On the up · 26 July 2018

How these cycling entrepreneurs set up 3 businesses under one roof

This pair of fitness fanatics have pedalled into the world of entrepreneurial success by opening a first-of-its-kind biking business in the Isle of Man.

Mark Horsthuis and Sacha Quine are the directors of Cycle 360, a unique and exciting place where cycling, fitness and cafe culture all meet under one roof. Their clients can browse a range of bikes, clothing and cycle equipment in the bike shop, and enjoy a comfortable and friendly meeting place in the café.

As part of our “I fell in love with my co-founder” series, we caught up with this couple to get down the gritty details of living and working with your partner and find out about how one drunken encounter sparked their inseparable whole journey.

Who are you and what is your business?

Mark – I’m Mark, I’m 30 and from the Isle of Man. I’m the managing director and owner of a business and concept called Cycle 360; effectively three businesses under one name: a bike shop, a café and a fitness centre. We’re in a purpose-built building that I have project managed for three years.

I’m a ski instructor, as well as an avid cyclist and bike mechanic by trade. I’ve always played sport growing up; I was a keen rugby player during school and got into cycling in my late twenties following repeated injuries because of rugby.

Sacha – I’m Sacha, I’m 25, and alongside Mark I’m one of the directors of Cycle 360.

Cycle 360 is completely unique to the Isle of Man, but also – in its size – unique in the UK too. Its where cycling, fitness and café culture all meet under one roof. The concept works so well because it’s situated just outside of the town centre, in a business park, where there’s parking and safe access to the countryside for cyclists and alike. People come here after work or during the weekends to go for a ride and enjoy the nature and landscapes of the Island, which really are breath-taking. As you can see, we love sport so the Isle of Man is perfect for us, and allows us to enjoy a great quality of life while running a business.

I was born on the Isle of Man too but moved to the UK when I was a toddler and grew up in York. I returned to the Isle of Man after I went to University in Newcastle, and began my career as Marketing Assistant at a global law firm in 2014.

When was the business founded?

Mark –  Cycle 360 was officially registered in early 2015, just a couple of months’ after Sacha and I first met.  I had the business idea with my Dad in 2014, with the original idea to open my own bike shop in the Isle of Man. After a lot of research and living in London for so long, it was becoming more and more apparent to me that retail (especially in the cycling world!) needed that café element to it, to bring the people through the door. After a culmination of months of research throughout Europe and America, during 2014 and 2015, we [Mark’s family] came up with this ‘holistic’ approach to cycling where we would incorporate a fitness type facility as well as the bike shop and the café too.

After 18 months, we eventually got planning permission for the build – a very happy day for all involved, but for me especially as I had to do a short and well-rehearsed speech to a panel of planners – who we knew were torn on the idea.

It took another year after planning permission was granted, to start construction and now here we are, three years later – open to the public!

What is the company’s turnover?

Mark – we estimate our projected turnover for this year being £2 million.

How did you both meet?

Mark – It was on the Isle of Man, I was living in London at the time but was home for Christmas visiting my family. It was the day after Boxing Day and I’d just done the annual karaoke bus with the boys in fancy dress. We ended up in a nightclub – and an intoxicated Mark, offered to buy a sober Sacha, a drink. I like to think I then wooed her with my dance moves and impressed her by taking her to the casino afterwards where she ended up winning me my taxi home!

Sacha –  I ended up texting him first the next morning, asking him if he got home OK – and I got a reply back asking if I was free for dinner that night. He took me on our first date at a local restaurant on the Quay, in Douglas, where we pitched up both wearing the same outfits! Both mortified, we quickly swigged a few glasses of wine each to hide the nerves and shield the embarrassment!

We’ve not gone another day since without speaking to each other…

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What inspired you to start a business together?

Sacha – I was always very involved with Cycle 360 because it was such a big project that Mark was about to embark on. Living with him and his parents meant I was always part of the discussions around the dinner table!

