RISMEDIA, April 22, 2010—Boulder-based real estate agent Matt Kolb lost a deal in 2006 when a client bypassed him and found a private seller while riding a rented bicycle around town. Though he missed out on the sale, the loss sparked a stellar business idea: Leading clients on bicycle tours of neighborhoods as a hook to engage and sell.
By June of 2009, Kolb’s brainchild, Pedal to Properties, was operating out of a small service office in Boulder with four agents. Kolb knew the business had great potential as the depressed real estate market, stale infrastructure of national brands, and rising environmental awareness left the perfect microcosm for a fresh real estate concept to emerge; but he lacked the capital to take it to the next level. He also knew that he had created the ideal blend for a hot business model today: A health conscience-focus, in that business owners/bike enthusiasts are attracted to healthiness of the brand; green-conscience, in that there is an environmentally-friendly component to the business; and an easily marketable business model that can be added to an existing business to add buzz, support and stronger infrastructure to it.
That recipe proved to be the solution to the lack of capital when one of his clients, Tim Majors, an Australian entrepreneur, expressed an interest in the company, Kolb jumped at the opportunity to get Pedal to Properties the cash infusion it needed. “I thought I was moving to the States to retire,” says Majors, “but I saw something unique in this business that I couldn’t pass up.”
Though this is his first venture into real estate, Majors knows a thing or two about growth opportunities. He took his last business, Wooldridges, an educational product retailer, from one location with annual revenues of $5 million to 20 locations with sales of $60 million in less than a decade, then sold it to a private equity firm in 2007.
In July of 2009, Majors took a 50% stake in Pedal to Properties and began implementing plans for growth, starting with a new corporate headquarters. Later that summer, the company moved to a 2,800 square-foot location in downtown Boulder with plenty of space for bikes out front. By April 2010, it housed 25 agents with room to add another 15 by year’s end.
“We put bikes with our logos in local hotels for guests to rent, free of charge. All they have to do is fill out a waiver with their name and address, which we can then use to follow up with them, answer any questions, and hopefully implement future relationships,” says Majors, discussing a key marketing strategy they have put in place.
The re-invention of Pedal to Properties didn’t stop there. Through the Fall of 2009, Majors worked with Jose Perez, president of real estate consultancy PCMS and former senior vice president of franchise sales at Realogy, parent company to Century 21, Coldwell Banker and Sotheby’s Real Estate. Together they created a franchise infrastructure and Web presence that would blow competitors out of the water. In a few short months, Pedal to Properties was registered for franchise sales in 36 states and will be fully registered in all 50 states by summer 2010. The first two locations were sold in Northampton, Mass. and Sonoma, Calif., thus demonstrating the brand’s coast-to-coast appeal.
“Our Northampton franchisee, Craig Della Penna, just happens to be a biking enthusiast and local real estate agent,” says Majors. “That’s the kind of franchisee we’re looking for: boutique agents in urban or vacation towns looking to differentiate themselves from the antiquated stereotype of real estate sales,” adds Perez.
With an affordable business model and a quick rate of success already in motion, including two franchises already on board, Majors says he expects to reach 20 by end of year 2010. To prepare for that anticipated expansion, Pedal to Properties invested heavily in franchisee support programs, including a Web 2.0 and social media platform fit for an agency 80 times its size.
“We convinced Terabitz, a Silicon Valley-based real estate website and database builder for firms with as many as 2,000 agents, to help us create a next-generation Web platform and social media tool that will both attract new franchisees and support rapid growth,” says Perez.
In addition to its Web platform, Pedal to Properties offers franchisees six months of agent recruitment training by PCMS, teaching them how to corral the best talent in their local markets.
“There are several trends that are coming together in our favor, making this the perfect time for a brand like Pedal to Properties to succeed,” says Majors. “Americans are more concerned than ever about the environment and their health; they’re resonating back to urban living where bikes are an increasingly popular form of transportation; and they’re looking for housing bargains. It’s the perfect storm for us.”
For more information, visit www.pedaltoproperties.com.