Deadline approaching for start-ups to submit applications to Cycling Innovation Accelerator

The deadline is approaching for start-ups to submit their applications for the Cycling Innovation Accelerator.

The Cycling Innovation Accelerator (CIA) was launched in December 2022 as a “global platform for start-ups, strong ideas, and innovations with a roster of internationally renowned industry experts and exceeded all expectations. The CIA aims to accelerate the success of strong ideas and provide unique support for start-ups in the bike world”.

Around the turn of the year 50 applications had been received and new applications are being received daily. Apply here:

The application deadline is 30th January 2023. Afterwards, the team led by publisher and entrepreneur Robin Schmitt will evaluate all submissions and identify the most promising ventures in a multi-part assessment process.

The goal for 2023 is to support up to five innovations, but if it’s only two, that’s also good, says Schmitt – they want to proceed diligently and the qualitative aspect counts much more than a shotgun principle. This also has good reasons: instead of a standardised bootcamp, there is a needs-based support that strongly depends on the individual needs of the innovation/startup.

The goal is to solve the obstacles and problems of the startups and provide them with what they need to become successful. The CIA will not take away the work from the founders, but offer help, guidance, and support. There is no fixed timeline for the CIA’s engagement, it can range from one-time support to a multi-year partnership.

A statement from Cycling Innovation Accelerator said: “The bike world is full of interesting people with brilliant ideas, small companies with great products, and enthusiastic start-ups standing at a crossroads between success and failure. However, many of them don’t know which direction to turn, either due to a lack of capital, a lack of networking and PR skills, issues with structure, or just a lack of media visibility.

“Others are just oblivious to the exceptional nature of the bike industry and the special rules that apply to it. Many aspiring entrepreneurs don’t succeed because they have no experience with building a business from scratch, nor the skills to lead it to success – whether that be leadership and finding the right staff, or processes, tools and organisational structure.

“Especially for small companies, the market entry barriers are rising ever higher, because large companies and corporations have access to far more resources, whether it’s for production, scaling, investment or marketing. Moreover, there’s a huge demand for know-how, expertise, networks and above all, capital for change and growth in the bike sector – not just for the big players, but especially for smaller ones.

“And it’s precisely the small brands, tinkerers and visionaries who make up a large part of the innovative power of our industry! At present, there’s no such thing as a global start-up accelerator for the bike world but the Cycling Innovation Accelerator is determined to change that!”

The head and president of the Cycling Innovation Accelerator is Schmitt, co-founder of 41 Publishing. Together with his brother Max Schmitt, he founded Enduro, Gran Fondo, E-Mountainbike, and Downtown as well as the Design & Innovation Award. From their own start-up, which kicked off with a €6,000 loan from Grandma Schmitt, they developed over the past 10 years what has become an influential media company in the international bike industry with over 30 collaborators worldwide and their HQ in Stuttgart, Germany.

As the CIA’s financial and legal director, experienced entrepreneur and passionate rider Erik Bötzle takes care of law and order while start-up analyst Manfred Schmitt assesses both the potential and risks of startups.

Max Schmitt is part of the international Board of Advisors, which consists of successful entrepreneurs, experienced start-up founders, lawyers, financial experts, international sales managers, business developers and marketing experts.

The board supports the Accelerator with the evaluation of product ideas and business models as well as with networking, know-how and investments. The Board of Advisors includes Bob Margevicius (executive vice president, Specialized Bicycles), Mariano Gon (global sales director, Ibis), Bastian Dietz (director global business development, SQlab), Frank Aldorf (senior strategic advisor) and Isabel Skelton (entrepreneur, digital strategist).

Aldorf said: “As a long-standing executive, strategist and brand maker as Chief Brand Officer of Specialized, Canyon and Internetstores, I’ve had a decisive role in shaping brands, products and customer experiences.

“Put simply, I’ve built brands, that other brands want to be. I’m delighted to offer my skills, expertise and network to such a remarkable innovation accelerator. I want to contribute to sharpening ideas, professionalising companies and helping them develop and grow to the next level. So: let’s roll!”

Read more: Pirelli partners with Trek Factory Racing MTB teams

Schmitt said: “There are many start-ups with strong ideas, but success requires significantly more than that. We analyse every potential applicant and offer selected start-ups the best support.”

Qualified start-ups can expect honest criticism, media coverage and, in the best case, a reliable partner on equal terms which brings along capital, expertise, experience and a network – regardless of whether their issues are legal, organisational or product-related. In this way, the CIA aims to build a defensive shield around new ideas and give founders the freedom to focus on their work while implementing them.

“We turn strong ideas into strong companies,” said Bötzle. “The C.I.A. offers a unique blend of angel investors, networking, media reach, expertise and know-how”

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