The two-time Australian Young Entrepreneur of the Year, three-time Australian Business of the Year winner and runner-up International Young Entrepreneur of the Year started out as a teenager oozing passion and ideas but lacking finance, and yet managed to grow his business braaap to the $ ….enterprise it is today.
His relaxed appearance may be typical of a bike enthusiast, yet Brad is a corporate and personal leader with an astute mind for finance, a head for business and a heart for personal development and growth.
Behind braaap bikes and the consequent stores was Brad’s own love of bikes and the positive role they played in his upbringing.
He is no stranger to elite competition, currently ranked in the top 10 in the world, most recently finishing ninth at the World Mini Moto Championships in Las Vegas.
As a teenager Brad designed his own motorbike and flew to China to find a factory to build it. He refused to be daunted by the fact he had no money to put up front, and embarked on the seemingly impossible task of finding “vendor financing” in a foreign country – his philosophy, “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no”.
After being laughed out of more than 50 manufacturing plants and struggling with cultural and linguistic barriers, Brad convinced someone to make it work.
When braaap bikes started to take off in Australia, retailers suddenly wanted in. Yet not complacent with providing to retailers, the next stage of growth for Brad was his own braaap store.
To appease any disgruntled clients, Brad bought back his braaap bikes from retailers. When he met resistance from suppliers to provide stock for his store, he simply produced his own.
The first braaap store was launched in 2008 as the motorbike equivalent to a surfing superstore and braaap bikes became the only bikes in the world with a lifetime warranty.
In Brad’s first year of business he turned over $1 million and quickly expanded to four retail outlets. By 2010 he had signed a deal to launch in the United States.
Complementing Brad’s desire to keep evolving and growing, braaap headquarters includes a “think tank” to welcome ideas to DIRB (Do It Real Big), as Brad maintains that it takes the same 100% investment whether you run a massive operation or a modest one.
More than a showroom, stores are the complete experience where prospective consumers can share Brad’s passion.
Sales team members provide free lessons to utilise the opportunity to turn some enthusiasts into owners. More accomplished riders can tackle the ramp and jump, complete with soft, foam landing.
While soft landings may seem metaphorical for Brad’s own story, it hasn’t always been the case. When the global financial crisis hit, major finance companies pulled out of the market, threatening braaap’s survival. Yet rather than see the adversity as an obstacle, Brad’s answer was to set up his own finance business.
While braaap continues to grow, Brad’s ability to manage the empire stems from faith in his team: “Sometimes you’ve just got to back your team and know that you’ve built a business with processes that work.”
Brad Smith is an enigma who juggles a myriad of challenges as founder of a motorcycle business, a champion rider, a sponsor, an importer, a wholesaler, a retailer and manager of a finance business.
An admirable example of drive, passion and an appetite for growth, he will revolutionise the way you navigate growth and solve problems in your business.