Hey, elevated entrepreneur! This week we’re starting our Retail Entrepreneur Series where we interview entrepreneurs from the retail business industry. And I’m so excited to have the owner and CEO of Wolfi’s bike shop, Wolfgang Hohmann, more lovingly known as Wolfi, on the podcast with me! Today’s episode is all about how Wolfi started his bike shop, how he moved from Germany to Dubai almost on a whim and what made him so successful here in the region for the last 20 years. We also talk about the Wolfi experience, the amazing work culture their organization has maintained in the store, and even the cycling revolution going on in the UAE right now.
- The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast – https://andystanley.com/podcast/
- The School of Greatness Podcast by Lewis Howes – https://lewishowes.com/podcast/
- NPR – https://www.npr.org/podcasts/
- Hidden Brain – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hidden-brain/id1028908750
- Wolfi’s Bike Shop website – https://wbs.ae/
Connect with Dhiren:
- LinkedIn – https://linkedin.com/dhirenb
- Facebook – https://facebook.com/dhirenbh
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/dhirenbh
03:54 Wolfi’s life in Germany and how he discovered his passion for bicycles
05:32 Working in the hospitality industry and how that served him when he started his bike shop
10:28 How his bike shop started as a wooden shed in his brother’s car repair place
12:10 How being laid off led him to pursue the bike shop business fulltime
13:44 What made his bike shop so unique in Germany
16:31 A story of how his shop helped save his customer’s marriage
17:35 Wolfi shares his life purpose and how people can find their purpose
22:00 Being part of the cycling community in the UAE
23:09 Why he decided to move to Dubai from Germany
24:42 Wolfi’s Bike Shop’s humble beginnings in Dubai
30:21 The original vision for Wolfi’s bike shop and how it has grown into what it is today
33:25 The Wolfi’s experience and the focus on good service
36:56 The company culture in the organization
43:29 The must-haves when choosing the right team to work with
48:53 The importance of the role of technology in any business and how it changed Wolfi’s
52:41 Why Wolfi believes “Retail is not dead.”
55:36 Meeting the royal family and having royal connections as friends and customers
1:00:26 What makes Wolfi an elevated entrepreneur?
“If you really love something, then you never have to go back to work if you have a job like this.”
“It’s helping people. It’s not only helping customers but also my team, taking a great amount of joy from seeing people growing in my company. I have people I’m working with for 15 years; they have become from young men to fathers, married, successful business people themselves, and growing along with all these people, it’s great. And then obviously then helping people getting a bicycle. Getting fit, improving their lives, I think giving is something very rewarding.”
“Just live your life and don’t leave anything behind. I’m really trying to give as much as I can because at the same time, once you start giving you get so much back in return. And if you look after other people and be grateful for all the opportunities presented and you’re happy and you try really to help as much as you can, I think that’s a good mantra for myself to live my life.”
“If you find something in your life where you’re truly passionate about and you can bring this to people, go for that challenge.”
“People come here because they trust in our expertise, they trust in our work. We need to do good work and be known as a good shop and that’s nice, and it’s a nice compliment. But we have to re-earn the trust every day over and over again. It’s only rented trust, you’re not owning this for the rest of your life, you need to refresh this every time in dealing with every customer, that’s important.”
“Everything I know I would give to my team. And I’m not holding back with anything. I would give them all the ideas on how we do the financing, how we do the purchasing, how we do the selling. I wanna make them as good as I can, I’m not holding back any information.”
“Die empty… If one day I had to go, I want to have that feeling where I’ve given everything I could, and I’ve given everything to all my team, I’m just here for them because giving is an important part of me.”
“It’s all about getting better, and getting coached, and we could coach each other every day.”
“The energy that you put out to the world is what you get back.”
“In a business or in any organization, it’s the team that moves forward as a unit. It’s everybody moving together as a very well-oiled machine, and you can’t feel the gap because the team is so tight. and that comes from the conversations that you are having, coaching both ways. not just from manager to employee, but the employee also to the manager. Because it’s about respect, and it’s about giving each other the space to say, I trust your opinion.”
Thank you for listening! I hope you enjoyed this episode and I’d love to hear your feedback. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and help me improve or if you have someone in mind that would be a great guest on the show, feel free to recommend them via email.
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Thanks and lots of love,
[Wolfi 0:01] You know what it is, I think it’s helping people. It’s not only helping the customers, it’s helping my team. I’ve taken a great amount of joy from seeing people growing in my company I have people I’m working within 15 years, they have become from young men to fathers, married, successful business people themselves, and going along with all these people is great. And obviously then helping people getting a bicycle, getting fit, improving their lives, I think giving is something very rewarding.
[Dhiren 0:36] Hello Elevated Entrepreneurs, it is so nice to have you on the show for another episode. This episode is the beginning of the Retail Entrepreneur Series. Now over the last few episodes back in November and December, we ran two special series one called the Coffee Entrepreneur Series, and the second call the Food Entrepreneur Series. And if you haven’t already, head on over to elevatedentrepreneur.fm, where you will get access to all of these episodes, plus a whole lot more together with show notes and transcriptions. Today’s episode marks the beginning of the Retail Entrepreneur Series. And I’m actually very, very fond of the retail business because my family came from a retail background and they ran a retail business here in the region for over 30 years. And in fact, this is why my wife and I started our very own retail business in Toronto. And there’s so much that we learned from running our own retail business. So today’s episode is with a phenomenal gentleman named Wolfi, who runs the bike shop here in Dubai called Wolfi’s. Now I say bike shop lightly. But believe me when I say Wolfi’s is an institution when it comes to biking here in Dubai and also the surrounding region. Wolfi’s is an amazing bike store along Sheikh Zayed Road, which is our main highway. It’s gleaming, it’s huge. And it’s a bike lovers paradise. Wolfi himself has a phenomenal track record in bicycling. In fact, he’s also cycled with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed recently, and he proudly represents the UAE here in the region. Today’s episode is all about how Wolfi started the business, how he moved from Germany, almost on a whim. And what made him so successful here in the region for the last 20 years, and how he continues to enjoy that success. And what specifically are the reasons that make Wolfi so good at what he does. We talk about the store the origin story, as well as the Wolfi experience. So if you want to check out all of these things, stay tuned. Join me, let’s cue the music.
[Dhiren 2:44] You’re listening to the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast, a podcast designed to help retailers, restaurants, and entrepreneurs simplify business operations and use modern technology to elevate their business. here’s your host, Dhiren Bhatia
[Dhiren 3:03] Wolfi a very, very big welcome to the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast. It’s so nice to have you here.
Thank you so much. It’s an honour to be on the show. I think it’s great. And I love podcasts. So I think when you told me about your show, I was keen, and I wanted to share this story with the listeners. So thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me today.
[Dhiren 3:24] You’re very welcome. And I know you’re a podcaster yourself. And I’m going to make sure we refer to your podcast in our podcast show notes. It’s great to talk to a fellow podcaster again, thank you.
[Wolfi 3:34] Thank you very much.
[Dhiren 3:36] So Wolfi we were just talking off-air that you have a beautiful store, just along Sheikh Zayed Road for bikes and everybody who loves bikes and knows bikes knows Wolfi’s is a brand name. And I know the store started in 2001 Tell me what happened before 2001 before you started the store. You moved from Germany. Is that right?
