2015 Archives

Cuban and Corcoran see bright future in Dallas-built bikes by SMU alum


The following is from the July 4, 2015, edition of Business Columnist Cheryl Hall in The Dallas Morning News. Fleetwood Hicks is a 1985 graduate of SMU, founder of Villy Custom LLC and designer of a limited edition SMU Centennial CruiserVilly Custom has four interns from SMU on its staff.

Villy Custom Bicycle

Alumnus Fleetwood Hicks, founder and owner of Villy Custom, and SMU student Adelaida Diaz-Roa, chief brand officer for the company, with the limited edition SMU Centennial Cruiser.

From the SMU Magazine:

Cruising Through The Centennial

Fleetwood Hicks ’85 offers a new spin on celebrating the University’s second century with his custom-made cruiser bicycles. Hicks, founder and owner of Villy Custom LLC, created the limited-edition SMU Centennial Cruiser to mark the milestone.

“The SMU Centennial is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it’s an honor to commemorate this milestone by offering my fellow Mustangs a unique way to show their pride in SMU,” says Hicks, who has competed on the ABC reality series “Shark Tank.”

The red, blue and white bikes sport special features such as an SMU “bling badge” on the front, the “SMU Unbridled 100” logo on the rear fender and a Mustang logo on the seat cover. Prices start at $549.

Hicks founded his company in 2009 and has made more than 1,500 cruisers, a recreational two-wheeler noted for comfort and durability. The bikes are fully customizable, from frames to chains. All bikes are built, packed and shipped at the Villy Custom assembly facility in Dallas.

Read the full story.

July 10, 2015

By Cheryl Hall

Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran will be tooling around Fire Island, N.Y., this weekend on a beach bike that wasn’t just made in the U.S.A. but right here in Dallas.

The New York real estate tycoon’s brightly colored cruiser was made by Villy Custom LLC. Villy and the guy behind it, Fleetwood Hicks, are among her favorite Tank investments.

“Fleetwood is a lovable free spirit — someone who goes by and you say, ‘Can I come along?’” Corcoran says. “It’s contagious. When you go to his factory in Dallas, everyone is drinking the Villy juice.”

Three years ago, Hicks was the first entrepreneur to strike a deal with both Corcoran and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on ABC’s hit reality show.

They liked Hicks’ concept, in which customers design luxury cruisers online and get personalized bikes shipped to their doorsteps within weeks. Each of them invested $250,000 for a combined 42 percent of Villy Custom.

The goal from the get-go was to build Villy Custom into a national brand and then sell it.

That’s still what the sharks are after.

“Fleetwood has an amazing product. There is none better,” Cuban says. “As an investment, it’s gotten better. Fleetwood has learned that he has to share Villy with the world and create sales, which he is finally starting to do.”

Cuban is happier with Hicks because the 52-year-old Richardson native has figured out a way to scale his custom-bike business from onesies and twosies to fleets of dozens and hundreds.

“We’ve always gone like this,” says Hicks, his hand at a slight incline. “Now we’re going straight up. We finally figured out that our big, big way to make money is doing large fleets of custom bicycles for big corporations.”

Sales this year should be about $2 million, quadruple the results for 2014, he says.

Hicks’ Shark Tank deal gave his company instant credibility and a spike in sales, but maintaining momentum has been difficult. “People think a $200 bike at Target is the same as what we do. It’s not even close in quality and precision.” . . . 

Read the full story.

Buy a custom SMU Centennial Cruiser.

Read Alumni News in the SMU Magazine.

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