We caught up with Josh Sultan, Founder and CEO of Jetson Bikes, after a recent Strategy Sprint with his team.
Based in Brooklyn and formed in 2012, Jetson was founded with the vision of building clean, innovatively designed products that would create a community of happy riders. CEO Josh has over fifteen years of experience specializing in product development, wholesale manufacturing and large-scale distribution of consumer products. He started Jetson in pursuit of personal fulfillment and happiness, with the goal of making eco-friendly look good.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm a musician, a surfer, and an athlete. I grew up in a small little strip of beach called Deal, New Jersey. It's about a mile and a half long and it is very quiet and calm. I grew up with everything that I needed not everything that I wanted, and I worked hard for everything in my life. I’m no different than anyone else; I want what's good for the world. I want what’s good for my family and friends.
What drove you to start Jetson?
I knew I had to do something that was different and innovative but I also knew that it had to be fulfilling to me on a much deeper level than anything I had ever done before. It meant creating a culture that was different. It meant allowing people the freedom to explore what makes them happy and allowing them to live the life they want, while being successful at work.
When people say to themselves, they want an electric scooter or they want an electric racecar or go-cart, instead of saying “electric scooter” they should say, "I want a “Jetson.” Our goal is to become the number one household brand name for all things Electric Mobility.
What were the early challenges you experienced growing your business?
One of the early challenges that I faced when I started this company was that not many people knew what an electric scooter was. I had to educate people about Jetson, and demonstrate how it could be meaningful to their lives.
The other challenges in a start-up company come from being so fragile when you start out that you literally can fall apart from anything. Not having a lot of financial stability, not having resources behind you, not having distribution or anyone who understands and knows your brand can be difficult. Also every single month you are required to understand the direction you’re headed and be ready to change it on a moments notice. Having to change course and flex with all of the different things that happen with a start-up company is challenging.
What was the most surprising thing you learned as an entrepreneur?
I think that as an entrepreneur, starting your own business, you have this beautiful idea that your life will be as you want it to be. Then you realize that your business becomes your identity, versus just a place that you go to and then leave. I was surprised by how much I was impacted by creating an LLC, coming up with a brand name, and developing products. There's a tremendous amount of stuff that you don't know and you have to be okay with it. You have to swallow whatever pride or ego you have and realize that unless you seek help, and seek answers and find support you'll never get through it.
What has been the most enjoyable part of growing a company?
I get incredible fulfillment from seeing other people happy and really enjoying the work. I love those times that we're sitting in a room, connecting and laughing about what we're going to be doing next. Even though it's serious business stuff I enjoy seeing people love what they do here.
Another thing that makes me happy is seeing the impact our work has out in the world. I could be walking along the street in Brooklyn and I'll see a little kid riding one of our scooters on the street. It reminds me that our reach is larger than just what we think about every day when we're in our office making meetings.
How do you think about, and what do you do to ensure growth?
I think one of the most important things to do is plan and envision growth, don’t just wait for it to happen. I plan for growth and I think about it not just when it's happening, but also when times are tough. If you can't plan to get out of it, and if you can't see your way out of it, you're in trouble. Everyone says, "I'll believe it when I see it.” My answer back to them is, “You have to see it first to believe it.” Somebody also once told me when the ball is moving– push it. The minute that we feel content is the minute that somebody's probably working harder than us. So keep pushing it.
What is your advice for entrepreneurs looking to follow in your footsteps?
As things get chaotic, as your problems become more complicated, you have to find a way to bring yourself back to the reasons that fuel and fulfill you–whatever that is. It's the only thing that's going to make it worth it. A lot of times you'll feel very far away from what that is. I have to remind myself that it is a just part of the process of getting me to where I want to go.