One year ago today, myself and Sticky were waiting patiently like expectant fathers as our IT gurus from Mercia Digital brought ScooterLab kicking and screaming into the world. Scooter media would never be the same again and like a newborn child, SLUK caused a few sleepless nights along the way…
Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes look at SLUK’s first year and some of the people involved.
Before our launch we had our own respective freelance careers but that was about to change. Our hands had been forced by a six-month battle over the ownership of our own work. We stood our ground but realised it was a fruitless battle, so jumped headfirst into piranha-infested waters and hoped we’d survive.
ScooterLab.UK was the result. Months of planning, lots of headaches, weeks sat alone writing endless content and dozens of meetings with various web companies around the country finally started to materialise into something we’d be proud of. Our vision of a split site with a retro and modern side, nice layout and quality content was starting to come together.
We’d already given up our other work by the end of 2015. ScooterLab, or SLUK as it would soon become, had turned into an all-consuming time-eating monster. With no income for months, any savings we had rapidly dwindling and our partners putting blind trust in the vision we were creating, this venture would either make, or break us.
The internet is a peculiar business. Everybody expects it all for free, huge tabloid publishers have struggled with the move from paid newspapers to ‘free’ content. Trying to succeed at both is difficult and not many get it right. Our business plan (we use the word ‘plan’ very loosely) was for us to be funded by advertising and maybe sell a few t-shirts along the way. We were prepared to throw caution to the wind and in true scooterboy style, improvise if need be.
Thankfully a few early adopters helped us out in the beginning and we must thank the likes of Casa Lambretta, Lexham Insurance, Kymco, Pinasco, Rimini Lambretta Centre and TSR. Neither could we have survived without Putoline Oils, Readspeed Scooters, Midland Scooter Centre, SIP, Scooter Center, Vespatime or Datatool. There have also been a few other scooter shops and businesses who placed trust in SLUK. That trust in the early stages was based on nothing more than our reputations and a two-stroke infused pipe-dream. With no Google rankings or figures to back things up, it was surprising anybody wanted to get involved, but they did.
More recently we’ve welcomed Scorpion Exhausts and VE (UK) to the site and there are a couple of other big names waiting to come on board. Remember the names of the people who support what we do, and when it’s time to insure your scooter, or buy parts give these businesses a try. You can click through to their respective sites via their adverts on SLUK.
We don’t just accept anybody though. To be associated with SLUK your company or business needs to fit with our vision. Dodgy sex lines, male hair growth potions and scooter-themed cuckoo-clock makers need not apply.
What has SLUK achieved?
We’ve chosen to do things a different (some might say the hard) way. It would be easy to fill the site with click-bait scraps found on the internet and adverts that track your searches but we don’t. We also don’t have to put video content with our articles. It’s really time-consuming to shoot and edit footage, as well as take photos and write articles. But we take pride in our work. We want it to be relevant and give you the best reader/viewer experience.
Here are a few highlights to illustrate what we’ve achieved so far:
- We were first to road test the Scomadi 200 and Goodyear eGo 2
- Our modern side also brought you the recent Peugeot Metropolis launch
- We went head-to-head with the Honda PCX and Piaggio Medley
- SLUK were the first to show important new custom scooters like Tag Heuer, re-born Dazzle, Bluebird and Lower Class.
- Our SLUK-supported shoestring race team won a championship at the first attempt, despite Barrie breaking a collar-bone mid-season.
- Scooterlab brought the first news of technological developments like the Lambretta Casing Wars feature, and scooped the Scomadi vs Royalloy saga.
- ScooterLab has been accessed by over 346,000 unique users in 194 countries.
- We’ve given away over £2,000-worth of Sena Prism helmet cameras and countless other prizes.
- SLUK hasn’t charged anyone a penny to read all this top-class content.
- More recently, we’ve been involved in the design and development of many specific scooter products. Some of these are already on sale in the SLUK shop and others are still to see the light of day.
Roll call of honour
Many individuals have written for us, helped out with support and advice, done designs, taken photos, sent in stories, stuck up our stickers, worn our merchandise or bought other items from our shop. The following are just some of the main players we’d like to thank.
Firstly our other halves, Sticky’s wife, Tracy Round (she looks after all that boring stuff like invoicing and accounts, plus lots more besides). Without Tracy we’d have needed a grown-up involved.
Linsey Fraser, I fleeced her and bled her dry for a full year, she paid for everything during 2016 whilst we lived on an absolute pittance trying to get things going. She only muttered and shouted bad things about SLUK a dozen times every day…
Marcus & Marieke, for help, advice, friendship, features and much more as we tried to get this thing going.
