Entrepreneurs are a pain in the arse, so full of themselves,’ says entrepreneur Dare Jennings, the founder of Mambo and cult motorcycle brand, Deus ex Machina. He should know.
“They believe they are geniuses, when all they have done is come up with a good new idea.” Jennings says.
“I guess I fall into the entrepreneurial category in that I like new ideas, but the thing about entrepreneurs that I dislike is their vanity!” Now in his mid-50s, Jennings sold his iconoclastic surf wear brand in 2000 and went in search of new challenges.
Established in 2006, Deus ex Machina promotes and celebrates a custom motorcycle culture that first appeared in Europe and America in the 1940s…The motorcycles are by far some of the coolest machines I have seen…not you American chopper garish variety, these are old school uber chic reinventions that draw more from the glory days of riding than they do from today’s sterile technology, these bikes have got soul to spare….and yes you can ride them in your Prada boots if you wish….
They are the antithesis to the new and too plastic or too computerized motorcycles of today…they are the childhood fantasy machines of yester years… full of personality, leaving behind a trail of poetic dust…like the chromed out BSA cafe’ racer I remember my friend Jose’ blasting out on back in the seventies…This is a new culture of restoration and design that has recently enjoyed a revival with groups of young enthusiasts in countries such as Japan, America and Australia. Motorcycles and parts are the core of the business, but the Deus brand also sells clothing and accessories, books, displays hi-fi, cars and artwork.
“I wanted to learn something new,” Dare recalls of his decision to walk away from Mambo and wanting to try something new.
“When I sold Mambo I traveled, and while in Japan I saw a fascinating bike culture with young guys referencing classic details from the 1950s.
“I used to stand on the street corners, see these bikes and every one of them was interesting – it was a very Japanese obsession with detail. I came back and said to (my business partner) Rod Hunwick, ‘I think this is it!’
“I had a great deal of respect for Rod and his business, his achievements and his knowledge. I figured I could tap into this. I could literally sit at his feet and learn the motorcycle business.
“Equally, I said to Rod that he had great motorcycle shops but they could never be more than that. Rod could bring the motorcycle world to me and I could bring the experience of developing and building a brand together.”
For Jennings, the key to taking an idea and turning it into a niche market with brand power was open thinking.
“You must throw things out, add new things, allow them to be – and then follow them through.
“Then you have to keep adding things to them as well so you are not just a one-trick pony. The good thing about Deus is that we hear from our customers that there is always something new, that we have challenged their preconceptions about what we do.”
“You see lots of people who are enthusiastic about projects and getting things started, but they don’t follow them through. The second half is making them work and making them financially viable.
“The skill is in having a good idea and managing the development process through so it works and ceases to be an indulgence.”
“I realized early on I was a ‘big picture’ person and I needed people who were good with the details. I had to realise what my strengths were and not beat myself up about what I was not.
“Try and work out your relationships and partnerships like that.”
“Deus ex Machina is the most pretentious name for a bike shop ever,” Dare says, “but it challenges people to work out how to say it. My theory is that it’s better they are talking about it than not. It’s a great name, it means God, it has sex machine in it …”
And there are plenty of punters who can get their tongue around the Latin term, which translates to, ‘God is in the machine’.
“Even now with the bikes we build, for a little bike that retails at a Yamaha shop for $6000, with the value-add and the passion of the Deus brand, we sell it for $18,000 to $19,000.”
How is that so?
Deus ex Machina is a step bigger than a brand: it’s a culture. Our openness and enthusiasm strike a chord with people, wherever they are…
“There are two kinds of businesses: those that compete on price; and those that compete on ideas – then you can name your own price. That was our conversation. Let’s sell motorcycles but infuse them with this whole other culture.”
The Deus philosophy recalls an era before the various pursuits of fun – motorcycling, surfing, skateboarding, whatever – were marketed into fundamentalist factions. All are welcomed under the Deus roof, where there’s simply respect for the honesty and enjoyment of the machine. Inclusiveness, authenticity, enthusiasm. It’s a simple and sincere pitch that has winged Deus ex Machina across the world. Deus ex Machina says simply there’s no ‘right way’ to do individualism, its all the same juice.
Since opening the doors at the Camperdown Temple of Enthusiasm Deus has spread its own flavour of internally combustible postmodernism around the globe. The way forward is one down, four up…I say keep on motoring….This is the bike to be seen riding on.
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