At a time where every other start-up is the Uber of X, or the Airbnb of Y, it can be hard to weed out the visionaries from the copycats. For Greg Menshikh, the sharing economy is an enabler, but the business opportunity is what you make of it. His start-up, Ridewithlocal may resemble other sharing economy successes as a marketplace, but that’s where the similarity ends.
Ridewithlocal connects action sports enthusiasts looking for the best places to ride, with the best pros and guides in the industry. In under a year, the start-up has made waves in action sports travel, attracting 650 people from over 40 countries on to the platform, along with top sports advocates, including snowboarder Nicolas Muller.
The platform has already offered exclusive opportunities to everyday sports enthusiasts, including a surf and yoga camp in Morocco and a heli-boarding mission in Canada with top snowboard pro DCP, to name a few.
Founder Greg Menshikh shares his start-up journey with GrowthBusiness.
• Name: Greg Menshikh
• Location: London/Leeds/Moscow/Paris/Bali
• Date launched: June 2016
• Number of employees: 10
What does your business do?
Ridewithlocal connects fans (Riders) with professional instructors and schools (Locals), who provide unique and authentic experiences and adventures. Really, it’s all about Riders getting more from their adventures, wherever they go and whatever they do. If you try to find a decent ski/snowboard instructor in Val D’Isere during the high season, many will end up spending a long time going around local schools, making lots of calls, fruitless google searches, and they may not find someone or feel comfortable that they are good quality or trustworthy. Ridewithlocal changes this situation. It’s one platform that provides a range of options and allows Riders to consider various previously unknown opportunities and directly book with whoever they want. It could be with a member of a French Olympic ski team or even a National Surf Champion in Costa Rica. All within a few safe and secure clicks.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Ridewithlocal came from my own passion for adventure sports. Actually – to be specific – the idea came from a frustrating moment when I couldn’t get into the water in Portugal, to surf Concolacao! The waves were big and perfect, but the spot had a sharp reef and no one was surfing. I needed a local to show me the ropes and have some fun with. That was the lightbulb moment.
How did you know there was a market for it?
2014 stats from the US showed me that about approximately $1.5 billion is spent in ski and snowboard lessons and rentals annually. Our in-house research shows that another $2 billion to $3 billion in the same sports from the European market, with around 85,000 ski and snowboard instructors. This doesn’t include other action sports, such as surfing and wakeboarding, which are already on the platform, and many more that we are planning to introduce soon (mountain biking, kayaking etc.).
How did you raise funding, and why?
The first round was me and a few close friends (because we knew each other for over 20 years). We were all a bunch of tech-savvy action sports enthusiasts, so it made sense to us. The second round included a few more close contacts from my LBS SLOAN programme and one other private investor. Now we are excited to offer every investor, rider, local and pro out there the chance to take a real stake in our rapidly growing business via a crowdfunding campaign hosted on CrowdCube.
Describe your business model in brief.
It is a commission based marketplace. We charge instructors 13 per cent commission on total booking value. It’s that simple (in theory).
With new funding from CrowdCube, we aim to become the leading online marketplace for action sports.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
Our first big moment was making the platform live and making our first deals. It was really hard, because Ridewithlocal had no brand awareness and it was quite difficult to convince someone to sign up as a Service Provider, let alone to convince a client to pay online. Finally it happened. We never had any doubts about what we were doing and the value which Ridewithlocal holds.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Work hard, have no fear and you will get to the stars.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Riding with our clients of course, in all possible spots around the world, and in many other action sports!
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
History does not know the word “If”. Or alternatively – the way I think to think of it is – I am who I am; who else can I be?
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
Life is a fight, so..work hard, have no fear.