Introducing Ronan Descy, Founder of Bike Form Fitting
Ronan Descy’s passion for all things cycling initially lead him into a fourteen career as a bike fitter. Using the same products day in and day out, Ronan became frustrated with the quality of fitting products on the market. The entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and in 2016 Ronan began to prototype his own versions, aiming to offer better products to the industry as well as his own clients. BIPC Devon spoke to Ronan about his snowballing small business success story…
For someone who doesn’t know about your business, what is that you do?
“FORM Bikefitting services a niche area of the cycling industry called bike fitting. I design, manufacture and sell products that are used to optimise the biomechanics (movement and function) of riders on a bicycle.
The products are used to adjust a rider’s contact points with the bike, primarily between the foot and pedal. With the smallest of modifications it is possible to have a significant impact on comfort and/or the potential performance that a rider can achieve on their bike. Considering a rider’s legs are the “engine”, a compromised interface can cause issues, from inefficiency to injury. These products give bike fitters a way of counteracting the asymmetry of a rider, for example a leg length difference. I operate in a world of millimetres and nuanced angles!
Of riders having a bike fit – it would be expected that most would benefit in some way by adopting bike fitting products into their setup. And importantly, the use of bike fitting products is as relevant to a cycling enthusiast keen to undertake their first club ride or event, as it would be to a professional cyclist. I sell internationally to bike fitters, retail shops, distributors as well as direct to riders themselves.”
Balancing two businesses...
“The success of my first prototypes got the cogs turning, and word of mouth created more and more demand. Over the next four years I designed an increasing number of new products whilst still bike fitting. Slowly a side business took shape expanding to become the preferred supplier in the UK, and has now successfully taken firm hold in Europe too. These products are reshaping the bike fitting industry, raising the bar of what can be achieved. The level of innovation is reflected in the mountain bike walkable shim which was awarded a patent in 2021.
Over the last four years I designed an increasing number of new products whilst still bike fitting. Slowly a side business took shape expanding to become the preferred supplier in the UK, and has now successfully taken firm hold in Europe too. These products are reshaping the bike fitting industry, raising the bar of what can be achieved. The level of innovation is reflected in the mountain bike walkable shim which was awarded a patent in 2021.”
Are there any notable challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
“The big step change in the business came about with the pandemic in March 2020. I closed my bike fitting studio and decided to make the leap, dedicating my focus purely to the design of products and seeing how far I could take the business. This change was unexpected, big and profound, but allowed me focus solely on product development.
Beyond the pandemic, an unexpected milestone was having a professional cycling teams purchase FORM products without any direct marketing. I was both ecstatic and humbled that my products are used by riders that I enjoy watching on TV. This was always a long term goal but for it to come so soon was really unexpected.
The big challenge at this point is how to scale from a one person company to an organisation that can have maximum reach across Europe, America and Asia. This demands knowledge and skills which I don’t (yet!) have, so it feels a bit like walking down a pitch black corridor. There is a balance between maintaining the product design element whilst also refining my business chops. Taking part in the BIPC Devon Business to Boardroom with James White has been a huge help in guiding me down the right path.“
When facing those challenging times, what are the values behind your business that keep you going?
“Running a start – up can be very challenging but there are some deep core values that always remain true for me, beyond the continual need for personal grit and resilience –
- The company has been built primarily to meet the needs of customers in the best way possible, ie, to be truly innovative instead of imitating
- Customer service – I genuinely care and value all of my customers and the experience I can create for them, both when engaging with my company and also their riding experience. Direct contact with customers provides a vital feedback loop to improve the way I do things.
- Continue on an ongoing basis to innovate and create and not rest on any laurels.”
Considering the future...
“It would come down to daily rhythm, creative licence, challenge, and control over output.
There’s not much I enjoy more than physically making prototypes. Thinking through making is a very exciting process for me. Other than that, variation, contrast and learning how to overcome hurdles. I like that one day I could be packing stock and the next day designing something on a computer. I like the challenge of finding ways to bring a product to market when the entire exercise seems impossible.
Working for oneself is far from easy but there is something special about creating a unique path and a business, service or product which never existed before.
But the most exciting thing about it is when something just “works”. There’s no better feeling than releasing a product which is taken up with great enthusiasm by users. Most of all I love it when the products make customers happy.“
What are your big goals for the future?
“The aim is to build FORM Bikefitting to become the primary supplier of Bikefitting products worldwide, then to expand from there to include a wider range of more conventional cycling products, but with an underlying element of Bikefitting throughout.”.
Inspired by Ronan's Story?
What are your big goals for the future?
BIPC Devon is extremely proud to have supported Ronan on his journey to success, and we want to support you too! You can follow the exact same steps by re-watching the 2022 Business to Boardroom course here!