The Innovation Cycles Festival aims to bring 150 leading thinkers to burgeoning cycling hub Bentonville, Arkansas this September to rethink how trips under five miles will be taken in the future. As soon as we heard about it, we reached out to the festival’s Chris Mumford and Nat Ross to learn more about the concept, the setup and how we could be involved. If you don’t know about it yet and want to learn more, here is our conversation.
“We wanted to curate an event that brought together 150 forward thinkers and align with where the ball is going to be – not where it is now…”
PELOTON: In talking with you this week, the ICF sounds a lot like the Do Lectures in Wales and we are inspired by this festival and want to be there and learn more. What compelled you to create this?
ICF: We think the Do Lectures and Innovation Cycles Festival have similar DNA: Learn. Connect. Do.
Nat Ross and I met working at Digizuk, a digital storytelling company. I think that we connected because we both had really different life experiences but still shared the same notion that tomorrow can be better than today if we worked at it.
The idea really came together when Nat and I were eMTBing with the US fashion icon Alexander Julian on some dusty trails in Tahoe. While all of us were at different riding levels, we were able to enjoy the ride and talk about things that mattered.
There is a growing realization that we need to collaborate to grow the pie while understanding that competition will always exist. The focus is on micro-mobility – 0-5 miles travel – as everything is about to change in cycling. We wanted to curate an event that brought together 150 forward thinkers and align with where the ball is going to be – not where it is now – and prepare today. The tent needs to be bigger to include players in cycling, automotive, motorcycles and technology. You can go faster alone, but much farther in a group.
Most of the new eBike riders — who likely do not ride now — will drive huge growth while the enthusiast riders will see remarkable technology improvements during the boom.
PELOTON: How has the initial response been from endemic and non endemic partners and potential attendees?
ICF: We have been surprised. Change is hard. But, the non endemic partners have been unexpectedly open as they see a huge opportunity with fresh eyes. Automotive and motorcycle companies are trying to feel their way as they have rarely crossed over into other spaces. Tech companies are doing their own thing. Our cycling industry partners get that everything is going to change. The rest of the industry is coming around slowly. There is so much happening so fast. We need to collaborate to grow the pie faster in new areas while still compete in the core business.
PELOTON: Walk us through your 3 main objectives for this festival and how do you see it playing out?
ICF: We have three ambitious goals:
1) Change mindsets. We wanted to create a joyful conference of 150 thought leaders who learn about the things that will change everything in e-bikes and micro-mobility during the next 3 years. We will hear 12 Talks from difference makers, ride e-bikes on amazing hard surface and soft-surface trails while eating awesome food. We plan to democratize our key learnings by sharing videos online to those who can’t attend. We want to learn, connect and do.
2) Solve problems. We will facilitate innovation workshops to solve vexing problems in the space. After self-organizing in their area of interest. participants are walked through design sprints using a combination of design thinking, systems thinking, comedy improv and Agile principles. The goal is for each group to define user profiles & journeys, ecosystem mapping, prototyping and user/stakeholder surveys. The groups will present their discoveries and proposed solutions in subsequent festivals.
3) Ride new products. We will offer a community expo with demos where urban e-bikes, road e- bikes, mountain e-bikes, current industry bikes, scooters as well as parts and accessories can be showcased to thought leaders as well as the local community. Bentonville has become one of the most affluent and progressive communities in the South while Dallas, Kansas City, St. Louis and Tulsa are within ~5 hours drive.
PELOTON: Tell us about the riding in Bentonville and why this area is becoming a riding destination and a great source of enthusiasm and progressive thinking in the bike industry?
ICF: Bentonville is not a secret any more for world class riding. The Oz Trails are growing by a 1 ½ miles weekly thanks to work of fabulous trail builders and investment. The greenway and trails start from downtown while there are super easy trails for the absolute beginner to super gnarly trails for those looking for trouble. The food and drink are awesome in a human-scale and bike friendly town. You have to ride it to believe it.
PELOTON: If a brand wants to attend or be involved, how do they get in touch with you?
ICF takes place September 13-15, 2019 in Bentonville, Arkansas
All images by Denis Kremenetskiy