[Wolfi 3:56] Yes, correct. I had a bicycle business in Germany for many years. And actually, I started quite early with selling bikes and trading bicycles. My original is in the hotel business. We call this apprenticeship and driven Hotel which means everything around hospitality and hotel. I have another apprenticeship as a chef, so I know as well as how to cook and prepare a nice meal. Wow. And during that time, I had a passion for cycling. A few days ago a friend was here who we together we kind of started that at the end the hotel to give the bicycles to our customers to entertain them during the time in the state was a beautiful hotel in the Black Forest in Germany. And so people rode their bike and I was like 1617 years of age and wanted to get some money to buy myself a car. So I looked for opportunities. And so I started to trade bicycle so I worked five days a week into the hotel had two days off these two days. I used to open my little business first with my brother, a long time with my brother, but as I was 16 seven I couldn’t really make a trade last. And so he helped me with this. And he had a car repair place. And this is how I started and really started with one bike where I saved some money. I could buy one bike, and I sold it and sold another bike and sold it again. And one day, I had enough money to buy two bikes. And so I started this business next to my regular work. And a few years later, we have a few more bikes, and I’m in Dubai, and I’m 50 years old. Now.
[Dhiren 5:26] I have so much to know about this is a phenomenal story to share. So what year is this that you started working in the hospitality industry?
[Wolfi 5:34] 1986
[Dhiren 5:35] Wow. Okay, and this is in Germany and you wanted to buy a car? Did you know what car you wanted to buy back then? Did you have one in your mind?
[Wolfi 5:42] No, it was just obviously, there was nothing about a new car, I was just, I wanted to be mobile, this would be great. If I can have a car when I’m 18. I can have a car. And that was the motivation at the beginning. But you know, when I realized soon that bicycles are something very special, obviously, coming from the restaurant and hotel business. I was always very focused to deal with customers. And I really enjoyed that. Because in the hotel, people come and you present them everything to have a good time with you. You learn to serve customers. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think that was a good mentality. I learned when I was very, very young, to help people. And the bikes were great, I could help them being sporty, I really love to cycling myself. And I just introduced it to people, it was just a natural thing. Obviously, they wanted to keep the bike, they wanted to ride a bike, we rented them to our hotel guests, and they say, Hey, I love it. I want to own one. So it’s okay, we can sell you the pie. And that kind of continued over the years. And obviously, in Germany, you go to the army to do other jobs. Then I was just well interested in nutrition. And I want you to understand sports a little bit better. So I worked in a clinic. The clinic was well a benefit. Because I started very early. I started my day normally to work at about five o’clock in the morning to prepare food for the people in a hospital. And I was finishing at about two o’clock. That was one of the shifts. And it was great because I could open my bike shop in the afternoon until six or 637. And then I had another job where I was working in a sports studio-like bodybuilding studios at the beginning. And I was kind of looking after the reception and giving the drinks, the protein shakes and things. I was working there normally until nine or 10 o’clock when the gym closed. And it was a great way to introduce customers to my bicycle business. So there was always a different kind of things to look at. And then I went into work in the morning in the clinic. So it was good to have a safe place to start the business. I could grow the business on the other side. Obviously health insurance and everything that Social Security was done for my job in the hospital and everything else I did. I needed the funds, obviously grow the business organically to what it is today.
[Dhiren 7:45] And so this is back in 86, you started working at the hotel and these bikes that you talked about were these high-end bikes. Why did the customers love them so much?
[Wolfi 7:54] At the beginning, this was just one mountain biking started all around the world. Actually, it was quite basic bikes. They were of good quality. We were conducting an Asian company in Taiwan, and they delivered us good bikes. It was good equipment at a fair price. And we started it was different. I mean, the mountain bikes didn’t have suspension, and it was just an aluminium or steel frame. So looking back, obviously, it’s quite nostalgic to see what components we had used at that time. But no, it was fantastic. And I have even some customers when I go to Germany 34 years later, they still have the bike. So they were really good quality. It seems.
[Dhiren 8:28] Wow. Wow. So at six, you’re working in a hotel, you’ve then graduated come into a clinic, but you’re still running the bike store on the side. How long did you run that bike store for?
[Wolfi 8:39] Since the beginning, it was just growing. And we sold it three years ago. It was different stages. First, it was honestly speaking really nothing. It was just like a few tools and a repair chair. And I had a few little things. And then it got more serious. And then my brother was helping me a lot of selling sometimes bikes and I was fixing them. Then during the days, I was in the shop, and it got bigger and bigger. And then I was working in the hospital, there was the reformation of the health system in Germany. And then they had to cut down a few jobs. And I was one of the ones who lost his job at that time. Because I was young and married I was very well educated with my apprenticeships. And then you had my own businesses that listening to what we can socially responsibly lay off and you will find the job. We’re not worried about you. That’s good and bad. And obviously, this was quite stressful. I remember I had sometimes even kind of nightmares when you wake up and you feel like Okay, can I do this? I had sometimes the feeling I was dreaming that I had to go to the hospital to work and I had to do my job in my bike shop and it was quite a stressful time because obviously, you’re growing, you have a family. You want to provide your family with these things and you need to really work hard because the competition in Germany was quite big and I needed to really put everything on the line with now going full time, be self-employed, but obviously, I never regretted that step. I never regretted that. Well, the times which were challenging, I think we really learn a lot about ourselves when we go to the challenging times. Indeed, yes.
[Dhiren 10:09] Those are some of the best lessons you learn in life, when you’re put through a challenge or a hard time, those lessons are never forgotten. So I want to ask you how big was the store when you were laid off from the hospital?
[Wolfi 10:20] It’s actually quite nice, because you don’t have to pick up I was there again, and was actually, my brother had a car repair place. And in that car repair place, I built a little wooden shed, like a farmhouse. We had some clothing there. And we had some accessories. And this is where it really kind of started only a few square meters, I would say maybe like 10 square meters. I had a place where I could put the bikes and I could move this around. My brother, I needed to repair the costs. And so the business grew, and we changed location a couple of times. It was a small business, me and my wife, she was helping me. But she had still at her job. And I was just repairing bikes, I did everything from the repair from the selling from the ordering from the bookkeeping, you learn it’s a small business. But the good thing is you really learn everything I needed to understand I needed to be very efficient with what I’m doing. And then the business was growing each and every year, we had nice growth.
[Dhiren 11:13] Indeed, as you were saying, right, as an entrepreneur, you learn everything. When you’re starting something up, you learn to be the check collector, the delivery boy, everything, the mechanic you learn to be everything. And those are the things you remember any story you tell.
[Wolfi 11:27] Yes, absolutely. And I still enjoy a lot to go to the workshop. I like the technical side of the business. And obviously, now bikes have evolved so much this breaks, we have electronics with this, and I really enjoy it. Sometimes if I need a break from my office chair, then I get up, I walked to the workshop, I had to mechanics a bit sometimes maybe help, just the gear shifting system. And I think I can still, once in a while I have the opportunity to show a little bit of my skills, you lose a little bit if you don’t practice these things, you lose it, but it’s good to see and get familiar with the new technology, which is just as human, it’s so nice. If you really love something, then you never have to go back to work if you have a job like this.
[Dhiren 12:05] Yes, not a job anymore. So what year was this when you got laid off from the hospital?
[Wolfi 12:11] Could be in 9294?
[Dhiren 12:15] Okay, so 94 you’ve now become full time at this bike shop, your wife’s helping you in and out. And the business is growing. And I know you moved to Dubai shortly after? When was it that you moved to Dubai?
[Wolfi 12:26] When I was 30? So 2002.
[Dhiren 12:28] So there was quite a while in between? And you were running that store there in Germany? Yes. And when you left in 2002, how big was the business in Germany at that time? How many people did you have?
