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Founders' Series: Trust Your Gut

July 2nd, 2024 | by Robby Ringer

If Carina and I had listened to what our focus groups and interviews with cyclists said initially, we would never have started Bivo. Seriously. We would have nixed the whole idea almost immediately.

This may feel like a simple statement, perhaps an overstatement. It is not.

Back in 2018, we had our quintessential “lightbulb” moment for Bivo. Saying we were overwhelmed with excitement is a bit of an understatement. As two people who love coming up with ideas and had already set our minds to starting something of our own, a fresh idea that hadn’t been tackled yet was dreamy.

I remember the first few weeks of living the Bivo dream as pure excitement. The kind when it becomes nearly impossible to break yourself away and focus on the ‘other stuff’ (you know, current jobs, the ones that pay the bills and such).

Looking back, I’m shocked we took the time to create focus groups and do the countless interviews with friends, friends of friends, and random cyclists off the street. We were in pure tunnel vision mode led by an idea that seemed too good to be true.

We said to each other constantly “Seriously, no one has created a metal sport bottle for all the activities we love? We have to go really fast on this idea.”

Regardless, we did focus groups and interviewed as many people as possible. I’m sure people thought we were insane dreamers with nothing better to do than daydream up how the world needs “JUST” one more water bottle.

If Carina and I had listened to what our focus groups and interviews with cyclists said initially, we would never have started Bivo. Seriously. We would have nixed the whole idea almost immediately.

This may feel like a simple statement, perhaps an overstatement. It is not.

Back in 2018, we had our quintessential “lightbulb” moment for Bivo. Saying we were overwhelmed with excitement is a bit of an understatement. As two people who love coming up with ideas and had already set our minds to starting something of our own, a fresh idea that hadn’t been tackled yet was dreamy.

I remember the first few weeks of living the Bivo dream as pure excitement. The kind when it becomes nearly impossible to break yourself away and focus on the ‘other stuff’ (you know, current jobs, the ones that pay the bills and such).

Looking back, I’m shocked we took the time to create focus groups and do the countless interviews with friends, friends of friends, and random cyclists off the street. We were in pure tunnel vision mode led by an idea that seemed too good to be true.

We said to each other constantly “Seriously, no one has created a metal sport bottle for all the activities we love? We have to go really fast on this idea.”

Regardless, we did focus groups and interviewed as many people as possible. I’m sure people thought we were insane dreamers with nothing better to do than daydream up how the world needs “JUST” one more water bottle.

Bivo one cycling water bottle
Bivo metal cycling water bottle

The Bivo crew hard at work building the firstBivo One prototypes and leading focus groups.

The Bivo crew hard at work building the firstBivo One prototypes and leading focus groups.

What did we hear when we sat down and listened? A crushing blow to what we thought was the best idea we had ever had.

“I don’t buy water bottles; I have a cupboard full of free plastic bottles.” 

“I get mine all for free from events.”

“Metal? That is going to be way too heavy for biking. You’re crazy.”

“This is just another water bottle no one needs.”

I’ll be honest, these statements from the people we trusted, and the public, rattled us. Or at least they rattled me. I cannot speak for Carina’s feelings, but as a fan and witness to her stubbornness, I’m guessing she was annoyingly less rattled than I was at the time. Regardless, we had to sit there and truly ask ourselves if we were going to go against all this data.

Let’s stop here for a minute and talk about data. I love data. I’m that person in our business. I’ll painstakingly admit I thrive on it. Yet, somehow, I prioritize casting it aside at times and going with my gut. If I had listened to the data, Bivo wouldn’t exist.

Carina and I had a challenge ahead of us. Do we go forward or let Bivo slide into the void destined for some random folder called ‘MISC’ on my computer? You know, the one where ideas go to die, right next to ‘Taxes 2015’ and ‘Old Photos’. Yes, I have this folder.

I started writing this with the idea it would all be about trusting your gut. As happens, I’ve realized it was so much more than that. Trusting our gut was about using more than one data point and a little bit of saying ‘heck with it.’ I think that is the key. Lay it all out on the table, as they say. Analyze your focus groups, talk to anyone that will listen to you about your idea, research the market, know the competition, build prototypes, tinker with your idea, and get to know your customer.

Still, I now realize all the data points were fragments that did not tell us what to do. No data can make the leap for you. I believe no matter how good the data looks, how deep you go into analyzing, you must do what we did and eventually: look at each other and say F#&k it, let’s go.

Thanks for your time and support. You all are amazing!

Robby

PS – Reach out, comment below, ask questions, and let us know what else we should write about. I love this stuff and look forward to hearing from you all! 

What did we hear when we sat down and listened? A crushing blow to what we thought was the best idea we had ever had.

“I don’t buy water bottles; I have a cupboard full of free plastic bottles.” 

“I get mine all for free from events.”

“Metal? That is going to be way too heavy for biking. You’re crazy.”

“This is just another water bottle no one needs.”

I’ll be honest, these statements from the people we trusted, and the public, rattled us. Or at least they rattled me. I cannot speak for Carina’s feelings, but as a fan and witness to her stubbornness, I’m guessing she was annoyingly less rattled than I was at the time. Regardless, we had to sit there and truly ask ourselves if we were going to go against all this data.

Let’s stop here for a minute and talk about data. I love data. I’m that person in our business. I’ll painstakingly admit I thrive on it. Yet, somehow, I prioritize casting it aside at times and going with my gut. If I had listened to the data, Bivo wouldn’t exist.

Carina and I had a challenge ahead of us. Do we go forward or let Bivo slide into the void destined for some random folder called ‘MISC’ on my computer? You know, the one where ideas go to die, right next to ‘Taxes 2015’ and ‘Old Photos’. Yes, I have this folder.

I started writing this with the idea it would all be about trusting your gut. As happens, I’ve realized it was so much more than that. Trusting our gut was about using more than one data point and a little bit of saying ‘heck with it.’ I think that is the key. Lay it all out on the table, as they say. Analyze your focus groups, talk to anyone that will listen to you about your idea, research the market, know the competition, build prototypes, tinker with your idea, and get to know your customer.

Still, I now realize all the data points were fragments that did not tell us what to do. No data can make the leap for you. I believe no matter how good the data looks, how deep you go into analyzing, you must do what we did and eventually: look at each other and say F#&k it, let’s go.

Thanks for your time and support. You all are amazing!

Robby

PS – Reach out, comment below, ask questions, and let us know what else we should write about. I love this stuff and look forward to hearing from you all! 

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