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Alumni Spotlights

Four co-founders of Pure Cycles

Michael Fisher

BBA '11

Founder and CEO, Pure Cycles
Los Angeles, California

Industry: ,

Region: West

Michael Fishman turns campus need into successful retail startup.

Pure Cycles is one of the largest distributors of lifestyle bicycles in the United States. The company was founded in 2010 by four UW–Madison entrepreneurs whose vision was to build a bicycle company that would sell stylish bikes online and offline and make them accessible to everyone.

It all began in a dorm room, looking out on the bike racks below and wondering why there were so few bikes in general, and so few cool bikes specifically. Asking around campus, Wisconsin School of Business student Michael Fisher (BBA ’11) and his co-founders Austin Stoffers (BBA ’11), Jordan Schau, and Zach Schau (BA ’09) kept coming back to the same sticking points—people wanted to ride, but they wanted bikes that were simple, affordable, and (maybe most importantly) looked awesome before making the leap. With a simple design and a comprehensive business plan, the students won $7,000 in WSB’s Business Plan Competition in 2011, and Pure Cycles was born.

And what began as a quest to make the perfect campus bike, expanded as the company did. The office moved to California, they hired employees, got involved in advocacy and charity, expanded internationally, and hired more employees. The company expanded its product offering beyond just fixed bikes to accommodate a diverse customer demand and renamed itself Pure Cycles. The company reported $4 million in sales in 2012, and from 2011-2020, sold 200,000+ bikes to more than 50 countries across the world.

“We are passionate about getting more people on bikes—not just for the health and environmental benefits, but because it is just pure fun to ride a bike,” says Michael.

To streamline its distribution, Pure Cycles was acquired by Florida-based distributor JBI in April 2020.

Michael credits specific classes at WSB as most formative in helping to launch Pure Cycles.

“WSB gave each of us a well-rounded business education. The tactical skillsets we learned in accounting classes and entrepreneurial finance class have been especially valuable. The lessons on reading a financial statement also stand out,” says Michael.

Learn more about WSB’s Undergraduate Program.

Read a Q&A with Michael and his co-founders for more of the story.