About us - The Open Letter
But wait the unscripted version is bellow...
An Open Letter
Hi guys and girls. My name is Anze Cerin and I am the CEO of Approved. From today April 12th 2023 after a year and half since Approved started we are taking a different approach to everything. We are going to be more raw and even more transparent with what we do.
But first let me take you through my story, inside you will also have some business advice and maybe you will figure out why APPROVED lives...for now.
If you have any thoughts on our products, social media, podcasts all especially the negative critics please share them with us.
Timeline 0-21 Years Old
I don't want this part to be too long but here is just a glimps into my childhood. I started riding my bike at the age 3 1/2 - 4 years old. My first XC race was in my first grade I think I was 6 or 7 years old and I quit pretty fast after that and than I started with dual slalom in the year 1999 and I raced 4x, DH, BMX until I was 26 years old.
My parents had to work hard their whole life to achieve what they have so I had that hard work ethic instilled in me from a young age. I think I started working for a week or two in their cycling shop in the summer holidays from age 8 or 9 and then each year I worked more and more hours, days to earn some extra money...I finished high school of economics, went to college but it wasn't for me so I quit after a couple of months and started working full time in my parents cycling shop at the age of 21.
Thinking back I was always at the playground after school but I ate crapy food so I was always a bit chubbier. I had the trust of my parents so I could go to the movies alone with older friends at the age of 9. Although the crowds I hung around were never the best I always did "the right thing"...
Timeline 21-27 Years Old
I was still racing but mostly I was having fun. Enjoying the times we spent on our bikes for a whole day with only a couple of sandwiches building jumps and the thrill of that first test jump...something else :)
To be honest I would fire myself on the spot if I had me as a worker in this time period. Lazy, everything was hard to do...the only thing I was looking at was the time and when it will pass to get off from work.
I moved to my own apartment so this years were the craziest. Party, ride, work...repeat. I had a couple of bad break ups or that I thought they were bad breaks ups...so I decided this is me period and that I don't want a serious girl at least until I was 26 years old...
Timeline 27-32 Years Old
I stopped racing and started riding road bikes. At the time I was doing it more for training and to get in shape then doing it because I liked it. I remember being asked by a local reporter on the start of a 4x race why 4x and not road racing and I said "because we get to have fun on a race day and roadies also suffer on race days :D"
I think I finally realised that I need to do something with my life so I started thinking more strategically about work etc. More in the bellow section.
In this period I started playing poker and this thought me a lot about people how we interact and that sometimes it works best if you look at all money as "Monopoly money". The thing that really changed my work ethic and look on life was when I went on a 21 day vacation on my own. When you are dependent only on yourself it can be a "mind F!?#" moment. Coming back home from that trip I looked at everything more maturely but I was still living in cloud 9 and day dreaming a bit...There was another break up in this time where I learned to self reflect and put myself first and to be happy simply by doing the things I love and what I need to do in that particular day. If I ticked all the boxes I would go to sleep with a smile on my face...but unfortunately you start to realise that a day needs more than 24 hours :P
Timeline 32-35 Years Old
At this point I only rode road bikes. I probably went on a MTB/Gravel ride 20 times. I still love MTB and gravel but the problem is, it is more time consuming, the bike gets dirty and you need to clean it etc. I don't know I just prefer riding road bikes for that reason. I also had a crazy experience on one of the MTB downhills I had so that scared the shit out of me. But in all honesty I had even more crazier experiences on a downhill with a road bike and I still do it....excuses, excuses. I remember when an representer for Assos of Switzerland visited us in Slovenia and I told him we are going to Tenerife and he said if you manage to be in the top 10 from El Teide to the bottom you are a really good descender. Well I managed to get a KOM on a 30 minutes descend and I still hold it so I guess I am not that bad ;)
Everything changed when my daughter was born. I want to give her the best possible life so I started to grind pretty heavily. Waking up at 3:35 am and grinding before work than going to work and when I got back home worked some more...I love giving the right advice to cyclists in the shop, well I love to sell as well but I would often down sell or not sell just to give the right advice to the customer and I always love to talk about cycling especially with new cyclists and when they see you give the right advice and general interest that is why people keep coming back to my cycling shop and give referrals to other people. With my vision I think we build an amazing shop...
You can imagine this part of your life suffers when you love what you do and dedicate almost 100% of your time into it.
Timeline 35-37 Years Old
I stopped training and just started to enjoy every ride. I have a cycling computer just no power meter. I love going to the local weekly rides at Velo Bar and Jurckova since I am behind the computer every day I just like to talk and hang with fellow cyclist and talk about bikes and races...
Work Ethic - Approved Was Born
I didn't see the point of working for my old company. There were four owners and I was kind of the odd man out so after a couple of years of having the resignation letter written I finally decided to quit without any plan of what I am going to do next. Here is where I got lucky our current owner/investor called me and he said he needs something for his bike. I told him I don't work there anymore...and long story short a week later I gave a pitch to him and his CFO for APPROVED.
What makes APPROVED different to other cycling brands?
I always wanted to be different since I can recall. From coloring my hair, wearing some stupid hat or jewellery, I always wanted to stand out. I bought special colored Adidas shoes, LTD New Era hats and things of that nature.
And that got me thinking there is nothing like that in cycling. I had the connections and the know how so why not put out a Limited Edition cycling collection in a collaboration with Assos of Switzerland which is the best cycling apparel brand and for that reason makes this a perfect fit.
I want for this brand to have a full collection every year and the profits go into making reviews of cycling products. In short if you buy Approved gear we will have more money to buy bikes and cycling gear and give you guys an independent reviews which we all know are lacking...
What I Learned - Business Advice
1. See the people co-workers for who they are and not what you think and they think they can become
2. You cannot do everything yourself, you need a solid team
3. A good idea is not enough if you do not put in the work
4. Be prepared to work on average 80h per week
5. Don't expect others to do the same
6. Co-Workers must understand they are payed for the result and not for the time they spend in the office
7. Hire for a specific purpose
8. If you see a short cut, take it, it saves you time to focus on something else
9. Word "NO" is your best friend, try to get the explanation for it
10. If you know you did your best every single day, you have no regrets
11. Listen to your gut and not always the so-called marketing gurus
Why Me, Why Trust Approved
That is scary to answer but here are some reasons that I believe makes us stand out from other brands at least from what I hear from so-called marketing experts what we should do.
1. We do not have any fake reviews. Yes we would ask the customers to leave a review good or bad but never demand it
2. With all of our ambassadors/influencers they do not need to post any pictures with our gear and they do not need to tag us if they do not want to, we want them to enjoy the products and that they would want to post a picture with Approved products
3. This is my life and hopefully we succeed but if we don't, I want to leave with my head held high, with no regrets and knowing I put my best foot forward and tried my best every single day!
Nothing to see here... :D
Live by this Motto:
The more you approve of your own decisions in life, the less you feel the need to have them APPROVED by others.
Sorry if the english isn't the best...like I wrote at the beginning this is the unscripted version. Love all of the Approved supporters, enjoy your bikes and #letsride <3