Managing a global business from Birmingham? Thanks to Forge, it’s easy

Kelli Eldridge, of Racequest
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Kelli Eldridge, of Racequest
Kelli Eldridge (pictured) and her business partners have adopted Forge Co-Working as the main office of their jet-setting, athlete-oriented company.

RaceQuest orients itself around one idea: “train and race with the pros.”  I interviewed Co-Founder Kelli Eldridge to learn how this world-class training camp and race touring company based itself in Birmingham!

racequest pool costa rica

Offering training camps, active vacations, retreats, and providing custom training camps for individuals, RaceQuest helps people have fun and enjoy their race day.  After training comes travel. A RaceQuest coach goes over the race, especially the cycling aspect with all its twists and turns, and give them an insider’s edge.

The night before Race Day, the coach also leads a guided, calm, visualized mapping of race day so competitors will be mentally prepared.  It’s a long day, no matter how gifted you are! But the endeavor doesn’t just challenge the athlete. Their families also need a plan, and often a guide.

“We take care of everything for the athlete and their family, and the only thing we can’t do is race for them.”

An especially popular trip is Challenge Roth, which is the world’s most popular triathlon (it’s like Germany’s Super Bowl).  RaceQuest helps people get out of their comfort zone, have fun, and enjoy their race day. The company handles food, lodging, even transportation.  And the results are obvious: “Many people have joined our tours and had their best performance, ever. And they’ve generously credited us with being able to help them achieve that.”

racequest cycle
Cycling often requires the most preparation in any triathlon

When was your company founded?

In October of 2012, I think like any good entrepreneurial endeavour, it started with fulfilling a need, and then sketching it out on a napkin.  All our clients say the same thing, “we will never do another triathlon like this without RaceQuest.”

There’s so much around the race that draws your energy away, and you need every bit of energy you can muster for race day.  My Co-Founders and I met, actually, in Hawaii. We all happened to be at the IRONMAN world championships, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Krista and I were both there as “sherpas,” helping friends.  We had this same idea for the business, and within the hour we had formed our company on the Queen K highway in the middle of a lava field!  Just lava and ideas, it was remarkable. Looking back, it means even more.

Inside Forge Birmingham
Kelli’s view from Forge, with a view of Birmingham’s beautiful architecture – Image credit James Ozment

How long have you been at Forge?

We started a LLC in Virginia in 2012.  We went live January of 2013. We based in Virginia because my business partner lived there.  We realized quickly that really all we needed was a good internet connection and a good airport.  We laugh now because we call ourselves “Two Chicks and a Laptop!” We decided after five years that it was a really great time to move the company to Alabama, and to Birmingham specifically.  Birmingham is white-hot, it’s a great atmosphere, it’s a great community.

How has working at Forge helped your business process?

Having some experience in Alabama, I’ve always had a bit of a foot in Birmingham.  I saw this starting to take shape, I’ve always had an eye on Forge. When they opened, I thought that when we relocate the business, this could be a good fit.

I came on a free Friday, met people, experience Forge, and was just so productive.  It’s a great space to work, but they also provide things like mail retrieval, which as travellers, we have to have that.  It’s great to have someone getting our mail, those are practical needs that are being met by Forge. We have the support system in place for us to go out into the world and do our business.

inside Forge Birmingham
Image credit James Ozment

Is there a sense of community working adjacent to other entrepreneurs?  Have you collaborated with any of your Forge neighbors?

This is a really great atmosphere.  It’s not just a place to work, it’s a real community of entrepreneurs.  Our attorney is around the corner, our accountants are around the corner.  We have a terrific setup here.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in the food hall?

Absolutely!  My favorite place in the food hall is Ono Poke, there’s a place in Kona that’s a poke bar, that serves exactly that type of food.  I love going down there for lunch, it reminds me of Hawaii. It’s very fitting, since we first got started in Hawaii.

racequest
Caption: RaceQuest clients enjoying a post-tour night out in Prague

What’s the biggest challenge of working independently?

It was a big leap, we went all in.  We invested our time and money to make this, and it’s a really awesome thing to be a part of.  The reward is that I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s a real privilege that we get to do this.  I can’t believe we’ve come this far.

My advice to anybody who’s out there in corporate America, looking out a window and feeling unfulfilled, my best advice is to organize yourself around what it is you want to do, and surround yourself with like-minded people.  Don’t put it off another day, do whatever you have to do to make it happen. We worked side jobs, freelance gigs.

racequest challenge roth
Racing to the finish at Challenge Roth 2017 – Image credit J. Andres Vargas

What does 2018 look like for RaceQuest?  They’re finishing their official move to Forge.  Later this year, over 100 athletes are going with the company to this year’s Challenge Roth!

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Author: James Ozment

I'm a Birmingham native who loves music, cycling, reading, and tech. Find me on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College, in Avondale, or hanging out with my cat