Progress Lakeshore: Business plan accelerates Heavy Pedal Bicycle’s success

When Dan and Ann Holsen decided to put the pedal to the metal and establish Heavy Pedal

Bicycles, LLC in 2009, one of their first stops was to Progress Lakeshore (formerly the EDC).

She’s extremely glad they connected with Progress Lakeshore before rolling bikes and other

inventory into the store. “We had a vision of where we were and where we wanted to be, but it’s

not until you write it down that it becomes real,” said Ann Holsen, co-owner of Heavy Pedal

Bicycles. “They offered an E-Seed entrepreneur course and I thought, ‘That’s exactly what we


The coursework included ongoing review of the Holsens’ ever-evolving 17-page business plan

as well as one-on-one interaction with the instructor, who asked pointed questions about

everything from financing to bicycling terminology in the plan. “Creating a plan was instrumental

to making sure we had a viable business. It helped us communicate and make decisions

together. I hate to think about the mistakes we would have made without it.”

Progress Lakeshore encouraged the Holsens to submit their business plan to the 2010

Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Contest. Heavy Pedal Bicycles became a finalist. They

didn’t win that year, “but we did get the business plan, and I’m very thankful for that!” said

Holsen. They applied again in 2012 and this time, Holsen did her homework, making it to the

third phase of the contest that entails making an oral presentation to a panel of judges – much

like the entrepreneurs do on “Shark Tank.” “Progress Lakeshore was very encouraging and

helped us get to that level. We won third place in 2012 and $3,000,” said Holsen. That money

allowed the bike shop to increase the number of work hours for one of its two part-time


The Holsens also have been honored by Progress Lakeshore over the years as the recipient of

its Rising Star Award as well as Excellence in Economic Development Award. Receiving honors

like those, as well as achieving profitability goals and other milestones in the business,

prompted the Holsens to give back to the entity that has been instrumental to Heavy Pedal

Bicycles, LLC’s success. That’s included Ann Holsen presenting to Progress Lakeshore’s Boot

Camps that are geared to potential entrepreneurs tht put on twice every year. “These are people

who are sitting in the chair I was in. I shared our story and encouraged people who are

passionate about their product or service about going into business for the right reasons and in

the right way. I often say, ‘Until you go into business for yourself, you don’t understand. You

think you do, but you don’t.’ If I get to help just one of the 10 people in the class, it’s worth my


She says that because they’re a small outfit, Heavy Pedal Bicycles, LLC will never be a $25,000

gold star donor. “But we try to give in our own way by giving time and the voice of experience,”

said Holsen. For her, that’s encouraging prospective business owners to invest time well spent

with Progress Lakeshore’s many programs, including its boot camps and the 50 to 80 hours she

invested in creating a well-thought-out business plan with Progress Lakeshore’s guidance. “We

were fortunate to have this tool to start our business,” she said.

Contact Progress Lakeshore Call 920.482.0540 or for more

information on using their services to write a business plan and to apply for the Northeast

Wisconsin Business Plan Contest by December 31st, The Business Plan contest is hosted by

the Northeast Wisconsin Regional Economic Partnership (NEWREP).