34 | Founder | Heritage Bicycles, Heritage Branded | Chicago
Michael Salvatore began building a small empire in 2011 when he opened Heritage Bicycles General Store, a mashup of two of the hottest trends around: bikes and coffee. Soon, a coffee-only shop in Uptown followed. As a speaker at an international coffee conference in Brazil, the Edgewater native recently explained why the bikes-coffee combo is so magical. Both bikes and coffee have geeks, fans and regular folk who love them; they are "universal languages;" and they are complementary endeavors—bikes are big business in warmer months, and coffee sales spike when it's cold.
Salvatore, meanwhile, has started to ink bigger deals with corporations, such as a 60-bike order from a Colorado company he declines to name. He's also looking for outside funding—he says there's been interest—so he can ramp up production. And this fall, he launched a creative agency, Heritage Branded, where three full-time employees do graphic design, logos, copywriting and the like in an office above the Lakeview general store. The Heritage Branded office was, until recently, the home Salvatore shared with his wife, Melissa, and their two children. Across all of his businesses, Salvatore estimates he will draw $1.5 million in revenue in 2015 and upward of $2 million next year.
In his spare time: He's working on the “Uncle John Project” on Instagram. It’s a catalog of photographs by his great uncle, an avid photographer from the 1920s to 1960s. Salvatore found negatives squirreled away in the basement of a family home.
Up next: Opening three more coffee shops and a bar in Chicago.
Current obsession: The Netflix show “Narcos.”