SHaun Lowthorpe, Business editor
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
When Ian McGregor’s late wife Linda was diagnosed with cancer, the 51-year-old turned to a long-held ambition to ride a motorbike as a means of escape from the enormity of the challenges the couple faced with her illness.
Sadly Linda passed away last December, leaving Ian – who had worked in London advising large corporations on computer software systems – wondering what he would do with his life and crucially how he would look after his teenage son Charles at their home in Reepham.
The answer came via a pub conversation with his friend Chris Wheeler who runs the SEO company Metal Frog, who suggested he turn his new-found passion for motorcycling into a business.
It led to the creation in September of Moda2Ride, a start-up online business with Ian the main dealer for Italian motorcycle clothing and accessory specialist Dainese.
“Linda’s family lived around here and she wanted to be close to the coast,” Ian said. “I worked in London mainly with large US corporations. I was one of those people who went away most of the week and came back at weekends. But two-and-a-half years ago my wife was diagnosed with cancer and she died around Christmas.
“She did everything at home, she did the school run and looked after our son and did all the cooking. After she died I couldn’t go away to London for three or four nights, I couldn’t even go overnight. So I started looking around for something.”
It has been a tough year for Ian, whose parents have also recently passed away, but he said the new start-up venture gave him something to focus on.
“You have got to put your drive into something, otherwise you are just sitting around at home, but the support I have had from friends has been fantastic,” he said.
“What I am really into is motorbiking. All through I wanted to ride, but both my parents and Linda had said no.
“But when Linda was ill and there was nothing I could do, she understood that I had to get out.
“Biking is such a community, people may be diametrically opposed and come from all walks of life, but once you are on a bike, there is a bond.
“I love Dainese’s stuff. It took me five months to set up the website and buy the products.”
Customers can buy the complete range of Dainese goods online from a £10 key ring to a £2,500 race suit.
“Being online, my market isn’t Norfolk, it’s the UK and global,” he said. “I’ve got Spanish and Italian customers and I can accept dollars and euros. My target audience is a biking enthusiast between 30 and 65 years old.
“My long-term goal is to open up a retail unit and my business plan covers that and it covers employing about three staff in a year.”
But he said one issue was finding someone to advise him.
“I searched high and low for months for help for start-ups for someone like me.
“If you are under 21 there are so many grants available, but eventually I was awarded a £500 start-up grant from Broadland District Council.
He says would-be entrepreneurs would be to take the plunge.
“Do something you are passionate about,” he said. “Be sensible with the finances and then have a go.”
Tell us about your start-up business. Contact business editor Shaun Lowthorpe on 01603 772471 or email@example.com