eevee’s faced an uphill battle when they launched their flagship location in Vancouver in March. Like, really uphill.
For one thing, their product is niche. Personal electric vehicles (PEVs for short) are a growing trend, but bringing electric unicycles, eSkateboards, and one-wheels into the mainstream is a big step for products that, until recently, weren’t even street legal in British Columbia.
So things would have been tough, even if co-founders Bradley Spence & Lukas Tanasiuk hadn’t kickstarted their brand during a global pandemic.
But this isn’t just a story of success in tough times. eevee’s has struggled to keep up with overwhelming demand because, at heart, it’s a brand built on community, connection, and trust.
So how did they make it happen? Let’s dig in.
Get to know the community before launching the brand
First and foremost: if you live in Vancouver and have any interest in PEVs, co-founder Bradley is kind of “the guy.” Prior to launching the brand, he was just another enthusiast in the community.
“I was hosting group rides before we even opened the store. So I was kind of the guy in the city doing it for the one-wheel group,” said Bradley. “And that's another reason why a lot of people already know who I am and that I used to be the guy selling stuff out of my apartment.”
Bradley’s passion is so important here, because it made him a genuine resource in the PEV world long before launch day.
It means that from day one, he had a name, a reputation, and (maybe most importantly) the trust of his eventual customers.
Putting in the hours early on also meant getting to know the products. Like, really, really well:
“I built my name up in the community as a reviewer. So I would review all the accessories for the one-wheels and I tried all the different tires you can get for them. Because you can get treaded tires, small. Flat tires, round tires. So I reviewed, I think, 12 or more tires and you had to get about 500 kilometers, um, per tire, just to kind of get an idea, to get an idea, you need to break it in. And so I did this massive tire review and that kind of put me on the map in terms of who I was.”
All this passion, excitement, and grind is really important because it meant that eevee’s had a genuine audience and a sense of community from the very beginning.
When it comes to customer education, eevee’s has had to work hard. PEVs are a pretty niche product, and buying an electronic unicycle can be intimidating if it’s your first time.
Since the beginning, Bradley and Lukas have focused on creating a sense of comfort and familiarity within the buying process so that every customer leaves confident that they know what they’re getting into.
“It's like riding a bike once you learn. It's not that bad. And it's not as dangerous as people think. So our whole goal is to then convert people, one person at a time. So every Sunday we do free lessons. If someone pops in the shop, we'll give them the rundown,” Bradley said.
“We want to just create experiences to make sure everybody feels comfortable with their purchase. They know how to ride. And we also have this huge aspect around safety in the community... We're here to educate everyone that buys one, to make sure that they stick to road rules. And I actually think that helps when it comes to the whole customer too, because they can see that we really care about the public's perception.”
It’s not just a better way to shop. For eevee’s, education flows naturally out of their connection to the broader community.
Group rides and an intimate one-on-one shopping experience mean that Bradley and Lukas can work with the customer both pre- and post-purchase to give them the best experience possible.
It also makes them recognizable experts in an emerging field, which is a huge leg-up against other brands.
“We can immediately compete with these other online-only brands. And people, as soon as they see that we have a retail presence and that we were active in the community…they trust us. That builds a lot more trust with the customer, even though we're brand new business,” Bradley said.
Leverage retail space for one-to-one connection
eevee’s retail location is cool. Like really, really cool. Working with Bradley’s life partner, Kate, the founders designed a space with a totally seamless blend of brand aesthetics and functionality:
“We wanted to make something that was like an Apple Store experience, very minimalist. Space for someone to actually ride in the store and just like test drive from one end to the other, and something that was modular,” said Bradley. “There's pegboard holes there so we can actually move the shelving around, move all the products around.”
Essentially, rather than just showcasing the products, the eevee’s store is built for unique experiences.
This is perfect for a brand that wants to educate customers in a structured, comfortable way. The eevee’s approach to brick-and-mortar also allows them to highlight the aspects of their business model that make them unique, including the built-in service shop.
The intimate physical space means an intimate sales experience:
You can buy some of these scooters that we sell on Amazon, but you're not going to get a one-year warranty serviced in the back [of the store]. You're not going to get to meet the owners of the business. You're not going to have a conversation. You’re not going to be able to test it, drive it, touch it, feel it, go around the neighborhood with one of the owners of the company and talk about all the benefits of it.
Key takeaway: the shopping experience is one of the most important ways that independent retailers set themselves apart from (and compete with) the Amazons and Walmarts of the world.
eevee’s does this so well because they’ve built their in-store sales process around personal connection and education. Their brand values are on full display from the moment a customer enters the store.
Chase trends and friends, not fads
Lukas and Bradley are both seasoned, life-long entrepreneurs, and they’ve started enough businesses to understand that customer demand can be fickle and tough to pin down.
So what gives a brand staying power?
First, they recommended making sure that what you're starting is going to solve a problem and that you're not just trying to sell something to sell something.
PEVs have surged during the pandemic as people look for new ways to get outdoors. eevee’s is solving an immediate problem, then, but what about the post-Covid world?
For Bradley and Lukas, PEVs offer a different model for transportation. UberEats drivers, for example, often find that the range and performance of PEVs are better for supporting their livelihoods.
Long-term, eevee’s goal is to get cars off the road and cut congestion. This speaks directly back to the values and needs of their customers. Vancouver itself, as the home of the brand, has been working hard to cut carbon emissions and push toward alternate modes of transportation.
Essentially, Bradley and Lukas are building on broader trends in consumer habits rather than chasing passing fads.
Combine that with their focus on community and you have the fundamental key to their success: “Friends, not fads.”
From top to bottom, they’ve designed their brand around human connection.
They’re doing the things that don’t scale, sure, but the key to their success is the ways that relationships are built into their business model. Education and community-building are the cornerstone of eevee’s retail space, and that’s an approach with some serious staying power.