Combining job skills with a favorite hobby is working out well for two former Faithlife employees.
Earlier this year Scott Alexander and Bryan Smith left Bellingham-based Faithlife to focus their attention on 99 Spokes, an online site for bike enthusiasts. With their computer programming backgrounds, they wanted to build a website that provides detailed analysis of bike brands and helps people find parts. According to the website, users can search for more than 63,000 different bikes, including mountain and electric bikes.
What started out as a lunchtime project for Smith, Alexander and Jacob Carpenter at Faithlife now has more than three million page views a month and several part-time employees, Alexander said. Smith and Alexander started focusing on 99 Spokes full-time in April.
“We’re software geeks, but we also love bikes,” Alexander said in an interview, adding that the business is a perfect playground for them.
99 Spokes got its start after Alexander had trouble trying to replace a bent part on his bike. He soon learned that information about parts tends to disappear quickly on the internet as companies update sites when they roll out new bikes for sale.
While parts information gets online traffic, comparing new bikes has really taken off. Along with bike comparisons, 99 Spokes can help customers find the nearest bike shops to purchase the one they want.
Along with advertising and affiliate marketing, the website generates revenue by selling the information it has archived back to bike manufacturers. They are also considering expanding the website further, eventually becoming a site that also sells bikes.
The website has now become global in its reach, which means a lot of information is now on the website about bikes from other countries. However, the goal of the company is to have an authentic, Bellingham flavor to the site. Many of the pictures, for example, show bike testing being done on Galbraith Mountain.
“Everyone (in the biking community) knows Bellingham is where to mountain bike,” Alexander said. “I love this town and how much it has embraced biking.”