Dmitry’s parents sent him to Europe to study with the probable expectation that he would return to Moscow as a banker or consultant, pulling in a six-figure dollar salary. Eight years later, he is running a small, 7-man business producing titanium frames in a dark-green, Soviet-era factory and dreaming of expanding production.
”This was a hobby; it wasn’t meant to be a business,” said Dmitry, 30, who began biking as a child in Kazakhstan.
While studying in Europe, Dmitry organized the sale of Russian titanium bike frames via his Triton Bikes to European customers as a side business to earn pocket change. He returned to Moscow in 2008, getting an internship with a prestigious international bank for the summer months, expecting to be hired once he finished his school thesis.
When the 2008 crisis hammered the Russian economy, the bank told him they would not be taking him back.
”I went on some job interviews during 2009 with investment funds and consulting companies, but people didn’t look happy, ” he said. During the interviews, Dmitry said he spoke more lively about the bicycle frame hobby than about banking. A managing director at a fund recommended he pursue his bike passion.
”I decided I would give it a shot for a year and if it worked out, I would stick with it,” he said.
Shortly thereafter, in Oct, 2009, he got an order for 40 frames that brought in a few hundred thousand rubles. He immediately bought a bed for him and his wife, an ex-model.
”I went from being a bum to having a normal life,” joked Dmitry, who said he occasionally drove a car to earn money. ”Regardless of whether there are hard times at work or good times, my wife is supportive.”
Dmitry, a father of two boys, says the bike business has had its problems over the years. There have been times when he has to delay salaries to at least one worker: his father, a career secret service officer. ”Sometimes it’s necessary for the business to survive.”
To boost cash flows, Dmitry said he will start producing standard titanium frames rather than just expensive custom frames, which run from $1,500 to $5,000. He hopes to start assembling complete bikes in the future.
This isn’t the first time that bikes have brought Dmitry and his father close together. ”When I was 11 or 12, my mom told my dad he should ride bikes with me. He never really rode a bike before that. So we rode a lot together.”