Friday, August 27, 2010

Going Google across the 50 States: Bowery Lane Bicycles in New York rides towards success with Google Apps

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: Over the past couple months, thousands of businesses have added their Gone Google story to our community map and even more have used the Go Google cloud calculator to test drive life in the cloud. To highlight some of these companies’ Gone Google stories, we decided to talk to Google Apps customers across the United States. Check back each week to see which state we visit next. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map.

Two years ago, Patrick Benard and Sean Naughton completed their first handmade bicycle. Shortly after, they opened Bowery Lane Bicycles in Manhattan with a commitment to having a positive impact on the environment and the local community. Today, they continue to design bicycles for the urban cyclist, build them by hand in New York – in a local factory that uses solar panels to generate 30% of its power – and sell them from their showroom and at city cycling events. Even on the business side, the founders have taken a community approach, working only with local vendors and freelancers.

A year after Bowery Lane Bicycles opened, Michael Salvatore, chief officer of just about everything, was brought on board to help run the business. His first task was to get the company operating and communicating on a more professional level by banning personal email addresses for work and implementing Google Apps so everyone had email addresses. From experience at previous companies, Michael knew that email addresses were only the beginning and started using Google Apps to improve other business processes. He shares with us how this was done.

“We rely on freelancers and friends located throughout the city to get projects done, and Google Docs makes this possible. Our friends have day jobs so being able to access everything online and collaborate with us in real-time, from anywhere, is not only convenient, it’s essential.

Google Calendar also helps us quickly spread the word among our friends about upcoming cycling and charity events where we’ll need staffing help. We keep a master calendar of all events and send out invites directly from Google Calendar. On the sales end, our showroom is viewed by appointment only, so we use a shared calendar for all of our scheduling.

To track inventory, I use Google forms. When a sale is made the model number of the bicycle purchased and other relevant information is inputted into a form. All the details are then populated directly into my spreadsheet and I can keep track of which bikes are low in inventory and when I need to order more. It’s simple but efficient.

With most of our business software needs taken care of, we can focus on our main goal – manufacturing the best bikes we can. Yes, we’re a small start-up, but we realized early on that successful companies need to be able to communicate quickly and keep track of their business as they expand. We can do just that, thanks to Google Apps.”

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