After successfully launching their first business in New Haven, CT, Christian Bruckhart and Colin Caplan, owners of Limo Cycle Tours, a pedaled party and sightseeing bike tour business, took their knowledge and experience and expanded operations to the Sunshine State. Bruckhart shared the journey from tossing around business ideas over beers to launching a new business concept in New Haven and eventually purchasing a similar business in Sanford, FL.
"My original partner and I were sitting at a bar chewing the fat and talking about businesses when he mentioned the popularity of these traveling bar bikes in North Carolina, where he's originally from," Bruckhart said. "The next day, after we sobered up and had a chance to look into the idea a little more, we both still agreed it was a great idea."
Bruckhart, who works full-time as a Police Officer for the City of New Haven, and his original partner put together a business plan and reached out to several manufactures. Everything was moving in the right direction until Bruckhart's partner moved away in 2015. The idea sat idle for a year. When Bruckhart met Caplan, the idea came roaring back to life.
"Colin is basically a jack of all trades," Bruckhart said. "He's a published author, historian, architectural designer and he leads food tours. When we met, we realized we both shared a common love of New Haven. The party and sightseeing bike tour business was really a natural extension of what he was already doing with his food tours. It was a great match."
Bruckhart and Caplan, who later learned they grew up within a few blocks of each other, settled on a manufacturer, secured funding, purchased a bike and became New England’s first pedaled party and sightseeing bike tour. As the business grew, Bruckhart and Caplan began contemplating the idea of expanding. Around the same time, they were in search of more bikes. The original manufacturer, who they grew accustomed to, went out of business. This required Bruckhart and Caplan to search for used bikes. Their search led them to Limo Cycle in Sanford.
"The owner was looking to sell the business and had two bikes we really wanted," Bruckhart said. "We'd been talking about expansion and we both liked the idea of having an operation in Florida, so in April of 2017 we decided to buy the business. Around the same time, a mutual friend of ours, Rob Paul, who worked as a bartender in New Haven along the bike tour route, approached us about acting as consultants for him. He was thinking about moving to Florida and starting a similar business. Since we were going to buy the Sanford business anyways, we came to an agreement that he would run the new business in Sanford, giving him a chance to see if he liked it and then down the road we could discuss the possibility of a partnership."
Looking ahead, Bruckhart and Caplan have certainly considered the possibility of expanding to other cities. Unfortunately, right now, they're limited by a lack of manufacturers. According to Bruckhart, there is a mechanic they met in the last few months that might start building his own bikes. Nonetheless, expansion is a real possibility. In the interim, they'll continue to provide party-goers and sightseers in New Haven and Sanford with an unforgettable experience.
What advice does Bruckhart have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "When I considered this business, it seemed fun and pretty low risk and no one else was doing it. I think that's key. I also had faith in the idea. Colin and I are working on some other ideas that are risky, but if you get an idea and you believe in it, you just have to do it."