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Good Beer Hunting: EP-101 Podcast

Today’s guest is Michael Salvatore of Heritage Bicycles in Chicago. He’s an entrepreneur with a sort of gutsy, intuitive, creative approach to creating things like bike shops, cafes, and other community-oriented places in the city that I’ve grown to love as a customer, and admire as a small business owner. 

He’s one of those people that you start chatting with over coffee and walk away with some new insight into your own life and work without even realizing it. At least, that’s what happens to me when I talk to him. And I finally realized how valuable that was — so I decided to bring him in to the studio and record just such a conversation to share with you all. 

While his focus is on bikes and coffee, he’s quite connected to the craft beer world here in Chicago. We have a ton of friends in common and he’s always pitching new ideas that are relevant to the beer world too. So I think you’ll take a lot away from this. 

And if not, well, you’ll at least know a lot about one of Chicago’s up-and-coming business people, and you’ll probably be inspired to pay them a visit. 

 

LISTEN

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Business Insider: The best coffee shop in 45 big cities across America

Address: 2959 North Lincoln Avenue

Foursquare rating: 9.43

Heritage Bicycles sells both bikes and coffee — basically a perfect storm of hipster fancies. Inside, you'll enjoy good brews from Stumptown Coffee.

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Google Economic Impact Report

Few industries have more passionate devotees than artisanal coffee and hand-built bicycles. Individually, they conjure images of a vibrant and modern urban community. Together, they're the magic of Chicago's Heritage Bicycles. Founded by Michael Salvatore in 2011, Heritage combines Chicago's rich and proud manufacturing industry with a hip and contemporary gathering space for lovers of brewed beans. “Both bikes and coffee have very loyal customer bases, and we've been able to capitalize on both in Chicago,” Michael says. Long before becoming an international brand, Heritage knew the Internet would be the tool to help them gear up. “The Internet has always been the foundation of the business.”

Michael leverages a variety of Google tools to make the most of the web. He creates geo-targeted campaigns in AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to drive local traffic to their two brick-and-mortar stores. He expands his reach with global AdWords campaigns to promote e-commerce sales of bikes and accessories. Google Apps for Work facilitates instantaneous collaboration amongst employees and is easy to scale as the business grows. Google Street View takes customers on virtual 360-degree tours of their stores. Google Analytics helps Michael to better understand his customers and make timely, data-driven decisions. “Google Analytics is literally on my screen all day long. Those graphs and trends and real-time data help me determine where to put our energy.” And their results have been a small-business tour de force.

Sales have grown a steady 35% year-over-year and Heritage plans to open three more stores in Chicago in 2016. Michael believes Google has played a significant role in their success. “There are so many little things that these products help us with every day,” he says. “I don’t know that we’d be in the same place without Google.” Their hand-built bicycles may have earned them an international reputation as a mecca for discerning cyclists, but Michael is equally proud of the impact that he’s making closer to home. “We currently have 23 employees, and we'll soon have close to 40,” he says. “It means a lot to me that we’re creating jobs in Chicago.”

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Enjoy Illinois - Tourism Spotlight

Fully-customized, American-made with American steel, hand-welded Heritage bikes are the talk of the town—and the toast of the neighborhood. 

If you had asked fifth-generation Chicagoan Mike Salvatore what he wanted to do when he grew up, creating a handmade bicycle shop paired with a custom-roasted coffee emporium probably wouldn’t have made the top of his list—a notch below firefighter. But the best-laid plans sometimes have to take a backseat to an original idea that’s simply too good not to create. Heritage Bicycles on Chicago’s Northside is just such a creation. If you think this is just another run-of-the-mill bike store, you don’t know what happens when American steel is forged in the aroma of freshly roasted Arabica beans.

Today, Mike’s fully-customized, hand-welded bikes are the toast of Chicago’s hippest neighborhoods. Staying true to Mike’s keep-it-in-the-hood mindset, he and his wife, Melissa, pair hand-crafted, made-to-order bikes with coffee making craftsmanship. Both made fresh daily.

Heritage is a mecca of what’s cool, where the cyclist, the artisan, the techie entrepreneur and the occasional beat poet meet over cups of Mike’s freshly roasted coffee. It’s that classic proud to be American-made storefront, transformed into an urban oasis for coffee aficionados and everyone in the neighborhood who just stops by to work and hang out.

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Entrepreneur Magazine: How Coffee and Bicycles Created a Brand That Even Beyonce Loves

Entrepreneur Network partner, Cq Revolution presents Mike Salvatore, owner of Heritage Bicycles, sharing lessons he learned by creating a brand people love. The Chicago entrepreneur admits he doesn’t have it all figured about but with customers like Beyonce, Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, it’s clear he’s doing something right.

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