Interviewed by Danasia Fantastic
If you live in a major city, chances are you or someone you know uses a bicycle as their main source of transportation. I mean what’s not to love about biking? Getting where you need to go faster than on foot and working out at the same time is always useful- and fun! Critical Cycles came across my radar a couple of months ago when I was looking to purchase a fixie for my boyfriend’s birthday. What caught my eye about this brand was how awesome their bikes looked and how ridiculously affordable they were. I ordered him the fixed speed with the pursuit handle bars and he absolutely adores it! The bike arrived 95% assembled (yes, you read that right), and it works like a dream. I recently interviewed the founder of Critical Cycles, Ely Alexander Khakshouri and discussed passion, lessons learned and entrepreneurship.
DF: Tell us how bikes became your passion.
EAK: I got my first fixed-gear and loved how much control I had and how it makes you feel one with the bike. From there I got interested in road biking.
DF: What has been the most rewarding experience since starting Critical Cycles?
EAK: It’s really rewarding to work in an industry where people love what they do. They love the products that they make and sell.
DF: What has been the toughest lesson you’ve learned since starting Critical Cycles?
EAK: I remember a specific instance early on where a customer opened their box and there was an empty packet of cigarettes in there with the bike. That really hit me, because every part of the experience is so important. The lesson was about the importance of having boots on the ground in manufacturing to ensure that we’re always putting out a great product. We made some major changes after that.
DF: What words do you live by?
EAK: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
DF: Even though you’re only 27, you’ve been selling bikes since you were 19. Any advice for first time entrepreneurs?
EAK: 1. Surround yourself with good people. Focus on the importance of good hiring.
2. When it comes to design, you have to trust your instincts and can’t be afraid to take risks.
3. Tell it like it is. Sometimes it might sting a bit, but it’s really important to communicate directly.
DF: What’s your favorite thing about living in Cali?
EAK: What I love about living in California is the dichotomy. On one side you have the state’s geography which makes it a big, beautiful playground for all my favorite hobbies – snow, water, riding my bike – we have it all. At the same time I live in one of the world’s biggest economies and am surrounded by incredible opportunities and a pool of talented, interesting people. I don’t think there are many places in the world that can offer that combination.
DF: What are your three places to hang, visit, bike to in LA?
EAK: Favorite bar: MA, the back room at Estrella Restaurant
Favorite Place to eat: Sweetfin Poké
Favorite place to ride the bike: climbing Mandeville Canyon