Startup Story: Riding His Way to Small Business Success

Steve Wellman
1-800Accountant client, entrepreneur, and kid-at-heart Steve Wellman tries out a 1972 Triumph Tiger 650 bike. Wellman launched a small business to design one of the fastest motorcycles in the world.
1-800Accountant client, entrepreneur, and kid-at-heart Steve Wellman tries out a 1972 Triumph Tiger 650 bike. Wellman launched a small business to design one of the fastest motorcycles in the world.

Entrepreneur Steve Wellman fell in love with motorcycles at age 7 and hopped on his first bike when he was 16. The power and speed of these snazzy vehicles immediately swept him off his feet. Little did he know he’d be starting a business with the goal of creating one of the world’s fastest production motorcycles.

In February 2015, Wellman formally established Wellmann Motorcycles, LLC in his hometown of Wenatchee, Washington. (He added the extra “n” to the name of the small business in honor of how his German ancestors used to spell it.)

Wellman is in the early stages of developing a prototype for the “super bike” he intends to make come to life, hopefully within the next year. He is teaming up with a bike designer and parts maker in the motorcycle industry in Southern California who is producing an incredible V4 MotoGP engine and frame himself.

“When he offered me the motor for use with my bike, it immediately elevated my bike into the stratosphere,” Wellman confides. “I intend to make a new classification of motorcycles that takes their inspiration from supercars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Koenigsegg, and  Pagani. The Koenigsegg and  Pagani models are my favorite because they incorporate the highest-quality design, materials, and production techniques to make a car that has no compromise on quality.”

According to Wellman, the biggest key in designing any vehicle that can be driven at very high speeds comes down to perfecting the power-to-weight ratio. He is attempting to design a bike with a 1:1 horsepower-per-pound ratio with over 300 horsepower in total.

“I’m pursuing every kind of technological advantage I can get to reduce weight and increase strength,” he explains. “I am using carbon fiber materials from the aerospace industry. It’s a special kind of pre-preg carbon fiber that is cured inside an autoclave, which is a high-pressured oven. Pound for pound, this material is stronger than steel.”

He is teaming up with South African manufacturer BlackStone Tek, a premier authority in carbon prepreg autoclave motorcycle parts. The wheels of his bike will be less than half the weight of a motorcycle wheel and are up to 3 times stronger.

His eventual goal is to make 2 prototypes – one to show others and one for testing. His dream is to take the testable prototype to the famous Nürburgring in German and the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

He’s clearly a bike enthusiast at heart and points to the historical perspective he has gained on the industry through his own research. He talks about the old Vincent Motorcycles brand from generations ago, which set a world land record for speed at 150 mph back in the 1950s.

“I want to achieve over 200mph myself and let others go for the 240mph speed that I think is achievable,” he says.
Wellman, 65, is a retired teacher who taught high school art for 21 years. He says it was a former student who got him interested in road racing. He finally got his racing license at age 60 at Portland International Raceway in Oregon and is now proudly starting a business to achieve his lifelong dream.

“It’s my belief that people who design super cars make them to see how far we can take human nature and how far vehicle design can be taken, and I am fascinated by that idea,” he says. “I love seeing people push the limits.”

Tips for Entrepreneurs of All Ages

Wellman offers up some tips for entrepreneurs of any age – and at any stage in their lives.

“Everyone should be encouraged to follow their stars,” he advises. “Even if you’re retired, which isn’t my favorite word in the world, go for your dreams. Follow the dreams of a 7-year-old, no matter how old you are.  My dad gave me a little plaque that says, ‘Dreams can’t come true if you don’t have any.’ One of my friends told me I have 10 lives’ worth of dreams.”

Small Business Funding Options

Thus far, Wellman has used personal money to start his research and development (R&D). However, he plans to delve into crowdfunding and hopes to find some investors in the near future who will back his idea financially.

Experience as a 1-800Accountant Client

As a client of 1-800Accountant, Wellman says he has been extremely satisfied with the small business accounting support he has received from the national firm.

“Business taxes and dealing with the IRS used to scare me so much,” he admits. “Working with 1-800Accountant, I know this will be a piece of cake. I couldn’t be happier.”

Photo credit: The photograph of Steve Wellman on a 1972 Triumph Tiger 650 bike was provided by Wellmann Motorcycles, LLC and is used with permission.

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