Founders of Lectric eBikes (based in Phoenix AZ) Robby Deziel and Levi Conlow
All Levi Conlow’s dad wanted was an electric bike that didn’t cause sticker shock.
So when he approached his son and his son’s best friend Robby Deziel with the proposal that they put their heads together to make obtaining his e-bike dream come true, the new college graduates started thinking.
“My dad was just entering that phase of his life when he wanted an e-bike for himself and my mom. Their friends had e-bikes,” Conlow said. “He was frustrated. He couldn’t find one for less than $2,000 or $3,000.”
This is when the professional exploration path of Conlow — equipped with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business entrepreneurship and leadership from Grand Canyon University — and Deziel — who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota — merged with dad’s personal quest.
“Our parents and their friends were said they’d buy one if we figured it out,” Conlow said. “The dream of being able to work for ourselves was always cool and we just went for it.”
Deziel added, “We put our heads together to make them more accessible for everyone without sacrificing quality.”
That union resulted in Lectric eBikes, Conlow and Deziel’s electric bike company that has become a monster in the industry just over a year after launching in Phoenix in 2019. To date, more than 15,000 of their bikes have sold. In June, the company sold $3.5 million worth of bikes alone, Conlow said.
This success rides on their two models, the original XP and the customer demand-inspired XP Step-Thru, each of which bears a more wallet-friendly price tag of $899.
The more they researched and got into the nitty gritty, they saw no reason for consumers to pay into the four digits.
“Other companies just wanted a higher profit margin. We’re really committed to a community of riders,” Conlow said.
Lectric is part of a global e-bike market that was valued at $23 billion in 2019, according to an Analytical Research Cognizance report. It’s also projected to be worth $46 billion by 2026, according to Fortune Business Insights.
This commitment has created a thriving business model that has relied on word-of-mouth. The idea: Deliver a product that generates strong support from customers, who will become natural advocates when they are stopped on the street by curious bystanders.
“We make it so customers absolutely love and support us. It shows the power of the customer advocate and what wonders they can do,” Conlow said.
Beverly Lambert has been one of those advocates from the start. She and her husband own two XP’s and have a Step-Thru on order.
Her husband used to own a bicycle store and they had owned every kind of bike on Earth. The last thing she wanted was another new-fangled version. But her husband bought them XP’s anyway.
She tried to return hers but was convinced to try it just once.
“I was like, whoa, this is really easy to ride,” said Lambert, who was impressed at its performance up a gravel hill. “I thought, ‘What just happened?’”
Today, Lambert rides it every chance she gets. She’s currently on a camping trip, where she and her husband use it to ride around the campsite, hiking trails and to run quick errands. She takes it on bike trails and the reserve area near her Norco, California, home.
Lambert has helped sell many Lectric bikes to friends and complete strangers who became friends after spotting her on the road and asking her about her e-bike.
Separating from the pack
Conlow and Deziel have been pals since the sixth grade in their hometown of Lakeville, Minnesota. College geographically separated them but they kept in touch and hoped to get into some kind of business together after they graduated.
They did. But for a while, it seemed their entrepreneurial dream would be just that.
At first, Conlow and Deziel, who moved to the Valley, designed several renditions and got fine tuning feedback from their parents.
Originally, they envisioned a sleek, high-tech version aimed at a young audience. They designed the bikes, sourced the manufacturing and were poised to dazzle at tradeshows.
But what they found was that their bike wasn’t practical for the audience that really wanted it. Among the complaints: people couldn’t fit on it; they wanted a more comfortable experience; and its traditional bicycle look meant it needed to be hauled on a car rack with other accessories, which quickly negated the bike’s low price.
“We could not sell those bikes to save our lives,” Deziel recalled. “With all of those lessons in mind, we went back to the drawing board.”
They emerged with what would be their flagship model, the XP. This version has smaller diameter wheels and is lower to the ground, allowing riders of various heights to easily get on and off. The handlebars and seats are adjustable and, because it’s a folding fat tire bike, the increased air volume allows for a more comfortable ride and no rack is needed.
