Megan Ramey’s BIO
Story behind Bikabout
Megan Ramey, Founder – Loves music, cooking, water sports and playgrounds.
Kyle Ramey, Photographer & Writer – Plays mean pedal steel & home brews.
Gordo, Pug – Enjoys family bike rides, bacon, beer and blogging for PugVelo.com.
Annika Ramey, Inspiration – Fanatic about monkey bars and bikes to school
Providing a gateway drug for the bike curious
After four years of planning family vacations to Brooklyn, San Francisco, Netherlands, Belgium, Athens GA, Portland and Vancouver, Megan Ramey, the founder of Bikabout, had compiled countless resources to make trips by bike possible.
where to find bikes (with children towing options);
airbnbs that provided a biking launch pad;
priority places to eat, drink and see;
which airline, train, subway or intercity bus would accommodate their bicycles.
Megan loves logistics, but wanted to centralize these resources and inspires others to rethink vacations.
Additionally, she was overwhelmed by the number of friends, colleagues and strangers who would tell her that they were interested in biking, but safety and routes were always a concern. She knew that if she could give them a fun, scenic, tasty, casual and safe route designed for novice riders, that a bike rider like this could be a gateway drug for the bike curious.
Other sources of inspiration include books like “Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene by Bike” and Rapha’s “City Cycling Europe”. Because Megan has a passion for connecting the economics of bike tourism with transportation advocacy, Bikabout pledges to donate 25% of revenue to local non-profits that make biking, walking and transit safer and more convenient.
In the Spotlight Interview
1. Please share with us the inception of Bikabout.
Megan: Five years ago, when we had our daughter, vacation planning became different because of the logistics involved. At the same time, I became keen on seeing firsthand the infrastructure improvements and reurbanization of cities.
Because of these two factors, we took trips to Brooklyn, Netherlands, Belgium, San Francisco, Athens GA, Portland and Vancouver. To plan every one of these trips, I was compiling 30+ resources to make the vacation happen: transportation with or without bikes, bike rentals, where to bike, where to stay, what to see, where to eat…I yearned for a centralized resource that I could refer to and give to friends to inspire them to follow in our footsteps.
Then last October, I took a solo 5 night hike on the AMC trail in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It was glamour hiking from hut to hut with full meals so all I had to worry about was getting myself through the 5-7 miles over the course of a day. Thus, I was stress free, purely enjoying the scenery, athleticism and my thoughts.
For the first 2 days, I let my thoughts wander, but then I began to focus on the next steps in my career, my skills and what I’m passionate about.
I had 5 big takeaways: well-being, biking, tourism, local economies and transportation advocacy. It dawned on me that if I could do for urban bike tourism what Appalachian Mountain Club did with overnight hiking, I would be totally happy.
2. Take us through a typical day, start to finish.
Megan: My husband’s alarm goes off around 6:45 am and I go upstairs to wake our sleepy, 5 year old daughter Annika and get her dressed. We feed her and our pug, Gordo, and I either take him on a walk or run alongside Annika, who bikes less than a mile to school. I then walk back home through a beautiful park and make my breakfast of cereal and French press coffee while reading old NYTimes magazines. Work usually starts by 8:30 am and I either pick up where I left off the night before or I visit Basecamp, a project management tool to see what tasks are prioritized.
Work on Bikabout currently falls into 1 of 3 camps: cartography, communications or strategic planning. But by the end of the year, I will be in serious revenue planning and sales mode.
Because I work from home, I get to make fresh lunches with lots of vegetables. Come 5:15, I need to either take Gordo on a walk or pick up Annika from school. Some nights, I have a meeting because I serve on 3 boards / committees / groups. But if not, I make dinner from scratch, we eat as a family and get our daughter to bed by 8 pm. If my husband and I aren’t sick of staring at computer screens by then, we’ll go to our office and blog, post pictures and edit Bikabout’s website.
I like to go to bed by 11 pm, but I read until I fall asleep.
3. What was the best advice you received as you created Bikabout?
Megan: A few folks in Silicon Valley told me to forget about creating an app and focus on good content designed for mobile.
4. What are your strategies for building awareness of Bikabout for the short term and the long term?
Megan: Creating an integrated communications plan is actually one of my favorite things to do!
For 2014, awareness was the biggest communications goals and I also wanted to employ the lean startup method, which involves little capital investment until you know you have a viable product or service. Thankfully, building a website, using social media and simply talking to people are virtually free! I use Salesforce to keep track of leads and Box is my file management system. Squarespace is only $20 per month and makes designing an engaging website easy! Lastly, MailChimp and EventBrite are free email and event campaign services.
Bikabout’s tagline is wander by bike, which is almost custom tailored for experiential social media. I use all of them: Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and most recently, Ello.
This past August, my husband and daughter joined me in touring 7 pilot cities to launch Bikabout, meet prospective ambassadors, connect with government officials and non-profit Executive Directors and take photography of cities. That tour was incredible for brand awareness!
What I’m the most excited about, though, is publishing the ambassadors’ “bikabouts”! Each route contains up to 14 rest stops, most locally owned businesses, which is a great opportunity to drive customers to the businesses and engage them in Bikabout’s mission at the same time.
5. What is your proudest achievement?
Megan: I’m the most proud of designing my life in a way that supports being an entrepreneur.
Every decision over the past 7 years since I closed my last venture, has been very intentional.
I volunteered and got involved with a cause I was passionate about, which was transportation advocacy.
We chose to find a house in a walkable and bikeable neighborhood.
Our daughter goes to a public school less than a mile from the house.
And most importantly for cash flows, I am an amateur innkeeper via Airbnb, which offsets our rent 100%.
No matter what happens, we are very happy.
6. What are Your Top 3 book recommendations?
Let My People Go Surfing – Yvon Chouinard
Hop in the Saddle – A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene by Bike
The Death and Life of Great American Cities – Jane Jacobs
7. What charitable causes are most meaningful to you and why?
Megan: LivableStreets’ mission of making biking, walking and transit better in metro Boston is very near and dear to my heart.
I grew up “wandering” by foot or bike and it had a huge impact on my independence and sense of adventure. My daughter is growing up in a city so the deck is stacked against her because car culture has taken over and other people think you’re crazy for letting your daughter play by herself outside for fear of child abduction. No wonder our children are more obese than ever. We have to give our streets back to people to inspire play, community and health.
8. Who has been most influential toward your recent accomplishments?
Megan: My daughter, Annika. I see Bikabout’s mission helping her and her peers have a better life one day.
9. What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are 1-3 months away from launching their business?
Megan: Don’t wait 1-3 months or make a big deal of launching.
Get the product somewhere that makes you feel comfortable, release it, get feedback and then tweak and re-release.
Time is too precious to iron out tiny details that you have no idea matter or not to your customer.