The Asian Entrepreneur speaks with Joshua Hon, Founder and Team captain at Tern Bicycles about his entrepreneurial journey. Tern is an award-winning leader in urban bicycle development and started in 2011. A sister brand, BioLogic, focuses on urban cycling accessories and some of its most popular products include iPhone bike mounts and a top-rated iPhone cycling application that has over 100,000 users.
A fresh start
Prior to starting Tern, Joshua helped turn around and build Dahon into the leading folding bicycle company. Before Dahon, Joshua worked at A&R Partners, a leading Silicon Valley marketing communications firm.
Most of the people behind Tern have been in the bicycle industry for many years and wanted to focus their energies on urban transportation.
Focusing on Non-Riders
There are numerous companies making folding bicycles or bikes designed for urban transport but Tern’s core focus is on non-riders. They are people who take a short drive to the local supermarket or for coffee. Tern’s vision is to get non-riders out of their cars and onto bikes for these journeys.
The feedback on Tern’s products have been positive. The riders appreciate the balance of function and performance that the bikes deliver. Tern is only three years old but already have distribution in 64 countries.
Most foldable bikes compromise on ride quality. Tern’s bikes are different. The combination of patented technologies and unique features results in a remarkably good ride. Customers often ask “What’s the difference between a Tern and xx brand?”. As a response, Tern recommends riders to take a test ride and they will notice what makes Tern unique.
The people’s bicycle
The Verge is one of Tern’s best selling bicycles. The sleek hydro-formed frame gets a lot of attention. It combines light weight (the lightest version is 9 kg), excellent riding characteristics and a 10 second fold.
One of Joshua’s favorite features is the “Physis handlepost”, which is forged from a solid piece of aluminium (one of the weaknesses of most folding bike are the handle posts). It is incredibly stiff, easy to use and nice to look at. The Physis handle post is a key contributor to the great ride that Tern’s bikes are known for.
Tern’s vision and values
The goal is to make Tern a stable and long-term success by building a strong culture, getting the right people in every position and by creating great products for urban transportation. Tern operates in what they call RIDE values:
Respect – For ourselves, for others, and for the planet
Integrity – Do the right thing; do what we promise
Development – Work continually to develop and improve our products, our company, and ourselves
Excellence – Aim high, then aim higher
More about Joshua Hon:
Working Style: As team captain, Joshua establishes the goals, point the direction of the company, and to facilitate every member of the team to achieve their goals.
Viewpoint: Joshua is interested in exploring a concept he calls “sustainable giving” which involves asking organizations to donate their expertise and efficiencies, for example Tern’s massive economies of scale in manufacturing bicycles, rather than simply money.
The central idea is that in difficult economic times, companies will be much less likely to donate money, but their willingness to donate their expertise and efficiencies should remain the same. Joshua is a great believer in micro financing. He has personally experienced how difficult it can be to grow a business without adequate financing.
Education: Graduated from Stanford University with a Master of Arts in Organizational Behavior and Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology.
Place of Birth: Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA.
Family: Has two kids and much of his time goes to the family. Joshua and his family focuses on outdoor activities, which includes cycling (of course), hiking, kayaking, and swimming. Joshua’s passion has always been “Ultimate Frisbee”, a sport he helped bring to Asia.
Inspirational Entrepreneurs: Steve Jobs for his vision and dedication to quality. Tim Cook for his management style and his push on certain issues like clean energy, factory standards and diversity of workplace.
Lives in: Taipei, Taiwan
Favourite books: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien & Influence by Robert Cialdini.
Lives in: Taipei, Taiwan
Hobbies: Sports and Photography