The Bicycle Academy
The apprenticeship where you make and donate a bike to someone who really needs it
Founder: Andrew Denham
Launched: November 2011
Not many start-ups earn all their business for the next 12 months within a week of launching, but that's exactly what The Bicycle Academy did.
Launching his business through crowdfunding website Peoplefund.it at the beginning of November (while still working full time), founder Andrew Denham raised £40,000 seed capital in six days – rewarding individuals who invested £500 or more with one of the first places on the Academy's bicycle-building courses, which start in spring 2012.
The Academy captured the imagination of its customers with its unique concept. The four-day courses see customers gain apprentice training in how to build a specially designed bike frame, then their finished bicycle is donated to Africa, where it will be used by a community, for example, to collect water.
Academy graduates can then hire workshop space and use their new skills to make more bicycles, which they can use, sell or give away.