profit from Bike Soles for each tire that’s purchased during the Crowd Supply fundraising campaign.

Project Manager Patrick Croasdaile (who recently left his gig at Planet-X/Titus) said while Crowd Supply won’t only do bike projects, “we are very passionate about the cycling industry.” “Because we’re located in Portland and we’re supported by investors who care a lot about cycling, we are a natural fit for up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the cycling community in Portland and beyond.”

Keep an eye on these projects (and future ones) at CrowdSupply.com and read more about the company from the Portland Business Journal.

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  • daisy March 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Those tires are pretty interesting! Anyone know much about the folks who designed them?

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  • Patrick Croasdaile March 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Daisy, I’d be happy to answer your questions. What would you like to know?

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  • Steve Hulme March 20, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Reflective sidewalls aren’t a new idea. Schwalbe makes a variety of tires with that option. I’m currently riding on some Vittoria Randonneurs that reflect. They’re nice, but I take even more comfort in my MonkeyLight spoke-mounted flashy light array. Now THAT gets people’s attention!

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    • Patrick Croasdaile March 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm


      The LIT tire’s main differentiator from other reflective tires is the larger profile reflective sidewall that allows for nearly 360 degrees of visibility, this is a unique feature.

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