University student starts mo-ped business

VanMeveren has been in business for a month, and was inspired by a class.

University student Brian VanMeveren wants to help students get to class.

VanMeveren, a philosophy major, started his own mo-ped business earlier this year while taking Introduction to Entrepreneurship, a Carlson School of Management class.

Blaze Inc. has been open for business for about a month, and so far it’s been a success. VanMeveren said the company has sold quite a few mo-peds.

“Sales are great,” he said. “It’s been more successful than I could have dreamed of.”

Blaze houses its fleet in a showroom near Dinkytown, but VanMeveren said he hopes to open a store near the University sometime soon, as well as a Madison, Wis., branch later this year.

Alan Fine, who teaches the entrepreneurship class, said it’s as much about teaching students how to run a business as it’s about teaching them to get over their fear of trying.

“Most people don’t try,” Fine said. “They think about their ideas forever.”

The class attracts students from across the University’s disciplines, he said – even theater majors.

Blaze Inc. employs four people, including VanMeveren and three of his friends.

Luke Dillon, a recent University graduate, works on the company’s Web site. Although he graduated with an engineering degree, he said he enjoys sales.

“It feels like just a couple of weeks ago we were talking about getting a credit card machine,” Dillon said. “Now we’re expanding.”

Neither VanMeveren nor Dillon owns a mo-ped, but they said they want to buy them once they sell more of their inventory.

Mo-peds are a practical option for students because they’re fast, they make parking easy and they cost less than $5 to fill up, VanMeveren said. Mo-peds get between 80 and 100 miles per gallon.

Most of the mo-peds Blaze sells are 49cc, which means no special license is needed to drive them.

They cost about $999, but VanMeveren said he gives all University students a $50 discount.

Although VanMeveren was a professional gambler one summer, he said he enjoys business and hopes to own a car dealership someday.

“(Gambling) was not a good investment,” he said. “I’m an entrepreneur.”

Bob Hedstrom, owner of Scooterville near the West Bank, said mo-ped sales have been on the rise for the past several years, but getting a mo-ped business off the ground requires planning and research.

“They don’t necessarily sell themselves,” Hedstrom said.

Tyler Kilbury, an economics and Spanish senior, also works at Blaze.

The business has been a success because of VanMeveren’s hard work and determination, Kilbury said. “That’s why I’m on board.”