It fits neatly into the trunk of Deziel’s Honda Civic. It can do mild off-roading onto gravel and hiking trails.
The bike also is assembled when shipped. All customers need to do is pump up the tires and make seat and handlebar adjustments and they’re good to go.
All of these, Deziel said, would be key factors that separate them from the pack.
“With some, you need to put the wheels and handlebars on and build the seat. One company asks you to build the brakes,” Deziel said. “The way we see it, we are the bike people. Not all of our customers are mechanics.”
A sudden surge in orders
Early on, no one was biting. Their parents were the only customers. Deziel was evaluating his bank account and figuring out how many days he could afford to live here before having to move back home.
“We had no inventory. No money. We were in debt to my dad,” Conlow said.
They took a gamble with the little money they did have, made eight bikes and sent those to influencers. With no funds to partner with them, the guys crossed their fingers that at least a couple of the influencers would post positively about their bike.
“We were on pins and needles,” Conlow said.
Soon, one influencer reached out and said he liked the bike would post a review. Still, they were skeptical. They did not set up a bank account and decided to put up a website at the last minute.
“No way people are going to buy a bike on the first day,” Conlow said of their thinking at the time. “We planned to make an account later.”
The first day the influencer’s video posted, $30,000 in Lectric bikes were sold. Over the next 24 hours, another $30,000 in sales, Conlow said.
“We knew we had other videos scheduled to come out after that first day,” Deziel said. “I thought, ‘I can’t believe this, this is crazy… oh man, it’s about to get even crazier.’”
By the time the company was 10 days old, a second influencer video had posted, generating $120,000 a day in sales.
Needless to say, that company bank account was set up real quick.
At the 21-day mark, Lectric sold $1 million in pre-orders. For the first few months, Conlow and Deziel worked out of a Phoenix garage doing $1 million a month. They worked 18-hour days and personally answered emails and calls.
“We were simply overwhelmed. We didn’t really have time to appreciate it because we were consumed by it. We were just trying to hold on,” Conlow said. “But after having nothing, we were excited to wake up and get to work and answer those calls and e-mails.”
Since then, they’ve added to their staff and moved out of the garage into a 13,000-square foot headquarters and showroom.
Most of Lectric’s client base is between the ages of 45-80, who haven’t been on a bike in a while or have mobility issues that prevent them from riding a traditional bike, Deziel said. However, they are all outdoorsy and enjoy time in nature.
Many clients, like the Lamberts, use their bikes around campsites, explore trails while camping or to run errands into town without having to unhook their vehicle. This led Lectric’s involvement with Homes on Wheels Alliance, a non-profit that helps people struggling with homelessness through converting vans into livable spaces and assisting them with managing their finances.
So far, Lectric has sponsored two build outs and plan to do more.
“We’re extremely excited and grateful that we are able to be part of it. Just knowing the impact is very important to us,” Conlow said.
Each bike comes with a one-year warranty, one of the amenities that Deziel knew needed to be worked out as the company saw its profile rapidly rise.
“We feel a great sense of responsibility as to what we are doing with our customers. We needed to get all of this in place so people can have a positive experience,” he said.
The Step-Thru model was a response to customers asking for an even easier bike to get on and off of. The frame allows greater ease to do that.
The first day the company announced its release, it sold $300,000 in pre-orders, Conlow said. He and Deziel had to answer calls and e-mails just to handle the customer traffic. It was then when Conlow took a call from a woman named Sue who had a leg condition that prevented her from getting on to the XP. She was excited because with the Step-Thru, she could ride with her husband.
“She was brought to tears telling me about the impact the bike would have and how it’s going to change her life,” Conlow said. “It reaffirmed why we do what we do and why we design what we do. We don’t want to leave anyone out and get as many people riding as possible. It’s a very cool thing to be part of.”
What: Lectric eBikes
Where: 2010 W. Parkside Lane, Phoenix
Factoid: The global e-bike market was valued at $23 billion in 2019, according to an Analytical Research Cognizance report.
Details: 602-715-0907, lectricebikes.com