Jessica Schiller – Founder & CEO of Schiller Bikes
We took to the water with today’s guest, Jessica Schiller, the founder and CEO of Schiller Bikes. Described by Forbes as “the world’s most radically redesigned bicycle,” Jessica’s water bikes have revolutionized cycling as we know it! They have been featured on “The Amazing Race” and used by international pro athletes and renowned personalities such as Michael Phelps, Conor McGregor and Princess Charlene of Monaco. You won't want to miss this episode to hear more about Jessica’s inspiring journey. On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow
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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be, I want to just sort of make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked out knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara golden show. So join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone. Its Kara golden from the Kara golden show. And I am so excited to have my next guest here who is the founder and CEO of Schiller bikes. Jessica Shiller, welcome.
Jessica Schiller 0:56
Thank you, Kara. It’s great to be here. Good morning.
Kara Goldin 0:58
So excited that you’re here. So just a little bit about what we are going to be talking about today. So Jessica, as I mentioned, is the founder and CEO of Schiller bikes, and prior to founding and creating this incredible water bike technology that she worked on as co CEO of Iko agency. They are an incredible company that is revolutionizing our cycling adventures and taking it on the water. Maybe some of you have seen it out there on the Bay in San Francisco, where we both live in Marin County, but they’re they are over by the ballpark. So you may have seen them. And then all over the world. She’s got all kinds of different places where I’m sure Jessica will share more about this. But it’s just this incredible invention that she has developed that is also lots of fun and great exercise. So definitely check it out online as you’re listening to this too. And the bike has also been featured in Forbes and The Amazing Race and on Jimmy Fallon. And it can also be found in leading hotels. She also just mentioned that it’s going to be at Cavallo point in Sausalito. So for those of you who have ever been there to that incredible resort, it will be there soon. And her mission is to utilize the blue space on earth to create the new form of recreation. And I think she’s definitely done that. So welcome, welcome. Very excited to hear more here. Where did you grow up? How did this all start?
Jessica Schiller 2:43
So I grew up in Los Angeles, you know, typical la family, dad was a doctor mom was an artist. And you know, from an early age, I think one of my earliest memories that was five years old, and I was in a garage with a childhood friend, and we were making some goop you know, Cheerios, and glue and paint and what kids do to make something right. And I remember saying this is going to be the best thing ever, everyone’s gonna love it, it’s gonna be a sensation. And I as I grew up, I think I became a little snarky or a little more rebellious. And I remember my mom saying it would be a great lawyer. And that kind of stuck in my head. I’m sort of the Jewish mother trying to get me to be a lawyer, because I wasn’t going to be a doctor. And I kind of went down that path for many years. And it took me a long time to get back to get back to making something which is something that I’m so passionate about. But I grew up in a very, you know, pretty good life. I never wanted for anything and went to school back east. I went to law school. When I was younger, my 20s I served in a combat unit and the Israel Defense Forces. Oh my gosh, era, that two? Very different. Yeah. And so here I am today.
Kara Goldin 3:53
That’s why what kind of law were you practicing? I was just curious. I
Jessica Schiller 3:56
was practicing corporate m&a and private equity in Silicon Valley. It was right after the bust in like early 2000s. So it was a strange time to come out of law school and be practicing. But I was grateful to have a job. I had a young family. And I ended up really not liking it. I didn’t like working in a law firm. I didn’t like being behind a desk. And so I started this quest for finding my truth and really what I wanted to be as I got older,
Kara Goldin 4:22
I love that. Well, I’m married to a recovering lawyer. So it’s, it’s the same kind of thing, right that you, you know, definitely. It’s never a waste of time, I guess what you’ve learned and in that world, for sure. But it’s, it’s I think, more than anything, trying to figure out what you really want to do and is the most important thing. So you’ve got a couple of ad agencies after being in law. And one of the ones that you were talking to me about was at Saatchi and Saatchi sustainability. Do you want to share a little bit more about that adventure
Jessica Schiller 5:02
is shores. So at the time, I was doing executive coaching and corporate training on my own, and I got a call one day from the husband of a college friend of mine, his name was Adam Orbach. He’s still a great friend. It’s like family. And Adam is a very prominent environmentalist. He was the youngest president of the Sierra Club. And he started to explain to me about how he had just decided to engage with Walmart. This is the mid 2000s. It’s, you know, what many people call, you know, sort of the cannibal of the planet, that world’s largest retailer, the world’s largest employer, and certainly in the country, as well. And the goal was to somehow transform the culture of Walmart, to orient around sustainability and help it reduce its carbon footprint, eliminate waste, and just be kinder and gentler to the planet. And this is when Lee Scott was the CEO of Walmart and Sam’s Club as well. And so he asked me to join him. And we started to do this. Yeah, really the world’s largest grassroots initiative, to educate and inspire and teach people about sustainability. And it went on for many years, it was a great project, it was so inspiring to me to go to places all across America, which many of us never really have the, you know, the time or the or even the desire to do but there’s so many amazing, wonderful people working, you know, at Walmart stores. And so at the time, once we had the engagement, and it was often going, we got acquired by publicists, the communications conglomerate, and we rolled up into Saatchi and Saatchi, the global advertising agency. And we formed Saatchi and Saatchi sustainability. And the focus was on working with, you know, large companies and brands to orient them and transform them towards sustainability and a better future for people and planet.
