Have you ever dreamed of a life where you maintain residence inboth Europe and the United States and are constantly traveling theglobe in pursuit of cycling events, races and famous personalitiesto film/produce motion pictures? Meet VeloReviews member, MarkusNeuert, founder of CYCLEFILM and living this dream every day.
How did he wind up here? A look at Markus’ past will serve asour starting point.
Markus is from Germany, however, he has resided in the Statesover various periods of his life. He graduated from FloridaAtlantic University, Boca Raton with a BA in Business. Yearsbefore, he was an exchange student in high school, living inColorado. Prior to his college years, the Neuert family had movedfrom Germany to Florida to help their sons become US educated andof all things, attend the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy to becometennis pros. And indeed, he is a certified tennis pro, having goneto the same institution as famous players such as Andre Aggasi,Pete Sampris and the Williams sisters. One of his brothers did takethe training to heart and is currently a working tennis pro in theCayman Islands (in-person story to follow at a later date – Iwish).
After graduating from college, Markus struggled to gainemployment in the US, then moved back to Germany but finally begana career with Procter and Gamble in London (1999) as a financialanalyst. This first step in his professional life lasted six years.All along, however, he was becoming more enamored with his hobby offilmmaking. It started with documenting friends and family eventsand just kept evolving.
Eventually, P&G moved him to Geneva, Switzerland. Whileliving in Geneva, Markus fell in love with the outdoor sportsenvironment that became his back yard. His description of thehiking, cycling (road and mountain) and snowboarding perks up hisvoice with obvious glee. He began to seriously think what it wouldbe like to risk it all and pursue his dream. Attending filmfestivals and making connections allowed the dream to grow.
The struggle was internal and it was mighty. Markus admits, “…Inever had the guts to do that [film making] for a living. I alwaysthought that I needed a ‘proper’ job, that makes money…” But, theentrepreneurial spirit was growing, along side the experience of“his hobby”. He further admits to being scared, but in the end,developed the courage to make the jump, or as he puts it, “take thebull by the horns”.
Markus harnessed that new found courage and left Proctor andGamble in May, 2005 He left on very good terms and in fact, managedto secure some paying film projects from P&G. This made for amuch smoother transition into self-employment and bolstered muchneeded capital to get his business off of the ground.
All along, Markus’ love of cycling evolved. He had participatedin a number of both mountain and road biking events. His early daysof mountain bike races led him to the realization that he reallywas not, “cycling fit”. At first he sulked after his results in arace were less than stellar. Putting the bike away for six months,he one day awoke and got serious. In 2006, he switched to roadbiking and logged over 10,000 kilometers in the saddle thatyear.
So every day, Markus started the morning off with a serious ridethen came home and banged out emails and built his business networkthrough Facebook and other social platforms, race organizers andbike shops. It was the perfect combination to stay fit and have thetime to successfully build prospective client relationships andlaunch Cyclefilm.
The first break came quickly as he began to cover organizedsport challenge rides, commonly referred to as Gran Fondos. Whilethese types of rides are just starting to take off in the UnitedStates (see LeviLeipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo for example), they werealready red hot by 2005-2006 in Europe. Markus filmed these eventsand produced DVDs, which he sold to the riders and the raceorganizers through his website. The idea took off and he producedsome fifteen of these DVDs in his first year.
This new market and the video product he created for it, provedto be the perfect training ground to improve both his filming,editing/production and business skills. While not an “…Oscar™winning performance…”, Markus was able to sell about one hundredDVDs for each event. Word of mouth was building and he was on hisway to expanding awareness of the brand Cyclefilm.
The next step would prove to be Cyclefilm’s game changer.Markus’ attention turned towards documenting 2009 (the) L’Etape duTour to Mont Ventoux. Yes, ‘that’ Mont Ventoux.
For those unfamiliar, the “L’Etape” is a mass scale fully supportedorganized ride, which duplicates under race conditions, the year’supcoming signature stage of the Tour de France. This road cyclingevent often attracts more than 10,000 cyclists from all corners ofthe world. His idea was to document the ride ahead of time so thatthe participants who bought the DVD would know what to expect andhow to prepare. Thus, the ultimate video reconnaissance!
Markus had participated L’Etape in 2006 and successfully rode tothe top of Alpe d’Huez. He knew what would be important toviewers and he knew from experience that there were no completeresources to be found on the Internet or DVD. Like all smartentrepreneurs, he set out to solve this problem. The final filmwould need to educate the rider on what to expect, what the climbswere like, conditions to anticipate and what type of bike, clothingand gear that would be needed.
Since Markus would be on the business end of the camera, theviewer, he needed to find a solid road cyclist as his primarysubject. Through his network, Markus was introduced to, MichaelCotty, who is the marketing manager for Cannondale, UK and a “…very good rider…”. Frombehind the wheel of the vehicle (a technique not endorsed byMarkus) he literally filmed Michael as Markus drove and Michaelclimbed 172km and over 3,000m to the top of the ‘Giant ofProvence’!
The finished product, “The Roadto Mt. Ventoux, L’etape Du Tour 2009” is a polished andcomplete experience. The proof was indisputable as the discs flewout the door. Markus had discovered a niche product, withsignificant demand all while capturing his true love of cycling.Cannondale was also pleased and their sponsor’s logo is proudlydisplayed on the case and film itself. New projects are alreadyplanned with Cannondale.
Today, Markus is busier than ever. His latest project is “LizHatch – Come Ride with Me!” Liz is a hot rising star in women’sprofessional cycling. He has been documenting Liz as she races indifferent pro competitions around the world, most recently filmingher in Italy. You may seethe trailer here on VeloReviews. He will also be producing theInterbike TV coverage at this year’s upcoming Interbike tradeshowin Las Vegas, NV, in partnership with David Bernstein of TheFredcast and VeloReviews.com.
Cyclefilm is an amazing story and an example of acting on adream, hard work, leveraging the Internet and social media to builda company, a brand and a fan driven customer base. Chapeau Markus!Chapeau!
written by Jeff Helfand