Meet Ryan Zagata, president of an urban bike company. He’s a proud ZenPayroll (now Gusto) customer based in New York — Williamsburg to be exact. In the following post we’ll take you on Ryan’s journey as an entrepreneur, from finding his business idea, to watching his first venture, Brooklyn Cruiser, truly take off.

Setting the wheels in motion

Though Ryan already owned a road bike and a mountain bike, he wanted a more comfortable ride for doing errands around town. He made a bargain with his wife Thea (a third bike would only be allowed if he got rid of the other two), but struggled to find one that he felt excited about, both in terms of quality and price point.

A trip to Vietnam proved inspirational:

“We saw people cycling in the streets everywhere, and they were on bikes that weren’t available at an affordable price point in the States. Not overpriced. Utilitarian.”

Full speed ahead 

After designing a spiffy, laid-back bike with beautiful vintage details, Ryan found a local manufacturer and worked with them to make a prototype. Since Thea works as a publicist, she handled the PR for Brooklyn Cruiser’s launch. The bikes have since been featured in The New York Times, The TODAY Show, USA Today and even VOGUE and Vanity Fair.  Business Insider called Brooklyn Cruiser one of the “50 Coolest New Businesses in America.”

The first Brooklyn Cruiser bike sold in August 2011 and the orders kept coming. Ryan knew they were onto something after they blew through their initial order of bikes, and every year since launch they’ve been doubling their revenue! In 2012, Ryan reached out to 70 bike dealers to gather feedback about making his models more bike shop-friendly, and promptly started distributing Brooklyn Cruiser bikes in stores. This year, Brooklyn Cruiser is projected to exceed $1 million in revenue, and Ryan is setting his sights on further expanding sales to Canada.

Zen and the art of business maintenance

To keep up with Brooklyn Cruiser’s rapid growth, Ryan hired more staff and started weighing his payroll options:

“The main thing is I didn’t want payroll to be in the way. I wanted to set it and forget it so we can grow our business and not spend money unnecessarily.”

Unfortunately he wasn’t pleased with what the traditional providers had to offer:

“Intuit’s payroll made me feel unintelligent! I was registering here, filing there — it really made my head spin. I talked to other providers as well, and all the unanswered questions left a bad taste in my mouth. At the end of the day, I just didn’t get the warm and fuzzies that I felt with ZenPayroll.”

Can payroll (of all things) really evoke positive feelings? A former software salesman, Ryan thinks it’s all in the user experience:

“I knew immediately how to use ZenPayroll and I love how everything they offer is designed to be automatic and included,” he said. “For instance, we have a lot of contractors, and now I can pay them from the same system without worrying about filling out 1099 forms or sending those to the right place. It’s all done behind the scenes, which is a relief.”

As more people join the Brooklyn Cruiser team, Ryan doesn’t have to fill in every employee’s details either:

“ZenPayroll lets employees onboard themselves because it makes more sense for people to be able to plug in their individual information, change any details and access all their paystubs. It makes life a lot easier for me, too.”

It’s stories like Ryan’s that remind us why we started Gusto (formerly ZenPayroll). Payroll systems today are unnecessarily complex and require too many manual tasks. Let us show you how delightful modern payroll can be. Companies from New York who sign up today will get two months free at Gusto.

Steffi Wu Steffi Wu, a contributing author on Gusto, provides actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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