Five minutes with: Shotgun

This month, BikeBiz sits down with Dan Necklen, co-founder of Kids Ride Shotgun

Can you give us a little background on Shotgun?
Shotgun started in 2016, when I was looking to take my three-year-old son riding, and I couldn’t find a child seat suitable for my full suspension bike.

So I asked my friend and product designer Tom to make something for me, and it kind of escalated from there. All of a sudden, Tom and I had friends asking where to buy the product, and the local newspaper wrote a story about us after seeing one of our Facebook posts – and that’s when it kicked off.

We launched the shotgun seat in New Zealand first (we’re based near Rotorua), then Australia before taking on the US and UK. More recently, we’ve added a tow rope to our range, hired Trev Worsey to head up our UK and EU operations, and we’ve also started selling into Europe. We now have over 2,000 retailers globally, and it’s been a wild ride so far!

What makes Shotgun unique? What does it offer that its competitors perhaps do not?
The Shotgun seat helps families share more riding adventures, create beautiful moments, and encourage an early love for the outdoors.

It’s fully adjustable to fit a wide range of mountain bikes, has full rubber frame protection on all points of contact – and once you’ve taken it off your bike, there’s no clamp or adaptors left on your frame. It’s also different to most child seats, as it’s for kids aged two to five, and encourages active participation, teaching valuable riding skills.

We also have a pretty unique handlebar accessory, essentially a small set of handlebars for your little one to hold onto so that they don’t play with your gears or surprise you by operating your dropper post mid-ride.

What is your distribution model, and how could UK IBDs go about stocking Shotgun products?
We’re distributed by Velobrands, and we’re super grateful to have 470 stores stocking our products in the UK. We also sell online via our website, but we never discount – and we often find that customers want to buy from their local bike shop so that they can see it in the flesh – and make sure it’s going to fit their bike.

We also make a point of having exclusive retail only products from time to time, like our seat + bar combo pack, which for the first few months were only available in retail stores.

What sort of feedback have you received from the industry?
For the most part, the feedback has been awesome. In New Zealand, the front-mounted seat idea isn’t new – it’s been around for 20 plus years, so parents and bike retailers are pretty comfortable with the concept. In other markets, it’s a newer idea, so we have to do a bit more work.

Ultimately, we’re on a mission to raise the next generation of mountain bikers, plus get more families into the sport, and thankfully most bike retailers see what we’re trying to do and are keen to get behind that vision.

For customers and retailers who are on the fence, we find they’re able to be persuaded once they’ve had a try riding Shotgun with their little one – it really is an awesome experience that’s pretty hard to explain in words, you just have to try it. We often have customers tell us it’s the best mountain biking purchase they’ve ever made.

In a rather bizarre twist of fate, COVID-19 has provided a significant boost to the cycling industry. What impact has it had on Shotgun?
Like much of the bike industry, we’re grateful to have experienced solid growth due to the bike boom. We’re also a little bit fortunate in our particular child seat niche, as we don’t deal with traditional bicycle component suppliers, so we haven’t been heavily impacted by supply chain delays.

Another positive is that we also managed to launch a kids ABC book called ‘Shred Til Bed’ during the lockdown – designed to keep kids entertained when they couldn’t get out and ride their bikes, so overall, we’re really fortunate.

What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
We want to help raise the next generation of mountain bikers, and we’re keen to provide parents with all the tools to make doing that easier and more fun. For 2021 and beyond, we have many new team members to recruit, and we also have some epic new products in the pipeline.

We can’t wait to share what we’re working on, but for now – we’d like to say a massive thanks to our team, our customers and our retailers for getting behind us. We’re looking forward to what lies ahead!

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