[Wolfi 12:39] quite a substantial, we had two people working with us and my wife was full time with me. And we had our daughter she was four. So it was a small bicycle shop like you have it in Germany. So every little village normally or maybe two or three villages have one bicycle shop and you look after the community obviously there’s a lot of repair for the families, for some sporty people not liking was quite big. But it was, I think a community like in Germany, they need a bicycle store in every village like in the supermarket, they need a butcher, they need somebody to cut their hair. And so I think that’s it’s kind of an enclosed community. That was our duty, we had quite a good reach. Because we were known for a good product with a known for good service, we had good people coming travelling for quite some distance, we were close to the Swiss border, we were close to the French Quarter, which was good because people could come from Switzerland and buy different products with us, which was always nice. It was a good business. Not to compare here where we now I think we had 50 people now in Dubai, and obviously covering the region with our products. But no, it was good. It was a good time.
D[hiren 13:43] Of course, to answer my question already, I was gonna ask you what made you so popular back in Germany? And I think you answered the question by saying a wide variety of products and good service. Was there anything else you thought that made you guys really stand out in that market?
[Wolfi 13:58] I’ll always go back to the hospitality. I think this is a key thing. And I think we’ve all been in the five stars six or seven style hotels who have been there and you walk in, and you get that special feeling. Somebody really deeply cares about how you feel and how you would be treated in this place. And so I think this is something we always wanted to get across to people that they feel like we’re in a five-star hotel. That was the key. I learned this as a young man in my apprenticeship. And I think this is something which was always kind of my heritage.
[Dhiren 14:31] And as a sidebar, I have to say that the minute I walked into your store, we were there for some work. I can tell you that I felt that right away. There’s something about like you said walking into a hotel and just being welcomed and being given this caring approach, which I think is very visible and you’re so so well done for having that here and carry that forward all of these years.
[Wolfi 14:52] Thank you. No man, I’m obviously very, very thankful to my wife. To all my team. Very lucky that I have surrounded myself. We’re working every day with them to get the mindset across, it’s really something special. And obviously, the bike industry, it’s very nice that we can help people get fit, we have to burn some calories. And I think especially in the times of COVID, it was very difficult that people obviously were locked in the house, they couldn’t go to the gym, some may be a bit depressed about the whole situation. And I think Cycling is something really important. For myself personally, as well, I couldn’t have survived by with the speed of Dubai without the bikes, obviously, in two senses. First of all, from the business, I’m doing, but at the same time, for the sport and for the benefit I’m getting from cycling. It’s really a switch off for me when I’m on my bike, and I can refresh myself and I can release some of the energy, which is maybe a little bit making me tired. I always like to compare this with like falling asleep. It’s like you lay in bed and you think about your day, and suddenly you fall asleep and you wake up in the next morning. It’s similar. Something happens when I’m on the bike that I’m riding. And somehow I don’t know when that moment comes when it refreshes my brain. But then suddenly, I’m finished with the ride and like, Oh, my God, it’s good. And I forgot everything which happened. Yeah, because you need to focus him and you’re going fast. to a certain extent, you’re writing with other groups, you’re speaking with people. And then kind of that moment when you put that reset button is something very special. And we speak to a lot of people say it’s so nice, especially now in the last year, it was so amazing. When people came to the store and said, Listen, you changed my life. And it’s something very special. And one lady may have to tell that story. I told it many times, but it’s something which really touched me when she came to the store and said, okay, was worth it to me. How can I help and I just wanted to come to see you because you saved our marriage. Wow, that’s it. Okay, slowly. Now, I need some more information. Now we have my attention. Listen, we came here to Dubai, four years ago, my husband had to work a lot, we bought a house, it was a lot of stress from a mortgage. And it was not good. And I mean, he gained so much weight, he was out of shape. We just kind of drifted apart, it was not good anymore. And a few months, we showed him a bike, and now he’s starting to exercise. He has this thing for himself. He is a completely different person. And I think we’re so much better now than we were like a few months ago. And I said, Oh my god, it’s amazing. And I mean, it’s a lovely story. And I’m so happy that this really made such a difference for you and your husband. But I think it’s really important for people to discover somehow exercise, running, cycling, whatever it may be for them. I think it’s important that we all find this in our life.
[Dhiren 17:21] 100% I have a question. And I want to take you back to Germany for a few seconds. But before I go to that question, what you just said, I think it struck a chord in me. And I want to ask you this because this is a question that I’ve been asking myself lately. Our life purpose, what are we born for? What do we do every day? What do you think? Is your life purpose?
[Wolfi 17:41] I can get people on a bicycle.
[Dhiren 17:44] I think it is right? Because you’re so passionate about what you do. And I think as you said, you save someone’s marriage. And I’m sure there are so many more success stories, and it doesn’t seem like work for you. So I think really, is this, what you enjoy doing from your being. And this is the reason you get up every morning.
[Wolfi 18:01] You know what it is? I think it’s helping people. It’s not only helping the customers, it’s helping my team. I’ve taken a great amount of joy from seeing people growing in my company I have people I’m working within 15 years, they have become from young men to fathers, married, successful business people themselves, and going along with all these people is great. And obviously then helping people getting a bicycle, getting fit, improving their lives, I think giving is something very rewarding. If I could say one thing, just live your life and don’t leave anything behind. I’m really trying to give as much as I can. Because at the same time, once you start giving, you get so much back in return. And if you look after other people and you be grateful for all the opportunities presented, and you’re happy, and you try and really to help as good as you can. I think that’s a good mantra for myself to live my life.
[Dhiren 18:56] Yeah, I think it’s a mantra for everybody. It’s the energy that you put out in the world is what you get back. No. So yes, I really liked what you said. And I think I’m so honoured to meet someone who’s found their life passion and their purpose. And I think we should all be looking for that. So well done.
[Wolfi 19:12] So I’m incredibly happy that I found my passion and wish for all of my team really, that they find their own passion. And I said hopefully it’s within cycling, and I can keep them but if they say Listen if you find something in your life, where you’re truly passionate about and you can bring this to people go for that challenge. And I’m happy that it’s cycling in my respect because I didn’t want to sell anything like I wouldn’t sell the software or other things where no if I’m giving this to people, it’s not improving the health not improving the life. But with cycling. We have seen so many fantastic stories of people really changing their life and becoming fit. It’s just so nice to be part of the cycling community in the Middle East.
[Dhiren 19:51] I want to ask you another question on the same topic. Is there something that you can tell people who are looking to start their businesses or who are not sure about what their purpose is? How do they go about finding The purpose?
[Wolfi 20:02] I think most people would know it. I think most people are afraid to take that leap. I think you would know. And obviously, you need to search and you sometimes need to see. To be honest, I think cycling was not my most obvious choice. I learned hospitality, then I saw the bicycles. And I saw that works. And it kind of came to me. But then it came that moment where so do you know what? This is really good. I really like this. You have this experience. And you think, oh, that is fun. Now you sell another bike, and you feel like, Oh, that’s the same again, yeah, I’m helping that person to come back after a few weeks ago at audit. So good. I was here with my bike again. Yep. And then you do it again, and again and again. And you become better than it was one day in my life. And I can’t really remember when it was, when I thought, Okay, you know what, I want to be good in this, I want to become one of the best. And for me, the motivation is that I want people to speak my name with respect. I want them to see if I go to Wolfi’s, somebody will look after me. And it was always very important to me. There’s my name on the business. And that means a lot to me, I think for everyone, maybe for men, especially if I give somebody my word. And I say, Listen, this is from us. That means a credible lot for me, and I always tell my team, Listen, I’ve worked with 34 years of my reputation, I will not be able to refresh this. If I let’s say I mess up my reputation now. Because I’m doing something which is not good. I will never get the chance again. So I need to live up to that reputation. And I want to continue that stream of good work. And I’m incredibly happy that we’ve gone so far. And it’s good to be helpful. And it’s successful with this.
[Dhiren 21:38] Yes. And I think what you just touched upon is also legacy. What do we leave behind as what do people remember us for? As we all grow older? I think these are the questions that we start asking ourselves, What am I going to leave behind in the world when someone talks about me? And I think you said it, right. It’s about respecting the person and giving them credit for all the good things that they did.
