In March of 2016, I put together an article for PrettyDamnedFast on "How to Start a Team From Scratch". Here is a condensed version of that article and brief overview of things to consider when starting a team. Identity
Pick a Discipline (CX, Road, XC MTB)
Pick a Team Name
Decide on a logo
Decide on a mission statement, what is your team about?
Establish an online identity.
Make an Instagram account and Facebook page for your team. Add a few relevant photos even if you don’t have team kit yet. This gives potential sponsors something to look at and reference. It’s more appealing than looking at an account with zero content.
Riders and Expectations
Find teammates. It’s important to find people you like to spend time with on the bike. It’s also important to find people that really want to be a part of a team and are willing to put in the effort to make the team run smoothly.
Establish roles. I used to think I could just do everything myself, but there are not enough hours in the day for me to do everything on my own and race at the same time. It’s ok to divvy up the workload among your team members. For example, Heather on my team, does all of our accounting, payouts, invoicing etc. I do all the sponsorship outreach/correspondence because I prefer to approach things a certain way and want to protect the ‘brand identity’. All team members are required to provide blog posts and materials for social media posts.
Create Rider Guidelines. These are important because it clearly outlines what you expect from your riders and gives them opportunity to ask questions if there is something they don’t understand. I also ask for emergency contact info and medical information should anything happen during a race. I keep all of these on Google Drive so I can quickly reference if needed. 2017 This Team Saves Lives Rider Expectations 2017 This Team Saves Lives Rider Safety Contract
Budgeting and Sponsorships
Create a spreadsheet outlining what your fees will be. Kit, Race license, equipment, etc. Make an estimated cost for each of these on the budget.
Make a sponsorship packet. This is a marketing tool that helps get sponsors. Instead of having a potential sponsor go through your social media pages, you present ALL of your information in one place. This will include your mission statement, who you are, what you want in terms of sponsorship and what you’re willing to give in return. Sponsorship is a two way street. 2017 This Team Saves Lives Sponsorship PDF (Please only use for reference.)
Get together a list of sponsors you want to reach out to. Think about any brands you really like and try to find their ‘contact us’ address on their website. Sponsors also don't have to be bike industry brands, it could be local businesses you frequent, coffee shops, etc. I would HIGHLY recommend always starting off any sort of email with ‘Hello, I hope you’re well’ or ‘Hey, How’s it going’. Pleasantries go a long way with people. You have to realize that at least for anyone you email in the bike industry that they have been receiving emails just like yours for years, and it works best to treat these people ... as people. You’re not always going to get a response, and you will get turned down but don’t worry about it. It happens to everyone.
Have a general idea of what you want. If you aren’t great at Ai (I’m not!) sketch out your ideas. Most kit manufacturers have in house design teams that can usually make most of your kit dreams come true.
Consider which pieces you need, for example in Cyclocross, most racers wear skinsuits whereas road races are often bib shorts and short sleeve jerseys. There are always order minimums across the board, the quantities vary by manufacturer. With that in mind, consider ordering a second kit for yourself in the event of an accident. Also keep in mind that there are always production lead times from at least 3-8 weeks depending on the factory, so plan ahead. During your inquiry, if you find a manufacturer that you want to work with, request a ‘fit kit’. There are few things less disappointing than ill-fitting kit, so try it on first.
Once you have your kit on the way, start planning a fundraiser. This is a great way to introduce your team to the public and generate team funding at the same time. We asked our friends, local businesses, everyone we could think of, for raffle prizes and hosted a raffle at a local bar. Already having that pre-established social media presence I mentioned earlier, really helped create awareness about our new team.
After your fundraiser, go back to that budget spreadsheet you made and divide the funds according to your team needs. You can also look into sites like ‘Booster’ - which is a crowdfunding site. We had some success selling sweatshirts there. It works well for people that don’t have the money to put up front for things like shirts and other cool marketing pieces. After that, you’re all set. Now, get to the races!
Starting a team is a ton of work, you really need to stay on top of your social media, setting aside content for your sponsors to use, and staying organized on the back end. That’s why you have teammates to help you. Sometimes, it does feel like a full time job but at the end of the day, I think it’s worth it. I have zero regrets on starting a team and I hope to encourage more women to start their own teams.