Ed Mondello is an inventor. In 2006, Ed’s then four-year-old daughter was having trouble learning to ride her bike on the bumpy Boston sidewalks. He came up with an idea to create a bike that would eliminate the extra weight, pedals and chains to give her a more enjoyable ride. He first built a prototype with PVC pipe. When it was complete, Ed realized his daughter learned to ride quickly and her confidence soared. His 22-month-old son gave the bike a try and mastered balance quickly. That first bike was the beginning of Glide Bikes, the first U.S. business to develop and manufacture balance bikes.
Ed, his wife Lisa, and their children soon moved from Boston to Wilmington, North Carolina to grow the business. For the first two years, they made the durable, attractive Mini-Gliders and Go-Gliders by hand. By 2008, the self-financed business could not keep up with production demands. They needed working capital to hire staff and manufacture the bikes. During a Center event, Ed met UNCW SBTDC staff including business counselor Del Pietro. They talked to Ed about how the SBTDC could assist Glide Bikes with expansion to international markets, an unfamiliar area for the Mondellos.
They quickly sat down to work on getting funding, supply chain management, distribution plans, marketing, human resource issues and understanding exchange rates. Del and former SBTDC assistant business counselor Amy Cobb helped Glide Bikes develop a Fan page on the social networking site Facebook to connect with customers.
Ed sees the SBTDC as an excellent resource of expert advisors: “Del walks us through issues and concerns as they arise. He always plays devil’s advocate to help us see the potential outcomes of our ideas.”
Over the years, Glide Bikes has expanded to warehouse space to bring newly manufactured bikes from overseas to store and ship them to small dealers and large distributors such as Amazon, Costco, Toys-R-Us and Discovery.com. They have also been able to hire sales director Michael Bassano to help with sales and allow Ed to focus more on new products and markets, including special needs children, the aging population, and individuals with brain injuries who could improve from the bike’s balance-enhancing benefits.
Glide Bikes now sells products in the international marketplace including Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, Denmark and, most recently, Australia and is in negotiations with other countries including China. Interest in Glide Bikes continues to grow since they were featured on the CBS Early Show. And with the development of the Super Glider for riders who are 5' to 6' 2", everyone in a household can own a Glide Bike.
Glide Bikes continues to work with the SBTDC to develop financial projections to help them secure capital for expansion. “I think we’ll see a huge growth in the next 12 months. With the SBTDC’s help, I’m sure we will grow and be able to put more people to work.”
Story originally featured in the SBTDC's 2010-11 Annual Report.