Kara Goldin 6:56
That’s amazing. What was probably the most surprising thing that you learned along the way. Yeah, I mean, whether it was whether it was actually around sustainability or working with large companies, or what was kind of, do you recall like anything? killer? That was kind of shocking.
Jessica Schiller 7:16
It was a surreal experience, Kara? You know, it was three of us, you know, coming from San Francisco to Bentonville? I don’t know if you’ve ever been to
Kara Goldin 7:25
Well, my daughter in there. Yeah.
Jessica Schiller 7:27
The glass bubbles, it’s quite an experience.
Kara Goldin 7:31
Oh, and by the way, quite a bit. It’s so probably since the beginning that you’ve been there. I mean, their museum is incredible there. And, you know, it’s grown a lot. But definitely back in
Jessica Schiller 7:44
the early days of mid 2000s, you know, you feel like you’re walking up into a brick Middle School. And we’re in the C suite of Walmart. And for me, that was a really a first experience. You know, I’ve worked with a lot of executives over the years, but to be in the C suite of the world’s largest company, and to see the humility of the people who work there was really quite surprising to me, and also inspiring, you know, and I worked with, you know, really the top executives at Walmart. And, you know, everyone was so dedicated to transforming that company for good. And they really meant it, you know, wasn’t lip service. And so, you know, that was one big surprise was how much they really meant by us because so many people thought that they were just greenwashing in the beginning that this was just a, you know, brand ploy, let’s make Walmart look greener. But underneath it, they really were sincere about it, and committed to it. And so, you know, that was one big surprise. The other one was, you know, when you go to a, you know, 100 plus Walmart Supercenter stores, distribution centers, and you really talk to people and you connect, you know, our mandate was to make sustainability not just a corporate mandate, but something that was relevant to individuals lives. So I spent so much time sitting with some of the most genuine, you know, hard working people in America, you know, who are working, you know, at Walmart stores, many of them making minimum wage. And really just having the gift of meeting really good, humble people who want it to be a part of something bigger, they wanted to see change, not just for the for themselves, but also for the company and for their customers. So that was so endearing to me. And I’m actually, you know, just so honored and privileged to still have a friend who I met in Colorado, she was probably in her late 50s. When I met her Her name is Jan Bennett. She’s such a wonderful soul. And we’ve remained friends ever since. And she continues to inspire me and support me in my journey. And so that was just it’s just continues to be a surprise and you know, how much people actually adopted it and continue to hang on to this concept of sustainability.
Kara Goldin 9:53
That’s amazing. I think that the biggest challenge of sustainability overall is people don’t always know what to do. It is right that it’s it’s like a word where I think they, they want to be a part of it. But there’s so many different elements. And obviously, I think I always think the challenges of somebody like Walmart to in dealing with sustainability is there’s so many different measures of it all over the world. I mean, I wish there was a checklist of 10 items, or whatever, you know, for the sustainability. So I think it’s incredible that somebody tries to do it. But I think it’s always, you know, a little bit challenging. So, yeah, but such interesting work. So then you decided to start on this journey for starting Schiller bike. So take, take me back to where did this idea come from for this amazing, fun thing?