With my background in marketing, and my family history of love for cycling, together with my passion for health and fitness as a whole, I initially got very involved when we needed to create the physical Cycle 360 brand. I lead the creative brief and liaised with a local graphic designer to create a logo and ‘story’ for the company. When it started to become more consuming and affect my full-time work outside of Cycle 360, I made the big decision to leave full-time work and fully focus on the business, helping Mark take it forward.

It was easier after that to then determine roles and how best we’d complement each other as business partners.

What specific roles do you both have?

Mark – as managing director, I work across the whole business and most recently I’ve project managed the build, working closely with our building contractor Hartford Homes, and our interior designers, Cubbin & Bregazzi. Operationally I work with each of our managers to ensure everything runs smoothly throughout the business.

My experience spans retail, hospitality and fitness – so it’s great I can be pulled in every direction during the day to be leaned upon and rota’d into the bike shop, café or the fitness club when necessary.

Sacha – as director, and head of marketing – oh and HR manager, and fitness club manager – I wear quite a few hats! My day is never the same; I could be doing some graphic design work, social media content or writing a press release one day, to leading a recruitment campaign, and running a class within our wattbike zone, the next! I love that my role is so varied, but it does mean I have to be very good at prioritising and taking my workload into my own hands as I do get pulled in a lot of different directions.

How do you separate work disagreements from your personal life?

Sacha – this can be challenging, but it’s one we’ve definitely learnt to cope with. We’re both extremely passionate about what we do, and care about the business so much that sometimes we can be sensitive to a disagreement over the business. We try our best to treat each other as if we are employees, in a professional way – which sometimes can mean biting your tongue, or better yet – thinking of a diplomatic answer that supports your argument for not agreeing with something in the first place!

Do you have any rules to leave work at work?

Mark – we do try and abide by the rule of not talking about Cycle 360 once it hits dinner time, but it can be quite difficult because a lot of conversations we have do end up revolving around the business. I guess that’s because we love what we do and our business is both of our hobbies!

What are your individual strengths?

Sacha – we complement each other well through our own individual strengths. I’d say Mark’s strengths are in his ability to always smile, chat to anyone and everyone and be able to work seamlessly across all areas of the business (he’s the best barista we’ve got and the best bike salesman by far!) Although Mark is the “big boss” to all our team, he’s so down to earth and relatable that it means he’s trusted and respected by everyone.

Mark – Sacha’s main strengths are that she’s completely unflappable and impeccably organised! She’s known for her contagious smile and is liked by everyone, which is so important as an owner of a business. She’s very driven and proud – she wants to be known as being a business-woman!

What’s been your biggest business achievement to date?

Sacha – opening the doors to the public, having built the business from the ground up – without even a name, logo or physical location to start with!

Mark – getting the business, of such complexity – to where it is now! We’ve not only opened three businesses in one, it’s completely exceeded everyone’s expectations, and the feedback from the public and the press we have received, makes all the hard-work so worthwhile!

What are the perks of running a business together?

Sacha – the best part is that we’ve come together over a shared interest, working under the same mission, striving towards the same goal. It’s not just the time we share as business partners, it’s the passion we share as people too!

Mark – through the passion we have for the business to work, we’ve essentially become even closer, enhancing our commitment to each other by our commitment to our business!

What are the downsides of running a business together?

Mark – A day spent running the business together followed by an evening dissecting the working day can often make our professional and personal lives feel a little intertwined. It’s a challenge we can admit we have a hard time overcoming, that’s why it’s important to follow the ‘no Cycle 360’ rule at dinner time.

Sacha – As Mark says, I think the most difficult part of running a business together is that the stress from a day can often be brought home – so there’s no escape. If one of us has chosen to have a day off in the week, but the other is still working, naturally we’ll both be involved as we live together and want to help each other. But – in order to receive the many perks of running your own business, you’ve got to endure a few downsides – otherwise if it was easy, everyone would do it. At the end of the day, if you have an idea you believe in, a business you want to see succeed, you need to be able to take risks and fight for it every day. For us, it is worth it!

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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