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Café Du Cycliste Founder: How a Master’s Degree Helped Launch My Business

Café Du Cycliste Founder: How a Master’s Degree Helped Launch My Business  main image

Seven years after graduating from ESCP Business School with a MSc in marketing and creativity, Remi Clermont decided to start his own business.

He is now the co-founder and creative director of the hugely successful global cycling attire company, Café Du Cycliste, which he started in 2009. The brand now has stores in London, Mallorca and Nice and stocks its products in stores all around the world.

Learning about the industry

Learning about the industry

Clermont has a strong background in sport. Before deciding to embark on his master’s at ESCP Business School, he studied a four-year degree in sports science at Université Marc Bloch (which has now become Université de Strasbourg). 

At the time the two seemed unrelated and, for Clermont, deciding to do a master’s in marketing seemed like an unusual switch of direction.  

However, Clermont’s master’s degree taught him a lot about how to manage each of the different aspects of a business, knowledge that he still uses today. “Thanks to my years at ESCP I had enough understanding in many disciplines to be able to drive all departments in the early stage of the company,” said Clermont. 

After completing his master’s, Clermont went on to work with an agency offering corporate hospitalityprograms around major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. He then worked in marketing at a cybersecurity company for five years. 

In the end, all of these aspects combined to help Clermont start his business.

“Eventually it all ended up making sense,” he says now. “It’s obvious to me that the sport degree, the management degree and my personal sport experience are all bricks that helped me build Café du Cycliste.

“I feel as comfortable discussing the core values and the vision of our brand as I do when talking with a pro cyclist about his training program and the moisture management capacity of our latest fabric.” 

Fueled by passion    

Fueled by passion        

Clermont may attribute his success to his academic and professional life, but it was his love for apparel, fashion and cycling which initially encouraged him to start his business.

 “After ten years of professional life, I needed to go back and do something driven by pure passion more than any other reason,” he said. “I was working in IT and cybersecurity and I had come to a point in my career where I needed a change.”

On top of his professional and academic achievements, Clermont is a keen cyclist. He rides three to four times a week with friends and works to keep fit and explore the local area.

“I enjoy riding with people around the world. It’s a great way to hang out and meet new people while staying fit,” said Clermont.

However, turning his passion into a business wasn’t something that Clermont had particularly planned, explaining that it “came a bit out of the blue”. One thing that encouraged him to do it was a belief that, in the future, cycling would be more than just a sport.

“It is a mean of transport, it’s a social tool, a way to travel, explore and it provides health benefits – it’s a way of life,” said Clermont.

This vision is something Café Du Cycliste now tries to reflect in each of their products. 

Overcoming hurdles

Overcoming hurdles

Despite his expert knowledge of the sport and his professional background, there was a lot Clermont had to learn before starting his company. He had no experience in design, no knowledge of the apparel industry and had never before worked in B2C. As a result, Clermont faced constant difficulties. 

He took an active approach to these challenges, going to trade shows, asking a lot of questions and thoroughly researching all aspects of the business.

“I believe that the key to overcoming obstacles is perseverance,” said Clermont, adding that this is something he feels he learnt from his sporting experiences.

He explained that he had to learn to take everything “day by day, task by task and work hard to complete each of them”.

Looking at the overall picture did feel discouraging at times, Clermont admitted, especially when he became aware how much work he still had left to do. However, he didn’t let this stop him.

He said: “When it looks like something unachievable, tenacity is needed to overcome this feeling.”

The benefits of starting your own business

Benefits of starting a business

Initially, Clermont believed that the freedom that comes with running your own business was the most enjoyable element of Café Du Cycliste, despite the stress and responsibility that comes alongside this.

However, this has now changed. Today, Clermont says his favorite part of running Café Du Cycliste is promoting an active and healthy outdoor lifestyle. He describes this as a rewarding feeling which has a great deal of meaning to him.

His advice to budding entrepreneurs? “[Starting a business is] a fascinating experience and you will learn a lot from it,” said Clermont. “With that said, you can’t ignore that it’s going to take many hours of your days and pretty much all of your focus.

“I think you need to know what your motivation is. A genuine passion for the project and a good understanding of your motivation will make things go smoothly.”

Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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