David Weiner spent a lot of time in software. It wasn't until recently that he launched Priority Bicycles -- a cheap, lightweight, and incredibly sexy line of bikes that have blown up all over the Internet.
We talked to Weiner about his inspiration behind Priority and, most importantly, why he left a lucrative career to start a bike company.
OnMilwaukee.com: What were you doing before Priority bicycles?
David Weiner: I spent eight years in the bicycle industry working as a mechanic and then later doing software for bicycle shops. I also worked for one of the largest bicycle companies in the world before focusing on a career in the software business. As the CEO of a multinational software company, I spent the next 10 years of my life working with brands to grow their business by harnessing new technologies. Having grown up in the bicycle industry and living in bicycle-friendly New York City, I was constantly asked for bicycle advice from my friends.
Whether their bicycles were out-of-tune, they ruined their pants from a greasy chain, or they couldn't afford a quality product, they all seemed fed up. I quickly noticed a trend - all of my friends were looking for a bicycle that was visually appealing but not overly technical, lightweight, comfortable, easy to ride, easy to maintain, hard to steal, and affordable. These ended up being my seven principles of quality, and I’ve used this as the foundation for crafting Priority’s bicycles.
OMC: How did you start your company?
DW: After many years of talking about the concept of this bicycle, I wrote a business plan for Priority. I spent years showing the plan to friends before one day deciding that now was the time. I resigned from my position as CEO at UXC Eclipse, one of Microsoft’s largest business system implementers, in February and began working full time on Priority.
OMC: Why do you think it's doing so well?
DW: I feel like there is a gap in the bicycle market and that we have filled it. Everyone wants to be able to go outside and ride a bicycle, but until now that wasn't easy due to the hassles of bicycle maintenance, and the lack of affordably priced beautiful bicycles. Our bicycle is beautifully designed, free from routine maintenance, and costs under $400. Our bicycle makes cycling accessible to everyone.
OMC: Is this your dream job?
DW: I always wanted to own my own bicycle shop. Based on the last 10 years I spent in software, however, I realized that my skills are better suited for an online bicycle shop. Today I am delivering a product that will help more people love recreational cycling (which is my passion), and that is a dream come true.
OMC: Why biking? Why not something else?
DW: Priority brings together my mechanical knowledge of the bicycle and my experience in supply chain automation to make a really high quality bicycle affordable to everybody. This is the union of my two strongest skills and I am really proud of the result.
OMC: What do friends/family think of your success?
DW: When I resigned as the CEO of a successful software company to chase my dreams and build a brand around recreational cycling, many people shook their heads in confusion. However, with the success of our Kickstarter campaign, I am now getting a lot of high-fives. It feels really amazing to have the world embrace my idea. I couldn’t have done any of this, however, without my friends and family who have helped spread the word about Priority and supported my dream every step of the way.
OMC: What separates your bicycles from everything else?
DW: The biggest uniqueness to the bicycle is the belt drive. The belt replaces the common oily, rust-prone chain found on almost all current bicycles, offering quiet operation and a greatly extended life span. The frame itself is made of aluminum, which keeps the bicycle light, and again- no rust.
Also, our bicycle features a three-speed internal hub and foot brakes, each of which can go a long time without routine maintenance. We also include many accessories that are often an additional charge on other bikes, such as a really comfortable seat, kickstand, water bottle cage and tire pump. A bicycle on the market at this level of quality is typically twice the price of our bicycle or more.
OMC: What’s next?
DW: We’re working on a full line of accessories to complement our bicycles, which should be available by December. Our accessories will follow our current design philosophies -- beautiful looking, functional, yet affordable.
Jeremy Glass is a Connecticut-born writer with a deep appreciation for pretty ladies, fast food and white T-shirts.
He's the Vice editor for Supercompressor.com and recently released a book of short stories called Aimless.