The Ride Guides is a recreational business whose mission is to deliver unforgettable mountain bike experiences in the charming town of Santa Cruz. From guided rides, to coaching, its founder, Dave Robinson, is committed to promoting an active lifestyle, while encouraging environmentally conscious habits.
Dave had been working in conservation for about 15 to 20 years and his goal was always to get people excited about the outdoors. Passionate about the wilderness, Dave ran a sail boat for a while, where his passengers would pick up marine debris and plastic, and where sustainable seafood was encouraged. However, the program was very limited in its demographic, and costly overall, but, still committed to his mission, Robinson turned his efforts towards a unique opportunity: expanding his reach by going into the mountains.
The start of The Ride Guides can be traced to the hub of mountain biking, Santa Cruz, where Dave had spent over 30 years riding bikes before realising that nobody was doing coaching or guiding people from out of town. As a member of the local mountain bike trail organization “Mount bikers of Santa Cruz”, responsible for supporting, preserving, and expanding trail access and conscientious trail use in Santa Cruz County, David embarked himself on a journey that would later on lead to a mission-driven and lifestyle business.
As far as The Ride Guides goes, it’s just David running tours and classes for the most part, basically running the entire business alone from his home. Hence why, learning about the SBDC’s resources was helpful to provide a sense of direction, as well as structure. As David mentions: “It is fantastic to not have to increase my staff to come up with new ideas, to gain direction.”
We know how hard it may be as a small business to dedicate any time or resources to growth like investing and outside marketing, which is why it is our mission to make the process of applying for grants, as simple and straightforward as possible. In David Robinson’s case, he was pleasantly surprised to find out there was neither a follow up required for the grant, nor constraints as far as how he got to spend the money. Getting a $2500 SBDC Grant allowed him to consider the possibility of growing his business in a healthy way.
But what does growing his business look like for David? In spite of the general misconception that in order to make more money, you have to spend more money, he is very aware of his footprint, thus his choice of a tour business that involves the outdoors. In order to avoid consuming limited resources, he plans on focusing on sustainable growth by maybe getting more bookings a week, which is part of his holistic approach to dealing with the outdoors.
Part of growing a business is coming up with a strong marketing strategy to capture a bigger demographic. After meeting with our counselor Molly O’Kane, David was able to get some insight on how to get more people excited about the outdoors, and how to operate a healthy business. David is now thinking about doing a seminar for the public that would serve as an initiation for people who want to get into mountain biking but don’t know how to, as well as working on creating a newsletter to bring in more clients.
David hopes to encourage more people to profit from the beautiful scenery offered by Santa Cruz, while leaving behind a legacy of ethical consumption. The Ride Guides is proof that it is possible to run a successful business, while caring for the environment.