One of Queensland’s most successful online retailers has just got its first shot of outside funding to keep growing and even expand overseas.
One of Queensland’s most successful online retailers has just got its first shot of outside funding to keep growing and even expand overseas.

Growing bike retailer sells stake to expand further

One of Queensland's most successful online retailers has just got its first shot of outside funding to keep growing and even expand overseas.

MTB Direct, which sells mountain bike parts, accessories and clothing, revealed this week that Sydney-based Odyssey Private Equity had taken a significant stake in the business.

Unfortunately, the precise details of the transaction, including both a significant equity stake and a cash injection, remain under wraps.

We do know the company has been growing strongly, turning over more than $10m a year and continuing to see revenue spike about 50 per cent a year.

But MTB boss Jen Geale told City Beat on Thursday that the business, launched in 2012 by two biking-mad couples, had "reached the point where we needed some growth capital''.

QBM Jen Geale
QBM Jen Geale

She said the fresh infusion of money will help improve the group's website, expand its range of products and continue the push into New Zealand which kicked off last year. Other countries might also be targeted.

With a bit of input from the gang at Deloitte Corporate Finance, MTB inked the deal with Odyssey largely because of its track record of success with other e-commerce operators.

Odyssey's $275m fund has a stake in Brisbane-based FRANKiE4, the mob who sell stylish orthopaedic shoes (no, that's not an oxymoron), and Adventure Operations, which flogs goods from OZTrail and Companion Brands.

Odyssey also has experience ushering firms onto the global stage, including FRANKiE4 and activewear giant Lorna Jane.

It's a long way from the humble origins of MTB, which high school mates Tim McCullough and Michael Geale (Jen's hubby) started in a Brisbane home garage.

Within 18 months they opened a shop at Annerley but that's been sold and MTB is now an entirely online operation run by the two gents and their wives.

We understand Paul Readdy and his team at Odyssey are not keen bikers but that can obviously change.

"We'll be trying to get the Odyssey guys out there soon,'' Geale vowed.

"That will have to be our first board meeting!''

RECORD BACKFLIP

That must be some kind of record for the speed of a government backflip.

The hasty reversal Thursday of the boneheaded decision to scrap the office of Queensland's chief entrepreneur followed howls of protest from Brisbane's start-up community.

After coughing up their Cornflakes reading the news, key figures took to Twitter to lambaste the change.

"We should keep the role and the office of the chief entrepreneur,'' wrote Peak Persona co-founder Aaron Birkby, who also serves as "entrepreneur in residence'' at QUT.

Aaron Birkby
Aaron Birkby

"It's an important role and to close the office would be both a huge loss and an extremely damaging message. It's a symbolic flag in the ground for innovation that we desperately need.''

Former River City Labs boss Peta Ellis endorsed the criticism from Birkby, a self-described "human transformation architect'' who also called for "structural changes'' in the way the office operates.

 

 

"It needs to be detached from government, given autonomy and long-term funding with fixed max 12-month appointments of entrepreneurs,'' he said.

Innovation Minister Sterling Hinchliffe had sought to scrap the chief entrepreneur's role in favour of an "advisory council'' of bureaucrats.

Now we'll have both thanks to the intervention of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Originally published as Growing bike retailer sells stake to expand further


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