Why Around Portland’s bike evangelism makes for good business
Edwin Skaug, Sarah Gilbert and Madi Carlson have many things in common. They’re all entrepreneurs, Portland dwellers and business owners.
But, what truly unites them is their absolute love for bikes.
No matter the weather or mood, they’ve found themselves coming back to the green machines that bring them, and others, so much joy.
To them, a bike is more than just a mode of transportation to get from point A to point B. Biking connects riders with their city and community in ways that driving a car or taking public transit can’t. It allows for the discovery of a city’s hidden gems and picturesque views not available through a car or bus window.
That’s why they joined forces in the spring of 2019 to start Around Portland, a tour company that focuses on showing both tourists and locals the benefits of exploring Portland on bikes.
On an Around Portland tour, customers can expect to have a gentle ride where they see some of Portland’s best sights and hear a unique story of the iconic city, giving participants not just the context and history of a park or bridge, but where those landmarks fit into the story as well.
Riders can choose from simple intro tours that give a general overview of Portland and its storied past, or they can go for more focused and unique rides like The Simpsons bike tour, which delves deep into the origins of the show’s fictional setting (Springfield), which was based on Portland itself.
The Around Portland Team has a reputation in Portland as a respected tour company, boasting an average five-star rating on TripAdvisor and Airbnb Experiences. This can be attributed to the founders’ genuine passion for biking and Portland’s bike culture.
“It's not really work, it’s a lifestyle,” said Skaug, Around Portland's Operation Manager. “We’re ambassadors for our city.”
While the company’s bread and butter is providing tours, sometimes up to six a day, Around Portland has also started a side hustle that’s become a lucrative part of their business.
To compete with other tour services, the trio decided to add another layer to their offering a few months back. Around Portland’s store now serves as more than just a starting and ending point for tours. It’s also a place for anyone to rent bikes and take them out on their own.
Through a partnership with Omni, those looking to rent a bike can easily browse through the company’s selection of rides, from a Breezer Uptown to the Fuji Absolute. Omni clearly displays prices, pictures and other details about what’s included in the rental. Once a client’s decided what bike is right for them, they can check-out and pay.
Madi, who comes from a background in web development, was happy the team didn’t have to build out their own custom backend system for managing rentals. She’s in this business for the tour guiding and bike riding, she says, and using Omni helps her and her employees focus on just that.
Over the coming months, Around Portland hopes to expand both its rental and tour business. By using Omni, the owners can focus on more exciting things, such as doing field research for new tours they are planning, like the Cannabis Culture Tour and the Urban Winery Tour.