Nine13sports plans to expand bike program into new market

Indianapolis-based Nine13sports is expanding its Kids Riding Bikes program into another market.

The not-for-profit announced plans Wednesday to launch the program in Minneapolis next year. It’s the second market expansion in two years for the organization, which introduced the program to Portland, Oregon, in May 2015.

Charlie Warner, who oversees the Nine13sports Northwest affiliate in Portland, will move to Minneapolis to become executive director of that location. A new executive director will be hired for the Portland office.

“I know that we will thrive in Minneapolis and that this market will continue to push Nine13sports towards recognition across the country as a premier resource for schools, foundations, and corporate partners,” Warner said in a written statement. “I’ve learned a lot from our experiences in Portland and look forward to putting those skills into practice once again.”

Kids Riding Bikes is a four-week program in which students ages 5-18 learn about bicycling by completing courses on bikes that are hooked up to computer simulators and electronic stands that track progress by distance, time and watts of energy.

Nine13sports CEO Tom Hanley said several additional staff members will be hired in Minneapolis as they prepare to launch the program in September 2017.

Hanley said Minneapolis had “been on our radar for a long time.”

“Expansion into new and engaging markets has always been a part of our long-term business model,” Hanley said in a statement. “Minneapolis is an exhilarating city and a peer to Indianapolis in just about every data point, in addition to being a place with a culture of health and fitness and a genuine love of bicycling.”

Hanley told IBJ they are working to secure funding for the Minneapolis program through foundations, grants and corporate partnerships. He expects to announce funding partners early next year.

The Kids Riding Bikes program is offered at 40 schools and youth sites per year throughout central Indiana with one full-time and one part-time Nine13sports team. More than 225 schools in the area have expressed an interest in having the program.

The Indianapolis office, which will remain as the headquarters for Nine13sports, has five staff members currently. Five additional employees are expected to be hired by the end of the year.

Hanley said staff has been “working at a feverish pace to spool up expansion” in the Indianapolis area, with the goal of having four teams by early next year that can serve more than 160 schools and 30,000 students. 

Opening the new location is estimated to cost $200,000, while adding teams in existing markets—Indianapolis and Portland—costs about $150,000.

Hanley also said he is working to expand into Seattle; Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville; and Columbus, Ohio. Chicago had previously been a targeted market, but Haney said that location has been put on hold due to the large scope and size of the market.

He said he thinks the program could reach 12 to 15 new markets by 2020.

“I believe we can replicate our model in cities with similar features to Indianapolis more readily than larger scale markets at this time,” Hanley said.

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