Townsend bike maker receives venture funds
From Staff Reports
NEST-TN, a Tullahoma-based venture capital firm, has completed a $380,000 TNInvestco program investment in Blount County-based Cutting Edge Wheels, a designer and manufacturer of bicycles in the growing alternative cycle market.
Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) is also participating with a $150,000 co-investment from the INCITE Fund. Cutting Edge Wheels is located on Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend.
The company will design and manufacture recumbent and electric bikes at its Townsend location. Manufacturing will focus on the more complex parts like high quality frames.
“East Tennessee has some of the best machinists and welders on the planet. This will enable Cutting Edge Wheels to deliver super high quality frames and performance bikes,” said Bill Gillette, one of the founders of the company.
Cutting Edge Wheels is a new company formed by a trio of Knoxville-area entrepreneurs who see a big future in alternative bicycling. The growth is led by interest among recreation-minded Baby Boomers in search of a more comfortable ride, and growing interest among disabled riders, and additional options for urban commute transportation, said co-founder Joe Fields.
“With all of these factors coming together, we see a big opportunity for growth in alt-biking,” said Fields. “The biking industry has grown 500 percent in the past 10 years. We see an opportunity to continue growth by providing affordable solutions for more riders.”
Cutting Edge Wheels is acquiring HummingBike and Edge Recumbents, and will sell its bikes at U-Man Power Bike Shop, a Townsend retailer of alternative bikes and trikes.
Fields is joined in the venture by Gillette and Randy Sadler. The group possesses a wealth of executive experience in recreation lifestyle business, with Fields having served as president of Speedo International and vice president of Adidas; Gillette is owner of U-Man Power Bike Shop in Townsend and founder of Edge Recumbents; and Sadler is a veteran marketing and sales executive with Procter & Gamble Co.
“We are excited to make this investment and become partners with an outstanding group of entrepreneurs and executive managers,” said Dan Marcum, NEST-TN partner. “This team has a strong business model in a lifestyle segment that has tremendous growth potential. This is another terrific example of the TNInvestco strategy — to bring capital together behind entrepreneurs to build Tennessee companies and generate jobs for our economy. The program has been the catalyst for many new Tennessee companies and employment.”
TNInvestco is a state program that provides tax credits to businesses that invest in certain types of start-up companies. It was created in 2009.