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A new spin on fitness: Meet Bijan Bolouri, Concordia graduate and co-founder of b.cycle

‘I want to build a company that can last for a long time’
August 17, 2022
By Daniel Bartlett, BA 08

A man in a white tank top laughs and looks to his right. “Don’t be afraid to take risks if it means something to you,” says Bijan Bolouri, BEng 08.

Bijan Bolouri, BEng 08, never thought of himself as an entrepreneur. When the industrial engineering graduate co-founded b.cycle, a Montreal spin and barre studio, in 2014, he laughed every time someone called him a businessman.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and his outlook changed.

“I remember having a Zoom meeting with my team right after we closed in March 2020. People were crying because no one knew what was going to happen,” Bolouri says.

“Then I read a story that really resonated with me. It said that when companies go through hard times, they don’t lay off their employees.”

The decision not to downsize wasn’t an easy one, especially with no revenue coming in. Bolouri knew that under the circumstances, he couldn’t sustain his staffing costs for very long.

After telling his employees that they would continue to receive their pay for at least two weeks, he cut his own salary and sat down to figure out b.cycle’s immediate future.

What happened next took him completely by surprise.

“We did so much crazy stuff,” Bolouri says. “We launched live on Instagram to provide free content to people who wanted to work out from home. We also began accepting donations, and people really stepped up. We had a full schedule, and support from our clients was running the whole thing.”

From there, Bolouri and his team continued to innovate. They generated new revenue by renting out bikes, launched an online platform and opened two pop-up locations.

And while navigating the pandemic was extremely difficult at times, the b.cycle team is now closer than ever.

“We believe in ourselves and in the company,” Bolouri says. “COVID was amazing for that. The challenge helped us learn and grow together.”

A man in a tank top works out during a spin class. Bijan Bolouri

Fitness fuels career success

Bolouri’s path to b.cycle started at Pratt & Whitney, where he worked as a manufacturing engineer following his Concordia degree.

Having completed two internships at the company through the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation, Bolouri thought the learning curve at his new employer wouldn’t be that steep. Instead, he found himself struggling early on.

“It was different than when I was a student,” he says. “As an employee, I had to manage important things and people took me very seriously. I worked hard and tried to do well, but I just wasn’t good at it at first.”

Fortunately, accomplishments outside of the workplace boosted his sense of self.

A few years earlier, Bolouri had completed his first marathon. By the time he was at Pratt & Whitney, he had finished multiple marathons and was training for an Ironman triathlon.

“I was doing things that I didn’t think were possible and it just fueled my confidence,” he says.

Soon enough, Bolouri was excelling at his job. Then, more than two years later, he decided to leave Pratt & Whitney for an opportunity at L’Oréal as a manufacturing engineer.

‘Have a purpose that drives you’

Bolouri had an even harder time adapting to the French cosmetic company’s culture but eventually rose through the ranks to become a manager in less than five years.

That’s when his father approached him with the idea of starting a spin studio.

“There was potential for us to make something that was really fun,” Bolouri says. “Through my story of having all this success with running and Ironman, I wanted to get all my friends to love this — fitness is a life hack!”

Now eight years in as the co-founder of b.cycle, Bolouri has no regrets.

“I love what I do, so I don’t plan on changing anytime soon,” he says. “I want to build a company that’s amazing and that can last for a long time.”

When Bolouri thinks back to his days at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, he has nothing but positive memories. He loved applying the practical skills he learned in industrial engineering outside of the classroom, as well as socializing with his classmates.

Bolouri also has advice for students getting ready to embark on their own careers.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks if it means something to you. Have a purpose that drives you.”


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