The world headquarters of Ello are somewhat tucked away in a workshop, where Paul Budnitz is assembling custom made luxury bikes. About forty percent of them he sells abroad. A certain Ben and Jerry opened an ice cream parlor just a couple of blocks from here in a crumbling former gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Paul showed me around the workshop and the website. Is Ello the Facebook-Killer, as some say? Unlikely.
Paul Budnitz is unconvinced that the only raison d’etre for a company is to „become a 30 billion dollar business“. He thinks that small is beautiful. And likes Vermont for its ban of billboards. „We are the Vermont of Social Networks“, he says.
He has not owned a car in decades. He decided to start his own bike company after unsuccessfully looking for a bike that would appeal to his taste. So he sold the quirky toy company Kidrobot and started Budnitz Bicycles. The motto when you enter the workshop is a quote from the King of Gonzo Journalism: „WOW! WHAT A RIDE!“ Indeed.
Here’s an article in Der Spiegel about my visit in Burlington on a rainy day in October.