Q&A with Ravi Rajcoomar, Founder and Chairman of RISE
What was the spark that lit the vision for RISE?
Ravi: I’m a bike rider and have been my whole life. I guess like most of us it started as a kid and the freedom and adventure that my bike was able give me. I would say I become more of a sport for me in High School and came through the collegiate ranks and had opportunities to ride, race and build great friendships while improving myself, but I was fortunate to have that guidance. In developing RISE, I wanted to create opportunities for athletes in high school who are now looking at their collegiate and careers ahead…while also providing a way to develop talent. The cost of college continues to increase. There are universities, teams and clubs that have resources to potentially help with some of those costs through scholarships and other on campus resources. If our event helps even a few athletes find collegiate resources to become better cyclists, racers and better people, then we will be successful. Our overarching goal is to help athletes, of all ages, to be a cyclists for life. Whether we find the next Olympic Champion or we provide a path for a high school athlete to jump into a great collegiate program, and onward to elite and professional opportunities. Whatever the goal they bring, we want to build life skills, help act as a network of collaborators, and improve athletic performance on a bike.
Talk about the RISE journey to make it a reality
Ravi: It’s been an incredible process over several years, with many road trips to find the best host city for RISE. We met with groups and universities all over the U.S. and were lucky to have received incredible interest from great markets. After visiting with the El Paso team and seeing their vision for their community’s future and how cycling could be a big part of that sustained growth, we knew we had to be in El Paso. Our decision was not only based on just facility and location…it’s about finding a host group that understands into our philosophical pillar to find and develop quality talent, and have participation from varied civic interests, including the health and science leaders and one where there is a strong cycling community who will welcome our efforts.
What expectations do you have for the first RISE event?
Ravi: We see El Paso as the first ripple in a big pond of opportunity. We signed a multi-year deal with El Paso because we want to grow together and truly partner with them. At RISE, we want to attract interested athletes from other sports who may want to find out more about cycling, assess their talent, and then introduce some of the life skills needed to be a engaged athlete and citizen. We hope to gain interest from athletes that come from traditional endurance based sports like runners, volleyball, lacrosse, soccer as well as stick-and ball, action, and adventure sports. RISE is an opportunity to learn and test athletic skills. As the youth sports movement continues to explode around our country. We offer a platform to see how you stack up, where you can improve, and having meaningful dialogue and collaboration while having a great time along the way.
What is it about cycling that gains so much interest?
Ravi: Our staff, our advisors, speakers and brands partners are all athletes by nature. Many started as athletes in school…whether cycling, soccer, baseball, running or other sports. Across many different bridges, they all have had their specific cycling road, they still love it and participate in a way that works for them, even into their adult and professional life. For most it’s truly a lifestyle and key part of who they are as individuals. They want to help evangelize that message to the next generation and share some of the things they have learned on that road as good stewards and mentors. We believe the sport teaches great habits, discipline, life skills, importance of hard work, physical and mental endurance. It’s an athletic endeavor that extends into our various lifestyles. RISE is one of those bridges to help any athlete in their journey.
How do you describe RISE as an event?
Ravi: I like to say that we are a little bit of the NFL Combine meets a TED Talk with a splash of the Voice thrown in for the sport of cycling. All while paving a path to create and build relationships with coaches, nutritionists, scientists, physiotherapists and fellow enthusiasts of a sport that fuels a true passion to be a better rider and better at life.
What sold you on El Paso, specifically?
Ravi: Like Indianapolis has become the home for the NFL Combine, we felt Texas was a great place to put RISE roots. We received an incredible response from cities across the country and from the state of Texas. In all, we received over 80 proposals from across the U.S. to our RFP and initial inquiry. That positive response truly helped to validate our concept and knew we were on the right road to success. But what’s even more valuable is the spirit that El Paso shared in our quest for a fixed annual location, with a supportive community – growth, innovation, a centrally accessible and walkable downtown, great weather, and tremendous collegiate resource support from UTEP and Texas Tech and their health and sports sciences fellowships and programs. Our partnership with Destination El Paso and their incredible team of community outreach, marketing, venue and event management support sealed the deal.
“RISE gives athletes a great opportunity to come together at one location to test their skills, identify future talent in the sport as well as a pathway for lifelong engagement in wellness and the endurance lifestyle, all while experiencing innovative educational programs. It’s a big moment for the space and we believe a key part of its future.”
– RISE Cycling Symposium founder, Ravi Rajcoomar.
How will RISE grow with El Paso?
Ravi: We believe we have all of the resources in place for a successful partnership long-term partnership. We can draw from a large regional base of road cyclists, mountain bikers, endurance athletes, and interested traditional sports participants. Early summer is the ideal time of year for young athletes, parents and even cycling enthusiasts. From a timing standpoint in mid-June we aren’t competing with national or regional race calendar conflicts. The interest and support from USA Cycling, USA BMX, USA Triathlon, NICA, USA CRITS, and other USOC members has been great. And, it’s a weekend in El Paso we can own year after year and something to look forward to on the calendar. El Paso is experiencing tremendous growth as a community. They have vibrant cycling community of riders at all levels and visibility as a great and healthy lifestyle destination.
What’s in it for coaches and team delegates or representatives?