Andy Gillard & Ann Murphy, good friends who helped out behind the scenes after Andy left Scootering. Ann has helped out with our Instagram account and Andy has written (and still writes) features for us. You can follow their own exploits at ScooterNova.
Barrie Braithewaite, Barrie jumped ship with us and helped out in the early days as he cultivated his racing return. He went on to win the 2016 BSSO Production Class championship under the ScooterLab banner.
Wookie, he was another freelancer to jump overboard. Although he was busy finishing The Knowledge (a four year commitment) and has just this week been given his own black cab and is now a London cabbie. He promises to write again soon…
Craig Robinson, Craig, AKA Kirk St Moritz (depending on which way the wind is blowing) kept us entertained last season with his novice race series and general ramblings. Craig is currently typing something for us from the comfort of his toilet.
Booga, he’s sent in lots of photos for our scooter ‘Rallery’ and his latest offering from the Modrapheniacs will be on site later this week.
Lee Hollick, Lee kept us supplied with stunning race images from all the BSSO rounds last season.
Simon Plant, for rally photos here and there.
Dean Murray, Most of the adverts you’ve seen on SLUK have been designed by Dean.
Steve Brown, Steve designed the excellent SLUK logo for us in the very early days before the site was any more than a binary concept. His brief to build a ScooterLab brand logo that could be worn on a t-shirt was fulfilled. SLUK Branded t-shirts are worn with pride by us and fellow scooterists.
Shaun Hodgkin, Shaun is chief in charge of chaos and adhesion. He’s our sticker king, he’s stuck up and distributed more SLUK stickers than anybody else in the world.
Stuart Lanning and Andy Barnes, both gave us help and advice gleaned through their own successful businesses.
Nick Prince; he found us melted at Scooterist Meltdown and offered his services for what became his ‘Something for the Weekend‘ tech series.
Too many to mention
There are countless others who have helped out, written features, sent things in, shared our posts or stuck on our stickers. Thank you to everybody who has believed in us so far, we couldn’t have done it without you.
One year on
We can’t say it was easy. Although the website was quickly a success in terms of readership it took a while for us to adapt things. Our plan to live off the advertising alone was at best optimistic. It certainly helps to run things but six-months of beans on toast certainly takes its toll (thanks to our partners for living through those flatulent times).
It was always a plan to sell a few t-shirts, so we started a mini SLUK Shop in August. That went quite well and before long we’d added a few other items, including our ultra-reflective SLUK jackets (they’ll be back on sale again soon) and Sticky’s old Coast 2 Coast screens.
We soon started thinking of other ideas and with Nigel – our plastics expert from the secret bunker – developed a few new screens, as well as the GTS SLUK Guard and Lambretta/Vespa XL5/Fireball range.
Thanks to everybody who has bought something from the shop so far, it’s helped SLUK to survive to its first Birthday and our families have been upgraded to beans and sausages on toast.
SLUKERS – we need your help
As you’ve read, SLUK is basically a two-man band. We provide new content on the website five days a week (occasionally even at weekends); that’s a full-on commitment. Thankfully we have a few regular contributors, without them we’d never leave the office. As it stands we still struggle to have holidays, this summer Sticky will be doing Euro Lambretta and I’ll be doing Vespa World Days so extra help would be very welcome, especially during the summer months.
We always need content, if you’re a reader and you have stories, technical solutions or help, want to do rally write ups or supply photos we’re always keen to hear from you. You can get in touch at editorial@ScooterLab.UK
What else can I do to help?
The simplest and most helpful thing you can do is to spread the news of SLUK and its amazing digital goodness to all your friends. You must all know scooter folks who have smartphones or computers but don’t really know how to use them. Show them how to access the site, how to register and best of all how to sign up for SLUK notifications so that every news story appears on your device as we publish.
Share the love!
We’re always on the look out for stunning new and preferably unseen custom scooters, unusual projects or scooters with a bit of character. Uniquely, we give a stainless steel SLUKed badge to owners of featured custom scooters for fitting to their beasties because we want them to have something tangible.
SLUK into the future
Longer term, we plan to:
- Simplify; we plan to improve menu navigation to make things easier to find (but the search magnifying glass at the top of the screen works pretty well if you are stuck).
- Innovate; both in terms of the content we offer and the specific scooter products we are developing.
- Expand; it’s time to make the SLUK team bigger we can cover more ground (particularly on the Modern side) and improve.
2017 will be an exciting year for SLUK. Thanks for being part of the story so far…
Iggy & Sticky