Riding is Life


One year on: Where does your money go?

We're a lean, mean, premium content producing machine.

As I’m sure you all know, Escape Collective is 100% member-funded. So where did your money go last year? And where is it going this year?

One year on from launch, we have some good answers to both questions.

We’re a small, lean team and the vast majority of our revenue (your membership dollars) gets sent straight to the people making content for you. Breaking from established norms, we completely forgot to spend millions on office space and we don’t have a single middle manager. We don’t pay our executives 15 times what we pay our reporters or fill our staff kitchen with obscene amounts of milk. Because we don’t have a kitchen. If we did, who knows how much milk we’d buy.

Our staff create content, build products (like the website and some exciting things launching next week), or work daily with members. There’s no fluff and very little overhead beyond payroll. We’re focused on making stuff you like, because, as I’ve said a million times now, you’re our customer.

As we come up to our first anniversary, a few underlying stats from the two mediums in which we spend most of our time, writing and audio:

We put significant resources into original reporting and are proud of the results: Capital-J journalism in the form of vital stories like our look inside the collapse of Zaaf and the fascinating pursuit of UCI Overlord. We broke news and provided some of the best analysis of major news events you’ll find anywhere. We aren’t afraid to use non-written mediums, either, and Wade’s four-part deep-dive into the troubles of the cycling industry is a perfect example.    

We wrote essays. Beautiful ones. Sad ones. Essays about coping mechanisms and Dante at the Tour de France. We believe that beautiful writing has power, that being vulnerable is an act of strength, and that our fellow bike people are humans first, cyclists second, so we should speak to you as such.

Much of our best work occurs when we pony up for travel costs and put feet on the ground at key events. We had reporters at major races, including the Tour de France, Worlds, and the Classics, plus industry events like Sea Otter and the MADE show. James is off to Taiwan this week for the Taiwan Cycle show. Dave Rome went to the Australian Handmade show. The list goes on, and we want to do more this year.

From a financial standpoint, we are just barely getting our feet underneath us. We’re not yet profitable. But we know enough about our audience and our business now to create reasonably accurate projections – this has only been true relatively recently. This is what gives us the confidence to make hires, including a currently open role in our tech department.

So what’s ahead? Well, part of the answer to that is more of the same. Our editorial team is split off into beats that match their areas of expertise and passion, and that strategy remains unchanged. Ronan Mc Laughlin will still write and podcast about going faster on a bicycle; Iain Treloar is still tasked with building his own cinematic universe. We will write over 2,000 stories in the next twelve months, an increase made possible by hiring additional editorial staff and increasing freelance budgets, not by asking writers to acquiesce to our least favorite flailing media mating call, “do more with less.”

We dabbled in mountain bikes and gravel last year, and want to dabble harder. Plans are taking shape for fun, informative podcasts on both gravel and mountain bikes. Any new hires will be focused on these areas and much of our new written content will be as well.

Historically, we have sucked at things like Instagram. Part of that was intentional as social media plays a different role for a media company than it did a couple of years ago – it’s no longer a useful source of referral traffic. But you may have noticed us experimenting with some vertical video recently, if you follow us on the relevant platforms. This will continue. It’s not about generating likes or even revenue, it’s about putting our names in front of potential members. Top of funnel, as corner-office execs like to say. Showing more people we exist is a priority, and in the age of broken social and SEO, a huge challenge.

We’re proud of our first year. I think we delivered on most of our promises and over-delivered on a few. We tried something new and it took us a solid six months to even figure out the basics, to unlearn some things drilled into us over collective decades in media, but we have found our path, as a team and as a business, and know where we’re going. Thank you for coming with us, and for your support in what’s next.

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