Jessica Schiller 10:47
Yes. Well, I think there’s always a good story behind wild, big ideas. And I really, I love yours, you know about water and water being boring. And for me, you know, it was another story about water. So we’re closely related Cara is water. So at the time, I was running a different agency, I was called Ico that I had left Saatchi to go open up. And I was part of a big networking groups seen CMOS senior executives from companies all across America. And I was doing a tour under the Bay Bridge. And this was in 2012. Right before the span of the Bay Bridge, connecting Oakland to the Yerba Buena treasure island in the middle was just I was just about to open up. And I’m bobbing up and down on a boat underneath the bridge. And the tour guy was talking about how, you know all the cost overruns and rusting bolts and the scandal and all of that telling a good story. And he mentioned that for the first time ever, there would be a bike lane and a pedestrian path, but it would stop halfway across the bay. And it would take another decade and something like a half a billion dollars to retrofit the West span to make a contiguous bike lane from Oakland to San Francisco. So I live in Marin, you live in Marin? You know, we both know that everyone rides across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. No big deal. Right? Right. I didn’t. And I’m not a big East Bay person. Was that that I don’t like that. You say I just haven’t spent that much time there or certainly not living there. And so I turned to my friend, Carl Isaac, who was then the head of innovation for Adobe, and he lives on Lake Merritt. And I said, Carl, have you ever taken your bike ridden your bike across the bay? And he said, he thought for a second? He said, No, you sit with your bike on BART or the ferry, and that’s not really riding. And we started laughing. And wouldn’t it be cool if you could ride your bike down to the water’s edge, click into something, float the bike and propel yourself across to the city or vice versa, from San Francisco to Oakland. And so we were you know, having some good laughs about it. We were going to this big networking event at IDEO that evening. And I couldn’t get this idea out of my head, cara, you know, and I tried to keep talking with him about it. And he went off to go do his thing. He had people to meet. And I went home that night, infected obsessed with this idea of Has anybody ever done this? How would you make this work? And I couldn’t shake it. And the best way to describe it, you know, having a sort of a big idea. Like that was I felt it in my body. You know, I really heard my intuition. I felt it, I felt like there was something there. So I spent the night researching Aqua bikes and Aqua cycles and bikes floating on water. And it took me a little while and I started to see this rich history actually, from the turn of the century, some really clever, you know, sort of big orbs, floating bikes and people in suits and women in long dresses. And so the idea of making a bike work on water wasn’t new. Ultimately, I found that inventor in Milan, who made a da Vinci asked kind of kit to attach to a land bike or a mountain bike. So I sent him an email and we started talking and is this thing really work is it for Rio, and I believed him enough to wire I don’t know, 1000 euros to Milan. And he never really sent many wires before. Now he said that I’ve sent 1000s of wires. My whole life feels like it’s in wires. So one day I get the kit. This is maybe a month and a half, two months later. And this is in 2013. And I was shocked at how difficult it was to put together. It was so difficult. It was like the worst customer experience. You know, you’re you’re suddenly I’m so anxious as a customer to get something I really want. And there’s these directions and there’s all these little pieces and you needed a screwdriver and I’m not a mechanical person care I never write and it’s amazing. I actually pulled this off because that’s not my forte but I had my brother in law come over, help me out. Got it together. I take it down to the beach in Sausalito. A couple weeks later, maybe. And the first time I got on this bike, well first of all, it wouldn’t work with any bike that I had. I had to go out and buy an Italian bike because the whole thing was machined for a European thin steel rail bike, so my track my Cannondale, it wouldn’t fit on anything. So just been another 800 or 1000 on a bike. And the first time I got on it, I just wasn’t centered and I flipped over the handlebars. This is like classic founders journey into the water. There was some people
Kara Goldin 15:32
I was gonna say into the water and we’re in where you went in at least it was you know, the bay can be treacherous actually at points. I mean, were you were you a sailor or were I mean, like rode bikes?
