California emergency physician brings pedal-less bicycle to U.S.

He learned in Europe that training wheels run "counter to how you ride a bike."

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted Dec. 19, 2011

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Peter Emblad, MD

Specialty: Emergency medicine

Location: San Francisco

Company: Skuut sells wooden balance bicycles without pedals that allow children to learn to ride without training wheels. The Skuut is available from several websites as well as specialty toy and bicycle shops (link).

Annual revenue: Figures were not disclosed.

Why he started the business: Dr. Emblad traveled to his home country of Sweden a few years ago and saw young children riding wooden bicycles with no pedals or training wheels. The cycles were low and allowed children to move with their feet on the ground and, eventually, balance and glide along the sidewalk. He hadn't seen anything similar in the U.S. that was reasonably priced and thought it would be a good idea for American children.

"Someone over in Europe explained to me that riding with training wheels is total counter to how you ride a bike," Dr. Emblad said. "My own children learned how to ride a bicycle without training wheels by starting out on the Skuut. I loved the concept."

He found a company in China that made balance bicycles for the rest of the world -- but not the U.S. -- and launched the Skuut in 2006 for children 2 to 5. The product has won several awards, including a 2007 National Parenting Seal of Approval. Other companies have started to manufacture these kinds of bicycles.

When the company launched, Dr. Emblad's basement was filled with Skuuts that were shipped as orders came in. A distribution company now fills the orders.

Why he still practices: "I still love emergency medicine and always want to continue that."

Words of wisdom: "When you do something completely different, you can get a new appreciation for what is out there and what it takes to market, advertise, ship and receive. It's a fun journey."

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