Book A Cycling Tour
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on LinkedIn Share on Email
Biking and working: full time jobs

Cycling Blog

Biking and working: full time jobs

Tweet This
Share This
Outspoken! logo

August 12th, 2015

This is part 3 of our biking and working series. For this instalment we got in touch with Rob King, MD of bicycle delivery company Outspoken!

Rob first appeared on our radar when we featured in an article called ‘Why cargo bike deliveries are taking over the UK’s cities‘, where his company was described as ‘eschewing the motor vehicle in favour of pedal power’.

Outspoken! boasts an increasingly large customer base, zero emissions (and a saving of 45 tonnes of CO2 to boot), and is contributing to the ever-increasing popularity and practicality of cycling.

We first discussed motivations for setting up the company. The inspiration came when Rob was hitch-hiking, and got picked up by a guy who runs Green Link a similar business in York. Their chat and Rob’s lifelong attraction to outdoor pursuits in general convinced him to “give it a pop”. He enlisted the help of his brother and set up shop in the cycle-friendly city of Cambridge.

Their logo

Though bike couriers are not a new phenomenon, Outspoken! are at the forefront of a technological boom in the industry. Rob is involved in the development of vehicles and equipment, often liaising with manufacturers and advising developments and identifying needs as and when they arise – helping to define the industry while they deliver.

Being at the forefront has its pros and cons, though: “it’s not like starting a delivery company and buying a Transit van” he says, “the equipment we want doesn’t necessarily exist yet”.  Increasing delivery speed, route efficiency, and security of the fleet through tracking devices are primary concerns: “we professionalise on the go”.

A guy riding a delivery bike

One of the fleet bikes in action

The Outspoken! fleet contains over 20 bikes of 7 types ranging from ordinary bicycles with panniers to trikes with, to electric-assist behemoths that can carry up to 250kg.  Their numbers and functionality continue to expand as developments are made and custom grows.

Each member of the fleet sports bright red livery designed to make the whole delivery a striking and memorable experience; stickers saying “delivered by bike” are included on packages for the same reason, to ensure the element of intrigue remains if customers didn’t actually see the delivery.

Rob explains that part of the fun is challenging the perception of what can be delivered by bike. In the article we mentioned at the beginning he explained his pitch process: “we’d go into companies and say, ‘We could do these deliveries.’ They’d say, ‘Don’t be ridiculous, you’re on bikes.’”. This is the attitude that Outspoken! take pleasure in questioning. “I know we can be quicker than a van, and we can get where traditional delivery vehicles cannot” he says, “we just need to get industry expectation to match”.

Restricted access

Getting where traditional delivery vehicles cannot

Persevering with his initial technique of walking into shops and pitching directly to the owner proved fruitful: Rob says that 80-90% of business comes from contracted repeat customers, with the remaining 10% made up of ad-hoc work and some daily pick-ups. He says lawyers are a keen source of custom.

People receiving packages by bike courier seem excited by the prospect – especially if they didn’t know it would be delivered by bike. Tapping into this novelty, leveraging the positive engagement, and demonstrating that the method is capable of reliable and safe deliveries is  Rob’s priority.

You can follow the Outspoken! journey on Twitter.

And in case you missed the previous instalments of this series:

Part 1: desk jobs Part 2: from the road


Leave a Reply

Sign Up For Updates

* indicates required