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The guys ready to deliver their first orders in February 2015.

Give us little insight into the people behind Versus socks and your involvement in cycling.

Hanno: We are two guys running the show at Versus. Both of us are passionate mountain bikers, so we make sure we keep a good work/ fun balance. We went to high school together in Stellenbosch and met through our involvement in the school's cycling team. After school the cycling didn't stop. Jurgens decided to give the world of professional cycling a go and is currently part of the Kargo Pro MTB Team. I'm more in it just for the love of the sport, so a trail ride with friends is ideal for me. In my spare time I'm also involved in trail building initiatives in Stellenbosch and plan on staying involved in expanding the current network of trails.

Why socks?

Jurgens: During a bike ride in Jonkershoek, middle 2014, the topic of cycling socks came up and with both of us always on the lookout for new business opportunities we realised that there's a gap in the market for affordable, comfortable, durable and just outright sexy cycling socks.

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Did you have experience in the textile industry before starting Versus socks?

Jurgens: Hanno had his own casual cycling inspired range of apparel (Roost Casual MTB Apparel) which he ran as a hobby while studying. This however provided more insight on running a small business than having knowledge on the textile industry. So we went quite blind into Versus Socks (industry wise), but learnt quickly all the in's and out's of socks and cycling socks in particular.

What is the key advantage of Versus socks over your competitors?

Hanno: We believe in creating cycling socks that are of a high quality, good looking, but still offered at an affordable price. We like to break the status quo in cycling socks and to create a brand that people want to associate themselves with.

Who does most of the sock design work?

Jurgens: Both of us are always on the lookout for new designs – be it in our daily lives or online. If something catches our eye, we start playing around with the idea. Hanno does the final designing and creates multiple options from which we choose the best and we then move on to sampling.

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Do you product test your socks yourselves or do you have athletes also contributing to the development?

Hanno: Most of the product testing we do ourselves. As a professional athlete, Jurgens is out on the trails/ roads quite a lot and through his interaction with other riders we have a good understanding of what riders are looking for in a cycling sock. We sponsor a few other local riders who also provide their feedback on the socks.

Your socks are made in South Africa. Are there any temptations to take the manufacturing overseas?

Hanno: We've looked at options of manufacturing overseas, purely out of interest and other people telling us that “China is the way to go”. After looking at the options, local manufacturing is still the way forward for us. We're able to reach the margins that we want to with the current local pricing and still supply the socks at an affordable price to consumers. Through all the negatives currently in our country we'd like to stay positive and support the local economy. Yes, it has its challenges, but at the end of the day we know we're doing our bit to help the local economy.

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Currently the socks are available through your online store and through retailers. Are there any difficulties with this model in our market?

Jurgens: For us, we purely offer an online store service for the convenience thereof. There are certain customers who prefer buying online, either because there's not a stockist near them or they enjoy the convenience of it. We're not trying to compete against our stockists at all, as without them, we won't have a successful business model.

Your Banana socks appear to have been very successful. What do you think has made these socks so desirable?

Hanno: Cycling in general is moving more and more towards funky colours and designs. Riders want to stand out from the norm and be/ look different. Our Funky Banana socks fit right in with this. It's an item that other riders will definitely notice and make you stand out from the crowd.

We've noticed a jelly bean design on social media. When will this be released and can we expect any more funky socks in the near future?

Jurgens: Pre-orders on our Jelly Bean socks will open middle March and the first batch of stock will arrive middle April. Riders can definitely look forward to more Funky Socks from us this year! We're already working on some more designs that we'll release near the middle of the year.

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What's your long term aim with Versus socks?

Hanno: Long term we'd like to expand our range of offerings and establish our socks as a well known brand in local and overseas markets. There are some other secret ideas as well, so stay tuned, you'll still see a lot from Versus Socks.

Do you have any advice for other looking to innovate in the South African cycling industry?

Hanno: Make sure to always provide good customer service. In a country where this is lacking quite often, people are hungry for good customer service. On top of that, don't underestimate the power of social media – it's free and if used in the correct way it could be super beneficial to any new business.

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