[Wolfi 21:57] Yes. And I’m very happy with them. And I think the 18 years I’ve been out here in the Middle East, I think we built quite a good name for building the cycling community in Dubai. In the UAE. We’re known. And it’s so nice. And I strive from this, if I go to psyche shows, and we go with our team, we meet people in the industry or other people, and they say, Hey, don’t want to say this. But they say, Are you the famous Wolfi? And it’s very funny that people say that. And I’m always like a bit taken aback that No, no, I’m not famous, really, I’m happy to say so. But it’s funny enough that this is something a lot of people have said. And I take this always obviously as a compliment. But at the same time, I feel responsible to live up to that. People come here because they’re trusting our expertise in trusting our work, we need to do good work here. We’re known as a good shop. But that’s nice. And it’s a nice compliment. If you could say we’re one of the best in the world. But we have to relearn the trust every day, over and over again. It’s only rented trust, you’re not owning this for the rest of your life. You need to refresh this every time you’re dealing with every customer. That’s important.
[Dhiren 22:59] Absolutely. 100% I want to take you back to Germany because you said you were running a great business in Germany up till 2002. And then you decide to move to Dubai. Why did you decide to do that?
[Wolfi 23:09] Yes, my brother. altogether. We were six children, one of my brothers at that time next in Dubai. And normally in January, me and my family, we came to Dubai to visit him because the weather was nice. And we could stay with him. It was very convenient with him and his wife. And so we saw Dubai and he said Listen, you know what, first of all, it would be nice to have a product round in Dubai. Dubai is a growing city and you will see to have a lot of plans Sonny chef Mohammed, he’s a visionary. He has amazing ideas and he will push it through and Tobias is striving Metropole of the world. And you will see this is an important place and give it a try. And I was 30 I was just around my 30th birthday. And I said, Okay, so either I do that step. And I’m adventurous and I take it. And that’s not listen, no, but I have another 30 years to work anyway. So if I invest now, two or three years, and I give it a try, I would do it. If it God forbid it doesn’t work, then I can go back. And we started planning and it was August 2002. I think the 16th or 17th. I arrived in Dubai A few days later at 40 in the same location. It’s just one of the center showroom will come to office today to center showroom. And we parked the 40 foot container in front of the shop. That time I was alone because my wife still stayed for another month in German. And then I had a 40 foot container driver dropped it off. And then I had to unload a 40 foot container more or less by myself. Yes, or their bikes. It was bikes and furniture and stuff because obviously then rented a house. But that was very challenging. You know, when you do some moments you don’t forget you walk into a showroom, it’s completely empty, and you don’t really know what’s gonna happen. And I remember when I got a phone line, I was very happy at the phone line and then the phone rings I pick up the phone and I didn’t understand the word because my English was much, much worse. I just had a bit of a School English, but I couldn’t understand the word and then I say, Excuse me, and they said it again. And I didn’t know what you’re gonna do here if you don’t even understand what people say on the phone. How does this gonna work? JOHN, this is how it started. There’s a lot of moments in it when you doubt yourself, but then Okay, you just have to get on and, and honestly never really tried in my head to give me the option to go back because I invested everything ahead. And obviously, everyone who starts a business here, especially these days, I wasn’t aware that you had to pay the rent one year in advance, I didn’t know for the house for the Shoreham, I didn’t know that you have to pay school fees. And I didn’t expect them to be so high and
[Dhiren 25:39] almost like a mortgage.
[Wolfi 25:41] It’s amazing. And then I had a bit of a financial planning, but obviously, it was quickly burned in pieces, and I had nothing left and then you start and then you need to make sure you start selling and you need to be aware every customer. Honestly, you’re so thankful for every customer that comes in that store. Some people just open the door, look inside, okay, bicycles, okay, close to the window and out again and think Oh my God, please come in, buy at least a tube or buy something or let me talk to when there was some desperate days out again, I learned a lot I learned a lot about selling about saving costs being economical, or good?
[Dhiren 26:18] And was your wife aware of this plan? When you decided to plan this with your brother? Did you have her agreement or this is completely unknown belongs to her?
[Wolfi 26:27] Yes, I have to say obviously, without my wife, that’s impossible. You know, me, you need somebody to help you in to support you in this. And I told her that we’re going to have some nice evenings on the beach, and sun sunsets and so on. Didn’t happen as much as I promised. So obviously, we’re working a lot, you know, many working from morning times, like some eight o’clock earlier until seven, eight o’clock in the evening. Evening, okay, so you would see her. She’s helping and running the Department for the clothing. And she’s looking at, you know, man, as the owner, herself, you look for everything. There’s so many jobs. And I think we see so many things more than somebody else would see in our business that we look for the dusty look for this, we look for every customer. I think the female side is something different. women think different than men. Yeah, we may be more outgoing and a bit more aggressive to certain things. And she was always the side, I could ask for advice. And they could see what’s her opinion on these things. And we were kind of balancing. And I’m very lucky that we working since I don’t know, over 20 years, we’ve working together we obviously living together. And that’s a very unique situation. But I think we managed very well.
[Dhiren 27:34] That’s amazing. I tried that once. And my wife and I, we said we’ll never work together again. But hats off to people that can figure this out. I want to ask you a question. So you’ve decided to come to Dubai, you’ve met your brother, you say Listen, you know what, this is great. This is growing. I want to set up shop here. Did you at that point decide to close the shop in Germany. And I know it did not. But what made you keep that open?
[Wolfi 27:55] It was obviously our plan B. And what we needed at the beginning was as well, we needed the supply chain, we see what we saw and what we identified, there was a problem of the shops locally to supply a little spare parts. It was shifting cable, a tube and all this this was very difficult, because obviously, everyone who wants to sell you something once you sell your whole container of certain things. And that is obviously very, very difficult in finding a supplier who can consolidate shipments very tricky. So what we did at the beginning was we consolidated all the shipments in our shop in Germany. And we could do that. And we did this for quite a number of years. And that was the key for success. Because a lot of times the shops were here, but it couldn’t help customers because they couldn’t get a shifting cable, they couldn’t get this but in Germany, obviously you have access to everything, which we needed. And in quantities, which were absorbable for us, and we could use and that was the key that we had this and obviously we had very good suppliers who believed into us. And we went from strength to strength. It was obviously the beginning financing the business was very challenging because banks were not interested in our business because we were too small. And we were not to consider from from their side to give us a loan because the amount we needed was not big enough to even open things. And I remember that they send us away and you know, and looking back, it was good because we needed to work a little bit smarter, we need to buy smaller quantities. And that the first couple of years the business did grow very slowly. It was growing. But in hindsight it could have grown a little bit faster but then we would have taken a bigger risk and we weren’t able to take a bigger risk because we didn’t have the funds to do so. But at the same time we have never heard anybody invest in this unit by the bank in most of the only for the daily banking but we’ll never known and so it was good to always growing up and
[Dhiren 29:42] This episode of the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast is brought to you by Cloudscape and Cloudscape’s many different products designed specifically for retail and restaurant business owners. If you’re considering opening a retail or restaurant business, or maybe have one already and are looking to solve a technology problem Then let’s speak, because we can give you a helping hand, and make sure that you’re set up for success. For more information, check out cloudscape.ae, or get in touch by emailing us at Hello@cloudscape.ae.
[Dhiren 30:15] That’s amazing. And when you started the store in Dubai, what was the vision? Was it just to be a provider of good stuff? Or was it a niche in your mind? Did you know exactly what you were going to provide them?
