Rever fuels motorcycling passion | VailDaily.com

Rever fuels motorcycling passion

Special to the Daily

EAGLE — Motorcyclists are always looking for their next great ride. A new social network aims to help riders do just that.

Mark Roebke and Justin Bradshaw are the partners behind Rever (pronounced “revver”), a new web platform that encourages users to share and discover favorite rides, join groups and take challenges. The challenges on the site now include a ride to benefit veterans’ charities and one that challenges long-distance riders to see who is “America’s Ultimate Long Distance Rider.”

Bradshaw used to work for Eagle-based Butler Maps, a company that’s become well-known in motorcycling circles for producing top-quality maps for both road and dirt riders.

Butler Maps had been getting a lot of requests to digitize that information, Bradshaw said.

“In that process, I saw an opportunity for more than just (map) content,” he said. That content would include existing social media tools that riders could use to do more than simply post photos to Instagram or connect with Facebook friends. Those platforms can’t capture the experience of a good ride on familiar or new roads or trails, the partners say.

Bradshaw’s a marketing guy. To build a platform would require a tech guy. That’s where Roebke comes in.

Roebke was a founder of RTP, a lodging software firm that originated in Eagle County and at one time had 120 local employees. Since that firm was sold in 2011 and the operation moved to Dallas, Roebke has been working with various start-up companies and met Bradshaw along the way.

It didn’t take long for Roebke to see that other platforms hadn’t been able to accomplish what Rever seeks to do. Add in the fact that the partners are also avid motorcyclists and Rever was born.

Blending technology, passion

Blending the necessary technologies wasn’t easy and remains a challenge, Bradshaw said. But the website and app launched in May of 2015, and the partners in January of this year went to the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There, they ran into a strong ally: BMW motorcycles.

Monika Muhlfellner, of BMW, was in Eagle recently to talk to the Rever partners and was glad to talk about the company’s relationship with Rever.

Roebke said Rever is targeted toward riders of all kinds of motorcycles, from dirt to adventure to sport to street riding to touring. BMW makes motorcycles for all those riders. It would be logical for a company like that to make its own social network — Harley-Davidson has for decades had its Harley Owners Group, or HOG. But, Muhlfellner said, the German firm was looking for something to appeal to an audience beyond its existing group of riders.

“It’s not just about our community,” Muhlfellner said. “It’s about the riding experience. When you ride with friends, they may be on different machines.”

Besides seeking broader appeal, Muhlfellner said that a social media platform started by BMW wouldn’t be seen as authentic by users.

Rever seems to be building that authenticity. Roebke didn’t want to talk about user numbers, but he said there are Rever members in 119 countries. Those riders have logged millions of miles and thousands of rides.

With BMW as a partner, Rever is looking at securing a bigger presence in the on line world.

“It helps having a top (original equipment) brand’s backing,” Bradshaw said. “We have a shared goal, for the greater good of motorcyclists everywhere.” That goal, of course, is to have more riders riding. That makes motorcycling more accessible to both experienced and new riders, Muhlfellner said.

High-tech in Eagle

The fact that all of this is happening in Eagle is encouraging to the partners.

“A successful tech business can be in the valley — we’re already bringing in people,” Bradshaw said.

That can be a bit of a challenge. Muhlfellner is an avid snowboarder and has ridden both Vail and Beaver Creek. But, she said, “I had to look up Eagle.”

This is home for both Bradshaw and Roebke. Besides, there are all kinds of great rides all around this part of the state.

“Doing it all from (Eagle) is cool,” Roebke said, adding that the company’s office now is in a co-working space near The Dusty Boot restaurant. Having the company, and great riding, close at hand helps Rever’s founders balance their working and private lives.

Muhlfellner said she and a few other people at BMW saw passion in Rever’s founders. That’s why the big company sought out the new tech firm in Las Vegas.

A big company seeking out a startup is “not how it usually works,” Muhlfellner said. “But you live it and breathe it.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.



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