Jessica Schiller 15:48
I was Yeah, I was never an avid cyclist. I mean, here in Marin County, there are some hardcore cyclists right, right and know the all the ins and outs of bikes and components and all the trails and I wasn’t that person. I was a watersports enthusiast. I mean, I love scuba diving, I enjoy surfing, I’m I love swimming. So I love being in the water. I love being on the water. Later, I found out why I love being by the water so much. It’s not just the fun, it actually has a real calming effect on me, but also every human being and it’s called Blue mind. It was coined by a marine biologist Wallace Nichols, who talks about just 10 minutes on the water or near the water every day decreases stress increases creativity, a sense of well being. So water has a really profound effect on the neuroscientific workings of our brain. So that’s part of the reason why I loved it. And the second time I got up, and all of a sudden I got the hang of it. And I was cycling across water. And the feeling is so different than paddling. You know, we’ve all been in kayaks, we’ve all you know, been on stand up paddle boards. We’ve all been on like paddle boats and parks and Disneyland clunky plastic things. This felt more like riding a bicycle on water. And I noticed that there was some women and there’s young children on the beach in Sausalito. And some guys jogging past everybody stopped and took out their camera. And that was like the first point of validation of there’s something to this. And that’s where this crazy idea came about. Once I kind of got the hang of it and did some more time on the water of why not make the first ride from Oakland to San Francisco, as I call it a stunt to show a new form of alternative sustainable transportation in the Bay Area. Everyone’s on the bridge sitting in traffic, everyone’s miserable, doing that awful commute. Why not be on the water getting a nice workout being outside in nature. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Put your headphones in, and it’s only three miles. So it’s a short bike ride.
Kara Goldin 17:53
That’s wild. And so you did. So when was the first time once you got it in the water, then when did you actually make that trip to Oakland? Because I would imagine you’d have to have the right conditions on the water. Yeah, so
Jessica Schiller 18:04
I did some practicing. I did some trial runs. I was completely foolish one time I went out. I think it was summer in San Francisco, which is cold and foggy on the bay. And I made it about halfway across and some of the screws on this old Italian contraption came off. And I was completely immobilized sitting in the bay and it’s big swell and it starts to rain. And I have no way of moving and I don’t have my phone with me. I have nobody I can call. And I waited there for probably about 30 or 40 minutes until a guy I’ll never forget it. It was Nathan’s oil and lube little like tugboat came by and he’s looking with such a perplexed face like who is this person on a bike in the middle of San Francisco Bay? Then he was kind enough to come by and asked me if I needed the hand and I said yes, thank you and you pull the bike up and try to take me to the Coast Guard Station on yerba bueno. And they wouldn’t let me get off because it’s a closed base. So we ended up taking me to Fisherman’s Wharf, I’m exhausted, I’m where I learned my lesson. And then a couple months later, it was September 2013. And I really planned You know, it was it came from the world of marketing and media. And so I let the media know that I’m going to make the first bike ride across San Francisco Bay. And it was a gorgeous day. It was like Thank you. So perfect blue skies, calm water. And I did it and it was incredible. And then two weeks later, I happened to be going to a networking event in New York City. And I biked from Hoboken into Manhattan. And there was so much media more than there was in San Francisco. Global Media. And that’s really where I started to believe if media likes this and they’re willing to cover this. They’re wanting to cover it, because it really ticks off so many boxes. You know, it’s healthy, it’s environmentally friendly. It’s human powered, in so many things that is very, very visual for journalists to cover. So that’s when I reached out to the inventor and I said, Hey, I’d love to be a distributor For you, and he was so irate that I had received all of this media coverage that he stopped talking to me. And so of course, then, you know, I was younger, of course. And I said, I’m gonna go out and make the world’s best water bike. And that was my vision, and I was hell bent on doing it. And, you know, it’s nice to say that as an entrepreneur, it’s another thing when you have to start writing checks, your own checks, and fluently and big checks. So I found a couple of great industrial designers, I found my first mechanical engineer, and we started off on this endeavor, it was January 3 2014, what does the world’s coolest basketball bike look like? How does it function? What does it need to do? And so we did this whole research phase, and it was really was so much fun. And it was so invigorating for me to just kind of get back to what I wanted to do when I was five years old, as a kid, you know, wanting to be a maker, after a lifetime’s lifetime, half a lifetime, my adult life of being in services, which were great, I learned so much, I had so many wonderful experiences. But I always wanted to invent something. And so for the first time, I was actually fulfilling my truth. And so it was amazing. And when the first prototype came out, it was like, Wow, it’s like, giving birth to your new child, you know, it’s really so
