Wahoo's eye-catching rise has see it appear in Apple Stores worldwide and link up with Team Sky. BikeBiz speaks with Wahoo Fitness Europe's sales and marketing director Kevin Abt on the future of the brand, connective devices and the future of wearable tech in fitness...
The UK is the biggest market for Wahoo behind the US. Why?
The UK is seeing impressive growth for us. We are only five years old but we had a big success with getting into Apple Stores three years ago. We went from being a local US brand to going global quickly – straightaway you could buy Wahoo in any Apple Store.
The UK market is easily number two for us, for a couple of reasons. First, the UK market is growing. There’s great awareness of cycling and a fantastic community.
Secondly, we’ve been with Team Sky for 15 months and while the brand has cache around the world, it is particularly strong in the UK. We’re an official supplier to Team Sky and they work with us – it’s a huge deal and they have supercharged our growth.
From 2013 to 2014 we grew eight times over. We’re a young company so we started from a low base, but 2014 was spectacular. 2015 won’t see that level of growth again but our ambition is to double business in 2015 – that’s without any new products this year – it’s just about us telling our story better. We are very excited about it.
Rumour has it there are two significant launches coming up...
For the last four years at Eurobike Wahoo has had some presence and there will be some announcement at the show connected to the cycling market. It will be a logical addition to our existing range.
Wahoo won a Eurobike award last year – was that a big deal?
It had a great effect. With so many new launches at the show it’s a case of how do you stand out? The Eurobike Awards add legitimacy. Our European dealers were excited but it was also helpful in new markets outside the region. It is a great conversation starter.
What’s your best seller?
The Kickr Power Trainer is our biggest performer. It’s been on the market for two and a half years and we did a lot of groundwork on it before it launched. Now we are seeing that story play out.
Is it fair to say connectivity with plenty of other devices is integral to Wahoo products?
Connectivity is at the heart of us. When we came into the sector we took a view on the market that there were some fantastic, well-established brands but they had not embraced smartphones.
In the [Apple] App store there were many apps, and just a handful of top notch ones. If you buy Wahoo you have a selection of apps to choose from including Strava, Map My Ride, Cyclemeter and more. We did not want a closed system. We’ve had plenty of people reaching out to us so we now support App developers with a development kit.
It’s hard to be good at both hardware and software. If you’re big like Apple you can manage it, but we’re obviously not that large so we chose to focus on hardware.
Have you any thoughts on the future of cycling tech? What about the growth in wearables?
We’re at the very start – there’s so much more to go.
Apple’s Watch will benefit everyone in that space – they have started the wearable device conversation with consumers.
The question now is: Who can own a niche in that market? We are dedicated to a high level attitude – the serious cyclists, serious runners, etc and we will look at gym-goers. The hours they spend exercising – how can we help you make the most out of the time you spend working out and training? How can we give you accurate data so you can see how you progress? When they have the numbers and statistics, what do they do with it?
We deal direct with retailers and we’re looking for quality over quantity, for well trained partners who appreciate premium.