Just before Eurobike, Andy wrote about the annually recurring frustrations
trying to get ready. Coupled withmy late flight down to Basel the night before the show and our 5am wake up call to drive up to Friedrichshafen (with a beautiful sunrise on the ferry), you might think we started out dead-tired.
And you'd be right. But somehow, when you're at the show, you just keep going without thinking about being tired. The first day was filled with demo rides, and we set up more riders than ever before. Also important, all the retailers and media trying the bikes loved them. So that gives you all the energy you need.
Nowadays the demo day is next to the main show (it used to be far away) so during the demo day I popped in to the show halls to keep an eye on the booth build-up for both OPEN and 3T (we never have our own OPEN booth, we always team up with somebody which makes a big difference when you're as small as we are. Tough to build a booth AND do the demo day at the same time when you're just two people).
Luckily that all went rather smoothly, as did the distribution of various demo bikes to the booths of some of our friends in the industry. This year, there were OPEN bikes at THM, HED and ONZA, as well as at the Eurobike Awards display (but I already told you about that last week
That night, we actually got out of the show early, got a quick dinner at our favourite (possibly the only) Indian restaurant in Friedrichshafen and then, instead of the planned early night, proceeded to discuss our future strategy for several hours.
One thing that is not enjoyable about Eurobike is the drive to the show every morning. The road is narrow, the car volume way too large, and so every year we agree that next year we'll bring foldable bikes. But we never do. Faced with another year of annoying commutes, we decided to take our demo bikes to our hotel room and ride those in.
The night before, Andy had parked the van at the show so that we could "park" our bikes in there and then go inside. It was great to get a bit of exercise each morning and some fresh air, even better when riding past long lines of cars in traffic jams (I know, I'm not a nice person).
The three trade days of the show all followed a similar pattern, with a combination of pre-planned and ad-hoc meetings. The latter are quite tough, as somebody will come to your booth and try to talk to you about a product or service they are offering. Obviously most of these are crap or at the very least useless for OPEN, so your standard "mode" becomes defensive and not engaging.
But some people are super interesting. The problem lies in distinguishing between the two. And unfortunately it's the crap that is usually peddled by very persistent people, while the interesting stuff comes from the shy, nerdy types that don't insist on using some of your time if you're not immediately enthusiastic. So you have to be very careful or risk losing out on things, as these are projects usually not on view on any stand.
I had a few very interesting meetings that way, but obviously I can't tell you any more about it. All the evenings were spent with mediocre food and more strategic discussions that significantly ate into our sleeping time, but I think we really figured out where to go with OPEN in the next years. And not to worry, we'll continue to work hard to stay small.
Friday night was the only exception, as we went on a big group dinner with great food, although the service was hilariously chaotic. Some dishes arrived that nobody ordered and I still didn't have my food when the rest of the group had already finished - only to discover that somebody else had eaten my dish instead of one of those unordered dishes that they had apparently ordered after all. Regardless, it was fun, and I got to eat everybody's left-overs until I got my own dish in the end - just not the one I ordered.
Final day is the consumer day, not normally my favourite but also a lot of fun this year. With lots Dutch, French, Italian, British and of course German consumers flocking to our booth, it was quite the cacophony. Despite the small setback of throwing my back out that final morning, it was a great show for us, although I got to leave a few hours early to catch the ferry and then train to Zurich Airport for my flight home.
Andy's "teardown" was also quick, just tossing the bikes in the van, so in the end he made it home before I did. And now, Interbike awaits.