Kara Goldin 21:21
well, and it’s it, I think that having a, I used to be in the services business as well, and tech versus having a physical product, there’s something about a physical product that is, you know, very fulfilling in so many ways scary, the more you know, supply chain, and all those issues that are out of your control. But I think it’s, you know, when I remember watching the first bottles kind of roll off of the assembly line, and the excitement around that is just, it’s hard to describe to people who have never had physical product as part of their brand, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you agree, I really just Yeah, you’re like, Oh, my God, it’s here. It’s so exciting. So
Jessica Schiller 22:05
and especially that first time when you don’t really appreciate the complexity of making something and as you mentioned, no supply chain. And for us, it was engineering, it was a complex water bike that had a lot of parts, a lot of components, everything, you know, nothing in the bike world is made for saltwater. So it was really a lot of pure invention of how to make a bike, not feel like paddleboat at Disneyland, but to actually feel like you’re riding a bike. And that took so long, and I failed. So hard Kara, you know, it really was humbling, they brought me to my knees sometimes is when you put so much money into something this is before any investor would ever write me a check. You know, I think I tried to get money off a PowerPoint deck with some renderings. And I’ll never forget one prominent VC, you know, I went to go pitch him. And he was just like, this is the dumbest idea ever. It really,
Kara Goldin 23:02
and also, you’re developing a new category and a new grind. Yeah, and so being I always share with people who have never really thought about this in particular, that you’re not just an entrepreneur, but you know, you’re also a category builder, which I think is is even more challenging because people are not where you’re at. Right? They haven’t caught up to where you’re at. So you have to bring those people without alienating those people, whether it’s a team or investors or whatever, that is so, so sorry, I had to jump in and kind of interject on that. But So tell me about that a little bit.
Jessica Schiller 23:42
Yeah, I mean, that was the thing. So investors were didn’t even know what I was talking about, you know, in their tech, you said there was no category, I was foolish for thinking, you know, I’m going to make this it’s going to be so amazing and cool. Everybody in the world Kara is gonna love this. It’s so obvious to me. I mean, the way I saw it was, you know, the planet is two thirds water there are, you know, over a billion bikes built all for land, you know, why not connect the two. And so to me is the founder was so obvious that this was, you know, as most of the largest, most congested cities in the world are built on bodies of water, be it San Francisco or Hamburg, or Paris or Tokyo. You know, so everyone’s gonna love this hotel, they’re gonna love it, retailers are gonna love it. But like you said, when you’re pioneering the category, they have no concept of how to sell something. Right. So at that price point, and I’m competing with kayaks and stand up paddle boards, and, you know, watercraft that are a lot less expensive that are, you know, plastic molds, basically. So I had a really revolutionary product and the market was absolutely not ready. And we’re not for the media. You know, I think it was 2014. Late in 2014. I’m running out of money, I’m flat broke. I’m a single parent. I’ve got three little kids. I put everything into this company and somehow I got connected to a journalist from Forbes and ended up doing an interview and a demo. And she wrote a fabulous article. I’m forever grateful to her, and basically coined it as the world’s most radically redesigned bicycle. And that was how I was able to turn the lights on on the website and start settling what was then like early prototype never should have sold it. They’re collector’s items now, whoever. But they were huge. They were clunky. You know, another big issue that I never accounted for was just like logistics, like, how do you ship something that weighs 110 pounds, and the cost involved and all over the world. So my first customers were like the Crown Prince of Dubai, Prime Minister of Qatar, and Lord Norman Foster, the preeminent architect, we design Apple campus and a million other amazing structures, amazing designer, and he’s a friend, a good mentor for me. And so it just took a long time, it took so much longer than I thought, as this ambitious entrepreneur who thought it was going to be, you know, the next hot thing instantly, and it wasn’t. And so being able to stay with something to continue to chase your dreams, you know, it’s a fine line between, you know, obsession, obsession and determination. And I was obsessed for a long time, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been humbled as an entrepreneur through this process of, you know, making a product and just getting it into the hands of customers and managing and all those sorts of things that you know about. And slowly but surely, you know, media, more media started to come on. You mentioned Amazing Race. We did two amazing races, one in the US. And one was a Chinese version. More celebrities, some pro athletes, you know, Michael Phelps was on it on Shark Week, I think it was 2015 or 16. And because it just it is it’s a great product. I mean, ever everybody loves it. I’ve never had a customer that said, this is okay.
