I'm on vacation, and in between rowing my daughter around in an abandoned plastic kayak we found on the beach, and doing nothing, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about why I to do the things I do.
For many years I didn't own a car and lived on my bicycle. I used to put together my own bikes out of frames from the flea market, not because it was cool, but because it was cheap. Every day I'd carry my bike up five flights of steps so I could lock it on the fire escape outside my tiny West Village apartment.
When I finally was earning enough money to buy a nice bicycle I didn't. Most bikes for city riding were a combination of slow, heavy, uncomfortable, badly made, or just plain ugly. And the awesome shark-like matte black road bikes in bike store windows were built for racing — using them around town is sort of like riding a Ferrari to the supermarket. Or they were mountain bikes, which is a bit like driving a tank.
I admit that I'm super-obsessive about what I own. I'd rather keep just a few very good things that I use virtually forever, then own a bunch of junk that I never use and that clutters up my life.
I got frustrated. And eventually, indignant. If we really expect people to use bicycles (instead of cars), we ought to make bikes worth riding. And they should look awesome too, because when we fall in love with things own we are more likely to keep using them.
I taught myself to draw bikes in CAD, read books on bicycle science, started hanging around master bicycle builders, and spent way too much time in bike shops test-riding mass produced bicycles that I never bought.
That led me to have my own bicycles fabricated, which morphed into @budnitzbicycles when people started asking to buy my bikes out from under me. Today we sell about 250 handmade titanium bicycles a year, mostly through word of mouth.
Ello evolved in a similar way: my friends and I had begun to stop using the big social networks, mainly because they'd become negative and ugly and full of creepy ads. There was no special place for creators to share the things we love. So we built a network of our own.
I guess I do what I do because I get pissed off and figure I can do better.
There's also delight in making something new. But if fun is all you're looking for, you're going to give up when things get tough. A healthy dose of righteous indignation helps get you through.
Shameless plug: Budnitz Bicycles Model No.3 in Titanium, with matte Paratrooper Green paint. Honey leather Brooks saddle & grips, belt drive, custom titanium riser bars, seat post, stem, pedals, and fat 2.35-inch fat tires on 29-inch rims.