After spending a semester searching for an affordable bicycle, sophomore Micah Greenberg found an original business opportunity instead. Seeing that many other students also had a hard time finding cheap beach cruisers, Greenberg started Dormbikes, a business that offers a cheaper alternative to traditional stores.
“Last year, as a student living in Parkside, I spent about an hour every day walking in between classes to my dorm, fraternity and to social engagements,” said Greenberg, who is majoring in international relations and business administration. “I remember seeing an old used bike being sold for $95 at the University Village’s bike shop and thinking to myself that there had to be better, more personalized, more efficient ways to buy and sell a bike.”
Since the idea was born in December 2008, Greenberg has been preparing to launch Dormbikes. The company assembles and delivers new custom beach cruisers to USC students for as little as $95.
The company began promoting its service during the summer and made its first delivery Friday.
Students can log onto the Dormbikes website, www.dormbikes.com, and choose a bike model and color and accessories such as baskets and locks. Greenberg then receives the orders and sends an inventory request to wholesale suppliers.
Greenberg and his employees rent out a truck to pick up and deliver the bikes, which they assemble themselves. They deliver on Thursdays and Fridays to the USC campus and surrounding areas.
Currently, most of his
employees are friends who want to help assemble and deliver bikes, and spread the word of his business. Some of his friends joined because they’re too were in the same situation as Greenberg last year.
“I joined because freshman year I was looking for a bike and could not find one at the local businesses,” said Melanie Mathis, a sophomore majoring in political science and international relations. “I respect anyone who is taking that lead to help students.”
Greenberg runs his business from his room at the Theta Chi fraternity house, which keeps
overhead costs low, but Greenberg said he will still need to sell a large volume of bikes to make a profit.
“By customizing what we buy to the needs of our individual customers, we cut down on a lot of the expenses associated with a traditional bike shop,” Greenberg said. “Currently, we are hoping that volume will make up for the near wholesale prices our customers receive.”
Greenberg said he tries to sell his bikes for as close to wholesale price as he can.
Nikke Soremekun, a senior majoring in business administration and Spanish, said though Dormbikes’ prices can be cheaper, there are certain perks to buying a bike from a store.
“Compared to a store, the price would be lower because its coming from wholesale,” Soremekun said. “But a store would be able to handle and offer a warranty differently plus offer additional services than just a person. The only worry is that if this business gets bigger it won’t be able to offer what it is offering to its customers at a larger scale.”
Greenberg plans to make sure his business gives back to the community by giving 5 percent of his profit to a local charity. He also hopes to reduce Dormbikes’ environmental impact by recycling any packaging or waste throughout the whole process.
“I have strong ideals as to how a company should behave — its responsibilities towards its customers, workers and community,” Greenberg said. “I wanted to prove that all businesses can be managed responsibly and still be profitable.”
Greenberg said he drew inspiration from his father’s and
grandfather’s entrepreneurship — both started separate small businesses — and his business education.
“The goal of the company is to create a more efficient, competitive, customer friendly way to sell bikes,” said Greenberg. “As Dormbikes matures, I intend to direct even more of its resources towards philanthropic giving.”
Greenberg’s focus right now is taking care of his local customers and he said he remains hopeful for the future of the company.
“Right now, we’re just making sure we do USC right — Dormbikes has the capacity to expand regionally and even nationally,” Greenberg said. “To really break into the market, we’re just trying to spread the word about who we are and what we offer.”