Kara Goldin 26:57
Yeah. Love it. Well, I’m, it is such a very, very cool thing. So what are like, what are the things that I guess over the last, you know, 18 months in particular over? over COVID? I mean, what what big surprises changes? Do you feel like it’s made for your company overall, I mean, I feel I just had Amanda Freeman, I don’t know if you know, Amanda, but she’s the founder of SLT. And also this brand called stretched, which is primarily actually on the east coast. And she, her podcast hasn’t come out yet. But she was talking a lot about, you know, the industry as a whole, like she had, she had, you know, lots of physical buildings that people were going into to do the platform’s that she’s grown. And now she’s working more and more to bring it into people’s homes, because it’s just been so challenging. And so she was, you know, talking about just how the world has really changed as it relates to exercise. And I think more and more people do want to be outside. So obviously, you were already there. You You know, it’s people feel like exercising outside is safer, whether or not it is at all times or not. I think that there’s this perception, but obviously, you have you’re dealing with other countries developing your product, have you been really focusing on bringing that more local? Or what are some of the challenges overall that you feel like, we’re, we’re pandemic, I guess, you became more aware alert of of those issues or, or overall,
Jessica Schiller 28:40
I mean, it was a brutal, it was brutal. I mean, for a company that manufactures in Taiwan, and components in China, it hit there first before anybody here was talking about it. And so all of our manufacturing shut down. So the first part of 2020 was absolutely brutal. We had no product, nobody knew what was going on. People certainly weren’t racing to spend $5,000 on an amazing bike that’s worth every penny, but there was no big you know, race for them because the world didn’t know what was going to happen. And so it was really difficult. And of course, just you know, balancing being a founder and CEO with being you know, a mom of three kids and them having their own lives. It was a really difficult time for me honestly, as a, you know, the human and also as, you know, founder and CEO, a couple of things started to happen. I think it was around June of 2020 is that all of a sudden, people realize that there were no movie theaters, and there were no bars and restaurants and fitness centers, gyms clubs all shut down and so little by little people started reaching out. And we had such a little inventory because we couldn’t make any bikes in first part 2020s so we had a little bit of inventory. Some, you know, longtime customers, some close friends interesting people were like Like, Hey, I’m here in Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard or in Ibiza. Do you have any bikes and so it started to pick up slowly, very slowly but surely. And then in September 2020, someone emails me as a customer of mine, said, Hey, did you see on social media that Conor McGregor notorious MMA, the UFC champion fighter is riding on your bike, with princess Charlene of Monaco, from Corsica to Monte Carlo with a 24 hour 100 mile race, and he’s posting on Instagram. And this is incredible. And you had no idea I didn’t have an idea that we’ve done several pro charity races in Monaco that were sponsored by princess Charlene. You know, for her charity, we raised over a million euros each time for her foundation. And we have so many pro athletes around the world rugby players, big wave surfers Formula One champions. And it was that’s a whole other piece of this, which is the racing on Schiller bikes is incredible. It’s no different than any other bike race, it’s on the water people are athletes are competing. So I’ve been there a bunch of times helping to make this happen. And so this one was, Wow, I didn’t know about this. And that’s okay. It doesn’t really matter to me, as long as people are using the bikes for good use. And it really gave the brand a huge lift. I mean, he has like 37 million followers on Instagram, and he’s posting every week of him on the bikes riding around for a second. So that really changed things. And at the same time, you know, we had to close their offices here in Moran, there was no point. You know, as a, you know, we’ve always we’ve been a startup for so long, it feels like forever, I think someone told me once that company makes it to eight years, it’s not going to go out of business. So we’re just about an eight years, but it’s been a long struggle and never having enough capital always, you know, trying to bootstrap and be scrappy, which is what you have to do sometimes. And so I you know, really had to downsize everything. And at the same time, our manufacturer in Taiwan who had been working with us for several years and making great product, basically offered to act is our fulfillment center. So and it was something that I always knew is we can’t keep making bikes in California, it was too expensive. We shouldn’t be touching bikes, we just need to be you know, design sales market and drop shipping. Yeah, yeah. And so when they offered that it really changed the equation because it meant I didn’t need to have as nearly as much overhead and staff to generate the same amount of revenue. So I’ve got a great team that I work closely with in Taiwan, and they ship all over the world from Kuwait, to Korea, Denmark, Massachusetts, California. So that really shifted things and it made things easy going into 2021. When we finally were able to start generating some products, supply chains have been terrible. Because just like us, every single bike company, watercraft stand up paddleboard kayak, they’ve all been pumping out so many bikes and product that as a small company very hard to get production windows to actually make our bikes. So flips one side is this is fantastic. The other side is I can’t actually get product for five months, and the lead times are incredible shipping rates, as you know, have gone through the roof. Yeah, over the past year or so. Some of the challenges. Yeah.