[Wolfi 30:26] Yeah, nobody could anticipate that Dubai would go to such a bicycle, fun city, what we have today, we were just opening a bike shop. And we said, okay, we just help people get on their bikes. And that was just as pure as it sounds. We just wanted to help people fixing bikes, getting a few bikes sold, and it started over and over again. And the city was growing, and we were part of it. But the vision wasn’t there. Somebody would have said it would have envisioned that was to be a cycle track with 250 kilometer and two pro tour teams, the UTM Emirates, Bahrain, Merida team and the UAE tour. Some things I have to pinch myself in your case is really true. Is this really what has been developed in these years? It’s crazy.
[Dhiren 31:09] Yeah. And I know you have a beautiful UAE team jersey hanging right behind you. I’m gonna ask you more about Yes, in a few minutes. But so you started the business is 2002. Everything is running? Well, obviously, you’ve had some challenges in there. And like you’ve already addressed, which is one of my questions. The cycling scene back then is obviously very different from what it was now. But was the store the same way as it is now with the database store that back then? No, no,
[Wolfi 31:34] I think we’re now I would say maybe six times bigger than we were at the beginning. Yeah. So we had one small showroom. And maybe if people remember, a couple of years back, we had a counter in the center of the shop, I got a newspaper. And I kind of put the newspaper on the floor to see how big the counter would need to be in the competition. So I had a bit of a visual, how would the counter look like and we had it kind of in a square. And that’s how we started. And then we did hang a few bikes on the wall. And over the years, we broke down some walls. Yeah, the Germans are good and breaking down walls.
[Dhiren 32:08] Yes, absolutely.
[Wolfi 32:10] So this is history for us. So we went to the lecture room, we went to the right showroom, we went back in the back. We just expanded everything year by year, but just grew organically.
[Dhiren 32:21] Wow. Yeah. And you see this amazing, beautiful story long shag zadro that is so so massive, and well done for staying longer, will you the only bike shop back in 2002. Starting on Sheikh Zayed Road,
[Wolfi 32:34] we were the only one on check side road. And now there’s a few more down the road and just other shops. But when we came there was already one shop, there was selling Skechers sports shoes, and there was one company from Saudi Arabia selling some more basic bikes. And obviously, then the kurama places where you could buy some bikes. But I think we were the first had a technician, I think the German mindset as well as some things which helped people really enjoyed when they came to us. And they could feel that somebody understands the business and understands the bicycle. And obviously Germany has a big history in cycling. And the technical side was very strong. And so people enjoyed having somebody to look after them.
[Dhiren 33:12] Yeah, absolutely. And so 2002, you’ve opened, you’ve obviously grown quite a bit. What do you think today is Wolfi’s niche? I know you guys do amazing bikes, all high end and low end. But is there a niche you guys think you do well at we call it
[Wolfi 33:29] The overseas experience, I love it. And again, I’m going back to the beginning of the hospitality. I think for me, it’s really important. For example, one thing that none of our sales people get paid a commission. We don’t like that idea that people are just here to sell something and sell a little bit more expensive bike or not. We want to see we want to really analyze what the customer needs. And it might be a bike for 2000 terms, we think that’s the right bike for him. And that is part of life and for the area wants to ride and then he gets that 2011 bike and if somebody wants to spend more money, and he wants to get a racing bike, so analyzing what the customer really needs, and what would benefit the most. This is really what we’re trying to set out, then obviously, we have learned a lot about the tools we’re using that for example, every time you come here, we’re working with a sports University in Germany, they have a tool, a laser measuring tool, and we are taking the body measurements of a person, we take overall height, width, thickness, his torso, his arm length, his leg length, his knee position, and so on. And so we understand perfectly, how is your body built and then we look in our database where we have added all our bikes we look what’s the best match for you. So it’s almost like a custom suit. Every bike you get is customized to you. And that was something which was very, very helpful to find the perfect match for that person. Instead of just selling a bike and we see unfortunately many times it’s just a bike is taken the person that’s the color the life the price and then Okay, it’s solid, but there’s never really imagined and you see people were never really comfortable and they never really enjoy a bicycle as they do when they get a bike for Murphy’s. And obviously all our team is trained to look after the customer to identify, really, you need the clothing, the helmet, the shoes, and you get the complete package, which makes a lot of sense. And this will really be the point where you really get to enjoy cycling as it should be.
[Dhiren 35:14] And you mentioned something about having multiple other stores now on that road that also do the same thing. Apart from the Wolfi’s experience, what causes people to come back to Wolfi’s, more than any other bike store?
[Wolfi 35:26] I think we have a selection, which is really good. First of all, I think it’s always we have to convince ourselves and we have to convince our team that what we offering is really the best. And we are looking really carefully about all the products that we sell is when a product is allowed to be represented in Wolfi’s, then it has an approval step. Yesterday, I was speaking to a friend, and he’s working for a company, a bicycle supplier called factor. And we had our podcast, and he said, isn’t a dream for years now to be in office. And I said, Oh, it’s so nice of him to say, if we can make it into Wilson’s that means we have done something, right. Because it’s very challenging to get into your shop. And I have people they’ve worked over many years and always came up with new products and better products and said, We want to be represented in your store. And I said no, really making a good pre selection of everything which is available on the market. And there’s obviously many facets of our thinking is the customer service provided from the companies of different sizes, different business, and really, it has to fit in our portfolio. And then we say, okay, we’re ready to go. And then we take these companies and products on board. And then the customer can come here and get this selection. I think that’s as well something when you go to some other stores. Even in the electronics business, I think getting good advice is sometimes very challenging. It could be technicians, or maybe not as well trained. And the other day I was looking with my colleague in Germany, we have the system with apprenticeships, that before you become a bicycle mechanic, before you become a chef before you become somebody who was trained in hotels, I had maybe six years of training, meaning and going to school and working in businesses at the beginning of my career. That’s kind of a really substantial time. I was trained in Germany, I think this is sometimes missing from other countries. And that’s why I think the German workforce is so strong. That’s why the German economy is strong. That’s why we’re able to have that force of labor and knowledge to build the cause. And whenever we do, but that’s part of the system. And I think that was very strong. And that’s what we’re trying to imply as well here that we do training for our staff, six days a week. So we have six days a week, we’re open and six days a week, we train and inform our staff at least 30 minutes to an hour every day. In different groups, we have so many products that we need to do that.
[Dhiren 37:39] Wow. And this is an organization where everybody in the company learns for 30 to 40 minutes a day about everything that’s coming in. Yes. Wow. It’s amazing. That’s an amazing culture to have within our organization.
[Wolfi 37:51] Yes, we have quizzes, we have certain themes for the days of the week. For example, on Monday, we call it why Monday. So encourage your team to ask me any question that was new. Why Monday? Because only when you’re working a European workweek in America, why Monday? And it’s hard. But I said no, we make it why Monday. So we say everything you want to know, no matter what asked me anything you want to know about the business, anything we discussed. So this is something we do they send a question to me in a little enclosed Facebook group, then we do Tuesdays we do a quiz of all the topics we have discussed during the week. So every department has a quiz to answer and we look at that question. We have questions. Wednesday, we have speak to your colleague Wednesday. So meaning I asked people to leave their phone, in their locker when they have their lunch break. I encouraged them to speak to the team colleagues and exchange, just learn a bit more about your colleagues and just practice the skill of having a conversation with someone instead of being on your phone and an Instagram. So that’s on Wednesday. And Thursday, we have a gratitude Thursday. So we say get on Thursday, I want to show gratitude to your fellow members of the team, say something nice, we have a smaller group where they can post things and say, Hey, thank you very much for this colleague and this colleague, and obviously, to show gratitude, consent and do something during the week, that you might be the person who gets praise by the end of the week.
