Paul Freedman is the owner and founder of Rock The Bike, a San Francisco-based rental company that offers bike-based entertainment options, including pedal-powered DJ booths, lighting installations, and charging stations.
How he got his start: Freedman traces his interest in bikes back to high school, when he sold them as a summer job—and then later with Xtracycle and Yuba Bicycles, two leaders in the cargo bike movement. "I combined my love of practical biking with a desire to perform, doing bicycle-based street rapping with a pedal-powered party bike I called the ‘Choprical Fish,'" he remembers. "Crowds pedaled to power the show. My friend Nate Byerley was in the same movement with his bike blenders. In 2008, I purchased his company and integrated bike blenders into Rock The Bike."
What sets his company apart: Rock The Bike "eats our own dog food," Freedman says. "We use our own gear to entertain locally, then use our learnings to improve our product line."
What innovation means to him: Innovation is about accessibility, he explains. "We aim to make our own school of interactive pedal-powered events as friendly as possible to mainstream audiences. Lately, this has manifested in an improved seatpost that raises and lowers more like a piece of gym equipment—faster, more intuitive, and more secure. Then people will use that feature more, instead of just leaving the seat at the bottom." The company has also revamped its frames.
To Freedman, it's all about giving people a "powerful" feeling when they pedal during Rock The Bike's activations. "This is better for our mission of inspiring people to make change in the world," he says. "And it’s better for our customers, who are trying to put people in an open, receptive state, so they can connect with people about their message."
Career highlights: Highlights of Rock The Bike's event-related work include co-producing the Bicycle Music Festival in the Bay Area for seven years. "Producing our own events has always been a source of bonding for our fans and crew," he says.
More recently, Freedman has enjoyed working with clients like Google, Tennessee Valley Authority, Patrón, and UCLA. "Our work with Patrón and other alcohol brands is a new career highlight for me, because they represent the way our pedaling passion is making its way into mainstream settings," he says. "Patrón is trying to sell their tequila, and they use our bikes to sample margaritas. They only want to buy our product if it helps them connect with new customers. It’s a symbiotic relationship with our clients."
Working with these high-profile clients allows Rock The Bike to reach more people—and inspire more people to ride bikes, which is one of Freedman's passions. "Replacing car trips with bike trips is one of the best ways an individual can reduce their carbon footprint while improving their health and experiencing fun and community," he says.
His favorite thing about working in events: "From a business perspective, working in events is helpful to entrepreneurs, because word of mouth is so potent in this field. If you do something new and good, it gets seen, and you’ll get buoyed along," he points out.
Freedman particularly loves creating pedal-powered music events using items like Rock The Bike's two-bike DJ booth or 10-bike Pedal Powered Stage. "People are amazed how good the sound is for the pedaling effort," he says. "The performers connect well with the pedalers and audiences. The scene has an active feel, because there are more ways people can engage than at the typical amplified music event."
Back to the full list: Industry Innovators 2022: 13 Standout Event Vendors to Know About