Interview: Dirt Factory Manchester.

Just over a week ago, Manchester-based Dirt Factory launched its Crowdcube investment campaign. Dirt Factory aims to be the UK’s first and only indoor bike park, right in the heart of the country.

The team at Dirt Factory aim to raise £300,000 via Crowdcube, the investment for shares platform to create the UK’s first indoor bike park. Both the US and mainland Europe have similar parks already, and with our unpredictable weather, it’s a wonder this hasn’t happened before.Dirt Factory Machester Indoor Bike Park

Wideopenmag sat down with Dan Makin, Dirt Factory’s director, to find out what Dirt Factory is all about.

1. Who are the people behind Dirt Factory?

Our management team comprises professionals with construction project management, finance and accounting, marketing and education backgrounds. We have a trail building specialist who has travelled the globe designing and building bike parks, as well as a significant amount of experience in event management, bike coaching and youth engagement.

2. How did Dirt Factory come about?
Originally the group came together to discuss local trails, during that meeting we all asked ourselves the question with all the bad weather we get…why isn’t there an indoor riding venue? The actual Dirt Factory concept came from a 5 day road trip to the DH World Championships in Champery. Mark (trail builder for IMBA) was travelling to Eurobike and Dan (construction manager) offered to give him a lift, knowing they could catch the race whilst on their travels. Yes they were there for that incredible winning run from Danny Hart, stood right by the jump where he pulled that whip! The trip, their discussions and possibly the buzz of that finals run spurred on Dan to go full time with Dirt Factory and see if he could make the idea a reality. We all agreed it was something we needed in the UK and still couldn’t believe it hadn’t been done already. We pledged our support and got to work, we had a lot to learn.

Dirt Factory Machester Indoor Bike Park

3. What are your backgrounds in cycling?

We all love riding our bikes and have from an early age, we have 4 qualified instructors on the team who have worked with a range of ages and abilities. Mark created his own social enterprise which encouraged 100s of local young people to get out on their bikes. He currently travels the world as a contractor for IMBA trail solutions as well as constructing private trails and bike parks for a range of clients.

4. How did you choose the location?
We’re currently negotiating with several building owners, and have also had meetings to discuss rates, change of usage and insurance. Once we raise the remaining funds required to open through Crowdcube we’ll be in an ideal position to negotiate final lease terms.

Dirt Factory Machester Indoor Bike Park

5. What was the biggest challenge in finding the right location?
Height of eaves, transport links, proximity to the city centre, locality to other points of interest, overall size, access…the list goes on. There are lots of considerations to be made and we have a number of options at this stage.

6. What does everyone do at Dirt Factory and how will that change once you’ve got the funds to begin construction?
Right now we are focussed on raising the remaining funds through our crowdfund. Speaking to potential investors and forming more partnerships within the bike industry. The next stage will involve securing the premises and completing the build to specification, with Dan as project manager and Mark overseeing the trail construction. There’s a lot of ‘back office’ work to be done including customer management systems, café and bar, managing the rental space within the facility, we’re also looking for volunteer trail builders to undergo training before helping to create the park.

Dirt Factory Machester Indoor Bike Park

Fox Leaderboard 2023

7. What did you have to sacrifice to get to this stage?
Riding, partying, relationships and a few goats. Seriously though, time and money have been our biggest sacrifices.

8. Did you have day jobs that you had to give up?
Not just day jobs, but careers also. We’re serious about this.

9. Are you working alongside to make ends meet?
We all work full time jobs.

Dirt Factory Machester Indoor Bike Park

10. How make or break is Dirt Factory for you?
This is it…the culmination of all our hard work so far. This funding stage is crucial and will ensure our doors are open for winter 2016.

11. What made you want to go down the Crowdcube route, over other crowdfunding options or the other funding alternatives?
It’s a unique opportunity for our supporters to have a stake in the business, an investment. Back us from as little as £10 and we’ll look to reward you with a 320% ROI by year 5. Dirt Factory offers a fantastic investment opportunity based on our research, planning and forecasting and we feel serial investors who use the CrowdCube platform will see this and invest.

Dirt Factory Machester Indoor Bike Park

12. How did you learn what you needed to know to get to this point?
The team have a range of skills and qualifications which have been gained through volunteering, education and experience of creating similar projects, from working with schools and charities to building trails and bike parks. We have conducted extensive market research, asking riders what they want and whether the idea would work and we’ve visited similar businesses in the US and Europe to see what works elsewhere. We’ve been making industry contacts, chasing investment and working on a range of revenue streams for the business.

13. Where next for Dirt factory? How do you plan to go about getting extra helpers etc. etc.?
We have over 300 hundred registered volunteers willing to give up their time and lend us their experience and expertise in a range of ways. Once the doors are open at DF MCR we anticipate an increased demand for more indoor bike parks across the UK, we’ve already had interest from Europe and the Middle East but first we’re keen to prove the concept in Manchester.

14. Anybody to thank at this point in the Dirt Factory journey? Long suffering spouses/parents/friends?
To all of our supporters, family, friends and fellow riders, we wouldn’t be here without your encouragement. To those who share the Dirt Factory vision, our backers and those willing to make an investment. We love you all.

Right now we’re over 50% funded but we still have to cross the finish line to get the cash. Want to be part of a huge development for UK mountain biking? Get in touch via our website or make your investment before the end of February on Crowdcube you can invest anything from £10 upwards but remember ‘Your Capital is At Risk’.

To find out more about Dirt Factory head to their website or Facebook page. To invest in Dirt Factory, head to their Crowdcube page.