[Dhiren 39:09] I love it. I think that’s just so much that for any entrepreneur to pick and bring that instill that culture into their team, because it’s things like these that make that culture, it makes the bond stronger. Otherwise, you know, a lot of businesses don’t work this way.
[Wolfi 39:25] Yes. And you know what, I took a lot of ideas from podcasts. Hence, I’m so happy to be on the podcast and give some ideas again back and obviously I think you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It was already invented. You just take it and you make this podcast. In the morning it I go cycling, or go to the gym and normally I listened for about an hour while I’m training. I’m listening to some inspiration and some podcasts and then I’m trying to listen to the podcasts the way that I will refer to them in my morning meeting and it takes something to listen to a podcast. There’s something you take away. This was really good information and then so I’m writing myself notes If I can, or I try to remember the things and then I’m coming in the morning, then kind of sharing what I have seen. I think once you speak about something, and you try to explain it to someone, you need to understand that a bit deeper. And I think while you explaining it, I think it drains a bit more in your brain, which I really enjoy, and so many unbelievable people out there. And I really enjoy podcasts so much, because I think when I grew up, I didn’t have the opportunity. Obviously, you could buy a book from someone, but I think it’s almost at you have such an unbelievable amount of knowledge, which is out there. It’s Google or YouTube, that you can get so much information, so much so valuable information. I think if you really want to know something today, you can find it out.
[Dhiren 40:42] It’s really easy. And I think what you said that is so important, right? As an entrepreneur, I recently launched a newsletter, and I was launching that newsletter was asking why I’m doing this. And the reason is because you learn so much, and you want to share that. And only with sharing that are you going to grow so much more like you said, right? When you listen to it, you talk about it, then you come to your team and you share with your team. And then everybody grows in that manner. That’s amazing.
[Wolfi 41:06] Just I think as well, a lot of people are afraid. And maybe it’s easy for me to say this, because obviously I’m the owner of the business. So I think hopefully nobody will try to challenge that position. So I can really open up on this open that I give every information, everything I know, I will give to my team. And I’m not holding back with anything, I will give them all the ideas of how we do the financing our business, how we do the purchasing how we do the selling, I want to make them as good as I can. I’m not holding back with any information. I heard the other day I heard somebody says die empty. One day you go, you don’t have the feeling you left anything in you and any information you would have liked to share with someone. If one day I have to go, I want to kind of have the feeling I’ve given everything could and I’ve given everything to all my team. I’m just there for them. And obviously in reverse. They’re there for me every day. But this giving us an important part for me.
[Dhiren 41:59] Indeed, and I like what you said die empty. I have never heard that one. And that’s something that I’m going to make a note for myself. It’s so true, right? Yes. You don’t want to be holding anything inside of you. And I think what I’m hearing from you is the reason your team is so welcoming, and so open and so honest, because I think they get it from you.
[Wolfi 42:16] Yes, absolutely. I can feel it. And you know what, it’s so amazing. I have some really incredible people I’m working with. And I can see sometimes how we work a few years together. And sometimes I have that feeling that there’s still something in them and they haven’t really found it, then sometimes it’s a few weeks later, they’re completely different. You really feel they have arrived in Dubai, they have found the passion, they have found a way and it comes sometimes a bit with age. And I think sometimes we forget how it was when we were like 20 I’m now 50 I’m in a different stage of my life. And I know I have changed over the last years. And again, I’m not just waiting for it. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to be better every day. I’m not succeeding every day, but at least I’m taking a learning from it. And it’s so nice to see how people have grown for themselves next to me with me. It’s fantastic.
[Dhiren 43:08] Yeah, and you know, I read somewhere that success is not doing one thing. Well, it’s doing the same thing again and again consistently. And I think you’ve just talked about that. And that’s what really makes everybody great. And that’s how they find themselves. Because they do the same thing. And they do it again and again. And again. You need to practice, it’s a muscle that you build. I want to ask you about this piece specifically. So as a business owner, we all say that, look, it’s very hard to find good people, it’s very hard to find people that will grow with me, that will help me grow with my business or grow my business. Let me ask you, how did you find your good people?
[Wolfi 43:39] It’s difficult. Obviously, we’re working on this. And we’re defining the process of who we recruit and how we recruit them. It’s always facets that Cycling is first, we need to have people who understand cycling, the passion about cycling. That’s always something quite important. Even so we had people in other areas and counting and sundry we’re not associated with bikes. But I think the passion for cycling. And sports is is an important factor for us. Because that obviously helps when people have that mindset for sports and cycling. You know, a sports person is always a little bit different. So that’s one of the key things we’ve tried to focus on. And then the passion to help people and the passion to learn. That’s why it’s something quite important. But unfortunately, sometimes that changes and we’re trying to monitor this more and then try to be there for the people help them develop them and sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t sometimes where you have to cut ties tennis, why would someone because I always say a football field or even a cycling team is only a certain amount of players we can accommodate we cannot just add players to the team. I listened the other day to a podcast and they were speaking about a DNC players in a team and the players are the ones which are really performing well and they almost need no guidance. They do their job in any fee, which you think they’re good potential, but still need a lot of guidance and UFC players we know they’re actually not really performing and you should get more or less either get some more training to get Get them a B or decide isn’t, it’s not the right fit. And sometimes I catch myself working a lot with C, and I’m trying to develop them. And I should look rather after my B and A players more and make an hour more of a conscious effort to really look after the game and never have the feeling it’s not working then. And then when it’s maybe better for the person, sometimes we think, okay, we tried to drag this along, because he needs the job. And at the same time, the whole thing is about passion. If you if you really think you haven’t really found what you were looking for, and you’re not there yet, then maybe it’s better. Like I lost my job, I wasn’t happy. Today, I lost my job in the hospital. That was not a good day for me, because I lost my Social Security. As human beings, I think we’re looking forward to be in a comfortable situation. But when I lost that, that was difficult. And it was a big challenge, because we’ve just kind of wanted to have a family and it’s okay to do this. But looking back, there was a big one of the best and most important moments of my life when I lost my job. And I was forced into that next step. And I think sometimes we cut ties with someone, and then they’re working maybe in another field, and there’s so much happier. So I think we shouldn’t be afraid of having sometimes these uncomfortable conversations. And again, I try as well over the last years have encouraged my teams, it doesn’t matter if sometimes we have a bit of friction, because this is where things are really happening. If we only do the things the way I want them to happen, then we’re only going in one direction, we’re never gonna grow as fast and as efficient as if you challenge the status quo and the ideas and we can work this out and give me your feedback. I want to learn, I want to see you have had better bosses than me. But tell me the truth. And we always say it’s about coaching. It’s not about criticism, it’s coaching. And I take good cyclist or tennis players, the number one in the world and the best player in the world is the left three or four coaches who train with him every day. And if they are smart, then they will take the advice and they will try to improve ever so slightly the game. And that’s the mindset is what I’m trying to ingrain into teams, and it’s all about getting better, and getting coached. And we can coach each other every day.
[Dhiren 47:00] Indeed, like you said, in a business or any organization, it’s the team that moves forward as a unit. It’s not one person leading the charge or one person pushing the back, it’s everybody moving together as a very well oiled machine. And you can feel the gap because the team is so tight. And I think that only comes from conversation like the ones that you are having, like you said, coaching both ways, not just from manager to employee, but employee also to manager, because it’s about respect. And it’s about giving each other the space to say, I trust your opinion. I think that’s very important.
[Wolfi 47:31] And I’m trying hard to get better and cinnamon. It’s not a process where I said, Oh, I’m born and I when I was 20 I knew exactly what to do. No, you have to be open to learn. And you have to take advice from our side. And I’m spending a lot of time myself to personally develop myself every day. And I’m trying to take something away. And it’s so much fun. I mean, it’s so much fun as well, for me to see the business growing, see myself growing. I’m not saying I’m running out of time, but I’m 50. Now, I hope it’s God Wish I have a few more years to be here. But I feel like I have so many more things to learn.
