Austin Stoffers (BBA ’11) and Michael Fishman (BBA ’11) founded Pure Cycles in 2010, when they were still seniors at the Wisconsin School of Business. They teamed up with co-founders Jordan Schau and fellow student Zach Schau (BA ’09) to create an affordable single-speed, fixed-gear bike. Made popular by bike messengers in New York City, fixed-gear bicycles are known for functional simplicity, low maintenance, and good looks.
With this simple design and a comprehensive business plan, the students won $7,000 in WSB’s Business Plan Competition in 2011, which they invested back into the company.
Austin explains some of the initial hurdles in operating a fast-growing startup.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges as a startup?
Austin: The demand for our bikes has grown, and with that we’ve had to learn to forecast an inventory that can match demand. Lead times are two to four months depending on the season, meaning we can’t get inventory at the drop of a hat. As a startup, we are careful with financial forecasts, and ordering an accurate inventory has much to do with this forecasting. You can’t sell bikes if you don’t have any bikes to sell.
Q: What have you relied on the most from your WSB education?
Austin: [A class] on how to write a business plan. [It] showed us the importance of being extremely organized and thinking through every possible scenario to ensure you are well prepared for the things that you can actually control.