Generation-E is an entrepreneur who had a vision of something — and the gumption to build it. These business owners refuse to live in the shadow of large corporations; they carve their own path. Most importantly, they never settle. They’re always looking to hire the best people, create the best products, and use the best tools to manage their business.
We’re thrilled to spotlight these intrepid entrepreneurs for our Generation-E series this month, including Jeff Cayley of Worldwide Cyclery.
Jeff Cayley was 21 years old when he decided to open his own specialty bike shop. Three years later, Worldwide Cyclery has since doubled in growth every year and is on track to clear $3M in sales by the end of 2014.
Not bad for someone who launched the business off a $20,000 loan from his mom. “We paid her back in the first year at a pretty good interest rate,” he laughs.
For Jeff, this business was a natural transition; he’s spent most of his life in the bike industry.
“I used to race professionally and just absolutely loved it,” he said. “I knew I could run my own business well because I’d been in the industry so long and had good connections. I wanted to do things in my own unique way.”
Jeff says he always had the entrepreneur streak since he was little, including dabbling in eBay and the e-commerce world, selling old bike parts or home goods, like faucets. But Worldwide Cyclery was his “first true business venture.”
High-end bikes, world-class service
Worldwide Cyclery has differentiated itself in a few ways, including carving out a niche in the specialty bike market.
“We’re pretty unique as a bike shop,” said Jeff. “We’re a retailer of boutique, rare brands from all around the world, including Canada, Andorra, Poland, and more.”
The majority of their business is online, but Worldwide Cyclery also has a retail shop (along with their headquarters) in Newbury Park, California. In addition to mountain bikes, they sell apparel, accessories and other components, as well as “custom-builds.”
“Custom-builds are a really big thing in the industry,” said Jeff. “You spec a certain frame from a manufacturer, and you end up with all different components on it from other manufacturers. Working with customers to put these together is one of our specialties.”
Worldwide Cyclery’s customer base runs the gamut from professional athletes to weekend warriors. But the core values they focus on apply to all their customers, including:
- We always honor the manufacturer’s warranty on every item in the store.
- We offer a 30-day return policy on all new items we sell.
- We have outstanding customer service. We reply to emails with incredible speed, answer our phones 99.9% of the time and if we miss a call, we always call you back.
With over 4,000 positive reviews of their business, we’d say this strategy is working out pretty well for them!
Tools that help Worldwide Cyclery come out on top
“Starting your own business is a ton of hard work and effort,” said Jeff. “You have to be very persistent with it to get anywhere. Of course, you have the usual red tape from the government, which means you have to learn a ton just to get the paperwork done correctly.”
“It’s been an incredibly fun ride, growing the business and continuing to automate more of our processes,” he added.
“Our bookkeeper at Windigo recommended Gusto for two reasons,” said Jeff. “Number #1: it syncs with Xero. Number #2: it’s simple, awesome payroll. I’ve loved it ever since. Hands down, it’s the best product out there.”
Integrations like Xero and Gusto are vital to Jeff’s business. “It’s so important that these two platforms can talk to each other. This means there’s way less manual entry, which saves a lot of time.”
Since Jeff is always traveling to meet his customers around the world (and ride with them!), using modern, cloud-based tools is critical. “I need to be able to login from anywhere and see what’s going on with my business,” he said.
A big thank you to Jeff for sharing his story with us! What a fantastic example of Generation-E. As an entrepreneur, he never accepts the status quo — either in the way he runs his business or how he treats his customers.