[Dhiren 48:05] You’re right, I think the same way. We all want to learn more. And the sooner we realize that we want to learn, we want to make the most of every day, right. And whether that’s reading books, or listening to podcast, I think, really the reason why most people who become entrepreneurs didn’t become entrepreneurs, because money is one thing, but I think deep down somewhere. It’s about this insatiable desire to learn. I just want to learn everything. I want to learn about marketing and accounting and being a better leader. I think that’s one of the reasons why us entrepreneurs have this tickle in our bones to do something of our own. And that’s the reason I think you may even have moved from German to Dubai, because you want to do a new challenge, I think and learn and grow. Yes, Wolfi, I want to ask you. I know as a client of cloudscape, all of your team takes technology very seriously. And I’m talking about technology that runs your business. How important do you think our role technology plays in any business today? And how has it changed your business?
[Wolfi 48:59] Very, very big. You know, I mean, the whole thing, obviously, the social media is an important point. But I think customers actually when you look at this today, how long are people happy to wait for a response Hello, are they happy to wait on a cash counter, how long the technology of measuring the bikes are not very techie as well I like this and I’d like to see the improvement if I can see a software or a program can make the customer experience better. And obviously we’ve seen this in the last years how quickly everything has evolved how quickly computers and phones and everything got better and we have to be aware about this and we’re constantly improving our system obviously again, it’s that being comfortable with what you have is one thing but then seeing it as an opportunity to improve everything else and hence we are looking into and and other systems to improve our software with our customers to customer interaction. We invested in social media people we invested in graphic designer, we have it people so it’s quite a challenge to keep up at the same time. Once you have implemented the system and you have taught the system what you need. I think then it makes everything so much faster and more efficient.
[Dhiren 50:00]You mentioned something about social media and online. I know also Wolfi’s is a very big e commerce player, how are you finding that balance between e commerce and offline commerce?
[Wolfi 50:09] I feel it’s challenging for us. Obviously, we’re trying to get this worldly experience to an online platform as well. But that presents itself difficult because obviously, coming to a store like ours, it’s like when you go to a restaurant, and I think having the same food served at home, is one experience. And even so it’s the same kind of quality. But if you go to the restaurant and you experience the whole restaurant, maybe my hospitality mindset kicks in again. But I feel this this human connection we have when we have somebody in the store, it’s something I’m quite fond of, I think this is a very basic human need to interact with people. And obviously COVID was putting something and I think we all felt it when we were looking at our houses. And we couldn’t see people I think we were just more aware of Okay, this is really what what’s missing. And zoom calls are nice. And we have a zoom call now. And I think that’s technology, which is really helpful. But I think seeing the person and seeing his body language, and all these things are quite important for me. And that’s what we’re trying to get into the experience in the store. And we’re trying to get something similar for smaller bits and pieces when people need help quickly. That that is the idea of what we went into the online world.
[Dhiren 51:15] And do you think that online is going to be a big part of Wolfi’s experience? Or is it still going to be very much retail business?
[Wolfi 51:22] I think we’re trying to stay a retail player. But I think we see the need, especially with tons like COVID. And we see obviously, the whole region is fairly big. And we’re looking at expansion into other regions with this online platform. And we know that obviously, sometimes somebody needs a spare tube, and he needs a company needs a computer and you need some clothing again, and this is all things which we feel comfortable, we can supply. We have an online support, where you can ask questions, and you can approach us and we will try our very best. And I think with technology like so we can have conversations with customers to identify their needs. Because it’s not always what we feel it’s not always what the customer is looking for is really the product needs. Because there’s other solutions on the market. And our team is highly trained so they can identify what the customer really maybe needs for his road surface ways writing, maybe there’s a different tire, which is much, much better, or there’s new technology, which is now available in the market, and we have better products. And I think this is something quite important for us to share this information with our customers.
[Dhiren 52:20] And the reason why I ask you this question, you know, you hear these stories about retail is dead, it’s all going to be online, retail Apocalypse, there is no more retail, I think that’s maybe a bit hyper bowl, it’s not true, I feel and like you said, there is a lot of room for both of these channels to exist. happily.
[Wolfi 52:37] I’m a bit afraid of players like Amazon and other bigger players in the market. I tell the story sometimes in the village I grew up when I was a little boy, we had two bakers, we had two butchers, we have a little supermarket and it was kind of a community within Germany. But people did meet. Some others work for a couple of hours in that store. So they had kind of a bit of an income, it was helping the families. And you could go there, buy your bread in the morning, you meet your neighbor, you have that interaction. So all of the shops are gone. I think all of them moved close, and they move to one central location. But for a lot of people, it’s difficult now, to go shopping for elderly couples, and maybe they don’t have a car, they just want to walk and move a little bit around, they could go to the store in the morning, get their bread, and then maybe in the afternoon, they go and buy to me to buy some other groceries and they are interacting with others. I think the social side of it is missing. We see some villages or some bigger cities all over Europe where the return goes down. And I think retail is taken over by bigger players. You know, wherever you go in Europe, you always find the same shops, it’s the big place. And I think they’re doing a good job. But you go everywhere uses arrows, and you wouldn’t even know are in London or in Paris or in Amsterdam. And I think that individual little shop, run by a family or run by a small team like ours is different. I think that’s a different experience. And if people go a lot to online, it might create an issue that obviously once somebody has the monopole selling all the product and nobody else is challenging them, then maybe they can do with the prices what they want. And again, I think a lot of social interaction is gone missing. And I think we as a consumer, we have to be careful that we’re not giving too much away from our freedom. buying everything online, sometimes it’s difficult, you can’t avoid it. Because it’s so easy. You just go and hold online. And in a couple of hours later, a couple of days later, you get exactly the product you wanted and here with retailers, and retailers have to make sure they fight this and they offer something special. We were lucky with bikes, this may be something where we have we need this person into action. We need to fit the bike to you and we offer that special experience. Like I’ll tell you we never got online in a hotel. That’s maybe something’s well fairly safe. But other things. I think we have to be careful not to lose these little shops because they are quite important for a community. Absolutely.
[Dhiren 54:49] And I think what you said there was so right, it’s about that experience. So there’s so many things that you can buy online, but what you’re going to lack is that experience of going to someone asking them for help. Like is it fit the bike Try something on. So I don’t think retail is dying. In fact, I think retail is going to grow. And I know a lot of people come and say to me, Listen, are you sure you want retail as the industry that is going to stay alive? Absolutely. I think retail and e commerce, both online are going to coexist, like you said, as long as retailers find that experience that they can deliver, like the Wolfi’s experience, and that will keep people coming back for more. I think that’s very, very true.
[Wolfi 55:23] Yes, we hope so.
[Dhiren 55:24] I hope so, too. And I want to ask you, before we move on to the next question, I know you’re a very, very big celebrity in the cycling world. Like you said, You’re the famous Wolfi and you’ve written with Sheikh Mohammed, tell me about that experience. Tell me about team UAE and the jersey that you have behind you.
