From Buppie To Biz-Wiz

Forget corporate America--Generation choosingthe entrepreneurial path to success

he launched Reynolds Racing, which sells BMX frames and accessories. He worked out a deal with a local welding company to produce bicycles made to his specifications. “The bikes were a hit,” says Reynolds, who worked from his parents’ garage. “It’s so satisfying to do something on your own, and it works.”

When the company began to take off, Reynolds left Northern Illinois University, where he was in his junior year as a business management major. In its first three years, Reynolds Racing sold nearly 2,000 frames; they went for about $220 apiece in custom bike shops throughout the U.S. and England. During that period, the company averaged profits of $30,000 per year.

By 1995, running a business and maintaining his status on the track was taking its toll on the young businessman, the only AA Pro to own a bike company. His company’s sales and his racing performance were beginning to lag. “I couldn’t concentrate on my racing because I was always trying to make money for my business,” says Reynolds. In 1996, he began looking for a distributor to help take off some of the load, eventually settling on System Cycle Supply (SCS) in Dayton, Ohio In September 1996, Reynolds inked a deal for the company to distribute his bikes. The relationship allows Reynolds to concentrate on his racing, while giving him advertising support and access to SCS’s database of over 30,000 bike shops around the world. He expects the relationship to triple his sales, and the fact that his bikes were on back order before SCS even had them in stock lends support to these expectations. As for racing, Reynolds says that “this year I’m going to get back on the top of my game.” If his business moves are any indication of his skills on the track, he’ll be in the winner’s circle quite often.

Jimmy McNeal, 24, also got his entrepreneurial start on the track. CEO of Bulldog Entertainment, a New York-based record management and production company, McNeal is a former BMX racer. He became an entrepreneur by arranging sponsorship deals with athletic apparel companies for himself and many of his fellow racers. “I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur after I had my first taste,” says the budding entertainment mogul.

McNeal started UPJAM Records in 1989, which he rechristened Bulldog Entertainment after moving to New York and teaming up with 24-year-old Joel Sylvain, who became Bulldog’s COO. (Vice president Diamond J., 25, joined the duo in 1994.) The company negotiates production and product endorsement deals, produces logos on several major labels, manages recording artists and provides marketing expertise for companies seeking to penetrate the Generation X market. “We’re the Generation Xperts,” they say. The company now has product endorsement deals with Boks (a division of Reebok), Oakley Sunglasses, Fox Racing and Greg Norman Sportswear. In 1995, the company grossed nearly $300,000, and expects to do even better after their group, FTN Clique, an R & B duo, debuts on Bulldog/Elektra Records.

The increased interest in entrepreneurship

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