Ravi: One word – Collaboration. No where else is there a focused event for a broad cycling platform that gathers young and emerging talent coupled with enthusiast riders who all want to evaluate, educate, and improve themselves. Coaches can identify and evaluate talent based on performance, get to interact and know the athletes and their parents on a personal level, in a formal but relaxed environment. RISE is the first of its kind and will do our best to chart a course for success for all attendees – whether is athletes, coaches, parents, recruiters, or a more general interest audience. We are evangelizing the ideals of sportsmanship, talent, citizenship and some useful tools for life, opening doors of opportunity for athletes, their families, coaches, teams and the brands and co-partnering resources that embrace the sport. We believe all stakeholders can benefit from RISE with our key aim to facilitate meaningful collaboration.
You talk about the extended benefits beyond talent identification. Why is that so important for RISE?
Our vertical pillars focus on:
- Life Skills + Lifelong Learning — Education about people, peers, participation…our sport should be compelling and a platform for inspired communities…we are inclusive, multi-generational, and we want our athletes and their families to interact with coaches and team representatives who share our passion for human positivity.
- Unlocking Human Potential — As athletes, coaches, parents…we want to maximize the opportunity for RISE participants to improve in sport and life. It’s about shared learning and finding the reasons we commit to a sport that takes tremendous physical, emotional and mental preparation and work.
- Humanity — We believe this is a priority for young athletes. It’s a priority for Gen X, Z, and Millenials. Cycling has very few short cuts…we want athletes to embrace their spot in the sport along with teammates, fellow competitors, coaches and anyone who is part of their support system.
- Innovation – Cycling is and always has been leading edge for technology and innovation – faster, better, smarter, longer ways to train and perform. We’ll test the athlete’s physical and mental skills, and offer tips on how to optimize performance in a sport that gets more tech dependent every day. We believe in both sides of the equation. The “A” side is human: physical performance, nutrition, sleep, and sportsmanship. The “B” side is mechanical: wheels, frames, components, helmets, and wearables. We want to bring both sides of innovation and technology together to help develop complete athletes and outstanding leaders.
- Leadership + Legacy — Leadership builds legacy, in both sports and in life. Young athletes don’t always think ahead of the game, but we want to energize and challenge them to think about the life footprint they create. Cycling is a rare sport that relies on both individual talent and team effort, and we want to unlock those traits in all of our participants.
- Building Your Brand + Commercial Content Curation — Social media and technology often drive our personal content, and as a result we want to train athletes in ways to maximize the creation and marketing of their personal brand, and ensure they understand how multiple audiences gain access and are influenced by their public performance and persona. We want the curation of their experiences to be positive, while generating a strong public profile of athletic performance and leadership. Sports and competition is an opportunity to self-promote, but there are institutional, collegiate, and professional guidelines for how to best capitalize and leverage on success. RISE will unlock some of the confusion, and also offer tips for gaining a competitive edge.
- Community — Our vertical pillars are built on the principle of Life Skills and Lifelong Learning, and we want that journey to benefit each of our shared communities regardless if it’s a team, family, a group of friends or co-workers. Rarely is our success singular and without outside influencers. We strive for RISE participants, to recognize the important role in their communities, and give them the resources that help them achieve that success.
Why is testing an important part of the RISE platform?
Ravi: Physical and mental testing is a benchmark of performance whether the athlete is in high school, college or a weekend warrior enthusiast. This is a key part of the RISE Symposium. We measure where you are and where you can go, unlocking the personal potential within the individual. At RISE, balanced testing protocols run deep within our platform because it offers a baseline dashboard of where your performance metrics are as an athlete. It gives each athlete a standard within peer groups and provides a gauge for standard performance and endurance potential. Every athlete will be tested for speed, quickness, body type and function specific tests like max and mean power, lactate threshold, concussion protocols and certain skill tests that measure an athlete’s progress in decision-making situations. This dashboard of metrics is important for both athlete and coaches. These metrics are also useful when the athlete returns home for building training plans and optimize performance goals. We are also interested in the mental aspect of an athlete’s competitive nature – how they make decisions, reflex timing and the personality traits that impact their training methods and performance. Our speakers and panel discussions will offer insight, inspiration, and recommendations for optimizing performance.
Who will be the speakers and panelists?
Ravi: RISE will bring together some of the best cyclists, coaches, trainers, sports medicine experts, sports psychologists, nutritionists, chefs, and bike industry brand leaders, offering a one-of-a kind curriculum and compelling discussions. These are best in class, high achieving stars of their professions who care about educating and empowering our participating athletes, coaches, and guests.
Who is the RISE audience and who should attend?
We offer multiple goals for each of audience groups. The goal of the RISE symposium is to identify talent, but also educate and empower athletes with tools for performance, and maximize life-long learning.
We have three key audiences to reach at RISE:
- Middle school and high school cyclists and their parents who have the opportunity to build relationships with coaches, developmental team reps, and collegiate recruiters while also engaging with our speakers and panelists.
- Elite performers and weekend warrior enthusiasts…those athletes who have a passion to be better in sport and in life.
- Athletes that from other sports and have an interest in cycling. We hope to unlock the performance potential in these athletes and perhaps bring them into our tribe, at any level or age.
RISE is successful if?
Ravi: Yes, of course, we want to assist coaches and team leaders to identify talent and potential. But we are fully committed to building relationships, offering education, and developing tools for a lifetime of athletic and human performance. If our athletes unlock potential, find a school, college or place to compete and are engaged in our education vertical pillars, we believe we will have a positive influence in both their athletic and life’s journey. Come join us in El Paso!
A recruiter’s perspective
The RISE process is remarkable. It takes a deep look at each individual – from personality to discipline to athletic levels in one efficient process that helps me, and others in my role, quickly filter and find the best candidates.
RISE is being rescheduled to June 2021 – Stay tuned for details