[Wolfi 55:40] Very good. Yeah, I just got it signed. Obviously a fantastic experience this year that the UAE team Emirates won the yellow jersey, and with the yellow jersey that the biggest title in soccer and winning the Tour de France. This is a dream coming true. And especially because we are supplied to the company colnago, which is now owned by UAE, in Abu Dhabi. Mr. Kanako is a personal friend of mine, couple of days on Sunday was in Abu Dhabi. And he and his company which are now over 60 years in business. They want every raise you can win in the world, besides the Tour de France, and this year, he wanted to release now 85 years of age at 60 years of age now. And I was extremely happy to see him winning because I think that’s a legacy completed, winning everything you can imagine. He’s such an icon in the sport, you had a tour team and the tour win and everything with the team and meeting His Highness Sheikh Mohammed shamov, inside Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, we were lucky to meet and it’s very interesting, when you come close to our leaders, the aura, you can feel it, you can feel the wisdom you can feel the power. And the same time you feel the humbleness, very, very nice people. Very good listening, we talked to them a few minutes very well informed, they knew a little bit about the shop about the business we’re doing. And knowing it makes me very proud to me now we spent 18 years in the year and almost 20 with all the holidays and so on, and makes me extremely proud to be part of the country part of the vision. And when we mentioned Sanchez, Mohammed and he said, Listen, we see what you do for the sport cycling. He loves the sport. And it’s nice for the people that you can exercise and we trying to improve the fitness of all the people living here. And he said, you’re doing a good job. And I said this is amazing, which is just an unbelievable experience, obviously as well His Highness Sheikh Hamdan, we met the Crown Prince of Bahrain, and we made a lot of high profile people. And what connects us is his passion for cycling. And we meet on that cycling level, and they enjoy the sport as much as we do. That’s fantastic. You can bring that style, a little bit of that culture into their lives where they have super busy lives and so many decisions. And when they consider a bike, relax, enjoy the country. That’s beautiful.
[Dhiren 57:52] And like you said, at the beginning of this conversation, when you get on a bike, you find that moment where you turn off, yes, where you are just so with the bike and the bike is you. And I think that’s the passion that everybody has in their own lives. And like you said, when you connect with that passion, it’s a very different experience. It’s a very different feeling. I want to ask you two more questions, and then we’ll move to wrap up the conversation. One thing that you would do if you were given a chance, again, with Wolfi’s, here in Dubai, what would you do differently? If anything?
[Wolfi 58:21] Hmm, that’s a good question. I think we don’t we have been really successful with what we’ve done. I think maybe at the beginning, we could have grown a little bit faster. But again, it’s easy now to see going back. And it’s just well easy to say, okay, we wouldn’t change anything. Sometimes you wish for the times, which are challenging to be in a bit easier. But at the same time, if you go back and look back, and you embrace these days, and this was really where I learned more about myself than the easy days, sometimes you falling back a little bit, when you kind of getting in that comfort zone again, then you relax. And I think sometimes it was the competition added into the market, which made us wake up again, and say we need to get better. We need to improve our game and sometimes uncomfortable moments where you can challenge from a customer and we said we didn’t live up to the expectations. These moments are hard, but at the same time, these are the moments when we improve. And I think we came a long way. Until now we have big plans which will expand in the region in the next couple of years. So we have some more challenges to go in. And we have a strong team now around me. I think we’ve never been as many people and never been as such a good team as we are now and we’re looking forward to bring cycling to more people in the region.
[Dhiren 59:28] And you answered my next question. I was gonna ask you what is the future vision for Wolfi’s? You mentioned something about growing What does that look like in the coming years.
[Wolfi 59:36] We have a partner now in Abu Dhabi. So we’re very fortunate to partner with a joint venture with Abu Dhabi with the royal family and people in Abu Dhabi, where we have a very strong partnership now since the first of January. We’re looking forward to grow with me in Abu Dhabi and expanding our reach people who are behind the brand colnago team UAE Emirates, they’re behind whoosh and now we are in a partnership with them. which is again, a big honor for us to be associated with such an unbelievable partner in such a strong partner division, especially because the people behind it are so passionate about the sport. And yeah, we’re looking forward to grow with their help to grow the business even further in the next years.
[Dhiren 1:00:15] I love it. And I wish you all the very best will fit, I want to ask you, you are on the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast, what according to you makes for an elevated entrepreneur?
[Wolfi 1:00:26] I think going out to learn and finding a passion, if this combines in your nature, and you can work on this and grow. And I think there’s as you said, as well. It’s never the money which should be the motivation should always be something when you try to give something and you feel like what you do is really helping other people. I think the respect given to people is important to me, I want people to look at me and say, Okay, he’s an honorable person. Enjoying that pushing and enjoying embracing the accent. I think a lot of sports people have that nature. Every time I’m going on the bike, I’m trying to push myself, that would be maybe a characteristic, which I have.
[Dhiren 1:01:03] Yes, absolutely. I got learning, looking to do something that is of your passion, looking to leave a legacy behind be respected for something. And I think follow your passion and grow in that passion. I think very well said thank you so much for sharing that. You recommend one podcast for entrepreneurs out a book that you think will change their lives, or they have to read or listen to.
[Wolfi 1:01:24] One thing I like is Andy Stanley leadership podcast is really good at this others like Lewis house is more kind of general. But it’s about leadership. NPR radio, hidden brain is something I like as well as something a bit different. But Andy Stanley is one person was a really good visual, how to run a business. And I learned a lot from him.
[Dhiren 1:01:43] Amazing. I haven’t listened to Andy Stanley podcast, but I will I have listened to hidden brain. And it’s a phenomenal show. Like you said, it’s not about work or entrepreneurship, but it’s about the other things in our life that we may not have paid attention to. It’s a really good one. But thank you for sharing both of these. We’ll make sure we link to them in our show notes. And last question will be where can people find you? I know people can come to the store on that road. We’ll put a Google Maps in our show notes. But if they wanted to find you, where can they find you? Are you on Instagram on Twitter?
[Wolfi 1:02:13] Yes, we are on Instagram, Twitter Nazi I think the President was taken care of. I didn’t want to interfere with him. No, normally I’m an Instagram bit on Facebook. I’m not so much into social media. My team is looking after it. I think the easiest really I like good old fashioned. If you want to meet me come to the store. We have a nice coffee buy in the store with our partners from peddle. Come to the store and let’s talk a bit second or maybe even bestest. Three times a week I’m in a qudra and maidin on the soccer track so you can come and soccer next to us during COVID. We didn’t do our Dubai Roadsters, Friday morning rights, which was institution with 250 pupils unfortunately doing COVID we couldn’t do that. But that for sure. We will do again we have some nice videos I will share with you and people can look at it. It’s really an amazing event. So you can meet me in the shop and you can meet me on a bicycle. I think that’s the best two things and you meet me in person that’s better.
[Dhiren 1:03:05] And when they come looking for you, they ask the famous Wolfi.
[Wolfi 1:03:08] Yes, yes.
[Dhiren 1:03:11] Wolfi, thank you so much for spending time with us on the show. I really appreciate you being here.
[Wolfi 1:03:16] Thanks for inviting me. I think it’s nice to share this with other people. And I’m a big fan of your podcast. So thanks for having me. I’m proud to be one of them to say l isten, I’ve been with Dhiren on his show.
[Dhiren 1:03:29]Thank yo u so much for staying with me till the very end of the episode, you’ve done it. I’ve got three specific tasks for you only if you think that this podcast is worthy of your support. And if you’ve enjoyed the content, my first request is for you to hit the subscribe button. Actually smash that subscribe button so that you can get notified when new episodes come your way. Or if you haven’t already, head on over to elevatedentrepreneur.fm and subscribe to the podcast on the website so that new episodes are emailed to you right away. My second request is for you to help me spread the word with your friends and families and business owners that would enjoy this podcast and help elevate them too. You can do that either by leaving a review on your Apple device or just telling your friends how cool this podcast is. And finally, if there’s a question that you’ve been dying to ask me, or this pieces of feedback that you’d like to give me, head on over to elevatedentrepreneur.fm/speak where you will be able to record a voice message that I can listen to and also maybe feature here on the podcast together with my answer. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you much love and I’ll see you in the next one.