Kara Goldin 33:24
What do you think you would have done differently? If you would have known that the pandemic was coming? I mean, what would you were you were you, you know, hitting yourself in the head going, Wow, why didn’t I do that? I mean, were there any kind of moments?
Jessica Schiller 33:38
Yeah, I mean, I surely wish that I had, you know, maybe produced more inventory ahead of that. And that would have helped to get through the year. Because I really felt bad. I mean, you know, we’ve got so many people and once people get on the bikes, they love them, you know, I want to get one for my brother went to get one for my father and his cottage in Muskoka. And so it’s summertime and I, you know, when people want something, they don’t want to wait until winter to get it. So I really wish I’d taken more capital and bought a lot more inventory. And, you know, ultimately, Kara, I wish as a founder, I really spend more time, you know, really evaluating the staffing than I really needed, you know, where people really pulling their way where they really, you know, generating the kind of revenue, you know, per staff member to warrant having them on. So, I wish in hindsight, even before 18 months, years ago, you know, if I had been more patient as an entrepreneur, you know, if I spent more time maybe working some of the kinks out instead of really having to scramble to turn the lights on for fear of going broke. You know, there’s so many Gosh, I wish I had I wish I had ultimately I’m here now I’m grateful that the company has managed to weather a terrible storm as so many people have fallen from that we’re able to keep doing, you know, amazing things.
Kara Goldin 34:59
I love it. Well, you’ve created an incredible, incredible product that is so much fun. And like you said, it’s not just about for the individual, but also bring smiles to people’s faces who are watching it on water, and definitely very excited to see what the future holds for you as well. And really appreciate you doing what you’re doing. And and also just love hearing the journey of coming from a totally different industry into into this industry and letting people know that it’s possible because I think so often we’re, you know, we think like, we have to be in the, you know, working in the biking industry or working in, you know, a certain industry in order to do something a little bit different, when actually innovation is coming from something totally, and somebody totally different.
Jessica Schiller 35:55
Yeah, yeah, I mean, and, you know, that’s the thing that I also want to just call out, you know, for any entrepreneur, I happen to be transgender. So, you know, for any aspiring entrepreneur founder who is LGBTQ, you know, don’t let anyone you know, give you shit, you know, and like, chase your dreams. And, you know, keep persevering. And just be true to your heart and your beliefs.
Kara Goldin 36:18
I love it. Well, I think that that is and and also just owning it. Right and who you are. And that’s an awesome, awesome thing. So well, thank you so much. Where do people find you to Jessica, tell tell us not only Schiller, but also you.
Jessica Schiller 36:34
Yeah, so Jessica Schiller calm, I’m actually starting to do something that I’ve always wanted to do, which is to take my message of a lot of crazy experiences, points of adversity, being an entrepreneur, being transgender, and sharing it with public audiences. So I’m doing more public speaking now and I love what you do and your message of hope and inspiration is inspiring to me. I love watching you. So Jessica shiller.com Yes, Jess SF on Instagram. Schiller bikes is everywhere. Schiller bikes calm and Schiller bikes on Instagram is where you’ll see amazing happy faces from all around the world. And it’s just a fun tour of our planet. That’s two thirds of water.
Kara Goldin 37:14
I love it. So great. Well, thank you everybody, for listening. And if you liked this episode, definitely give it five stars. And subscribe to the Kara golden podcast. And we’re here every Monday and Wednesday with really, really cool founders and CEOs. And sometimes people who are not founders and CEOs that just have amazing ideas and cool messages that do inspire and help us think about things. So you are all of the above Jessica so amazing, amazing. Thank you for for coming and and hopefully everybody got some good tidbits out of this time together and have a great rest of the week, everyone. Thanks again. Jessica. Thank you so much, Kara. Look forward to having you out. before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara golden and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara golden thanks for listening
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