To say that William Angle offers a niche service might be an understatement. Angle founded Trail Labs, the only mountain bike suspension service center in the Midwest, in 2017. For Angle, it started as a hobby: The avid road cyclist started mountain biking in 2013 when he was living in the United Kingdom with his wife, Christina. Angle quickly joined the UK’s massive mountain biking culture, biking daily and training with several major bike brands. That’s how he met Ian Kennedy, the founder of the UK’s leading mountain bike suspension service center, TF Tuned. When Christina was offered a job at the family business in Springfield, Angle realized he had a unique service to offer outdoor enthusiasts in the Ozarks. He explored the U.S. mountain bike market and realized that suspension specialists were rare, forcing many mountain bikers to send bikes back to the manufacturer for costly, inconvenient repairs. The idea for Trail Labs was born.
When Angle opened his doors in 2017, he was eager to appeal to Ozarks outdoor enthusiasts. However, the first-time business owner realized he had a lot of work to do. Although the Ozarks had a major cycling culture in place, Angle had to educate his customer base. “I went around to all of the bike shops and tried to educate people about the necessity of [suspension service],” Angle says. “My biggest hurdle was probably selling the service, letting people know that this is routine maintenance that you really have to do. It’s something a lot of people don’t think about.”
After about a year of relying on word of mouth and face-to-face salesmanship, Angle decided to explore digital marketing. He quickly realized that none of the other U.S. mountain bike suspension specialists were investing in digital marketing, which informed his advice to other niche businesses: “See who else is doing [what you’re doing], and see where they’re not doing it well,” he says. “Ultimately, if you don’t market yourself, people won’t know you’re here.” Angle connected with Wake Creative, a local marketing agency, to develop a compelling digital marketing presence, working with cycling influencers and running a targeted ad strategy. It’s paid off: According to Angle, the business had its highest-grossing month ever in January 2019.