than any previous generation. A study by Merrill Lynch found
that more than seven of 10 pre-retirees want to keep working.
Gallup reports that 80 percent of Boomer startups are built
as lifestyle choices meant to supplement retirement income
and keep the mind engaged. But some are far more ambitious.
Pedego, co-founded in 2008 by Don DiCostanzo and Terry
Sherry when both were in their early 50s, is an unusual hybrid.
It marries the experience of serial entrepreneurs in their 50s—
whose companies have the highest survival rate of any age
group, according to Carmen Cotei and Joseph Farhat, fnance
professors at the University of Hartford and Central Connecticut State University respectively—with the enthusiasm of
neophytes. The majority of those driving Pedego’s three-year
154 percent growth are retired or semiretired people starting
businesses for the frst time. They encountered the bikes as
consumers and came to corporate Pedego’s
rescue in the early days, when it was strug-
gling for lack of distribution.
Of course, later-in-life entrepreneurship
has its drawbacks. Just as DiCostanzo and
Sherry have built their bikes to accommodate
older bodies, they have also built Pedego
to accommodate skill defcits—chiefy in
technology and social media—among some of
their dealers. And the business model intentionally minimizes risk for a demographic
that has more money but also less time to
make up losses.
Still, the founders say they never had a
second thought about trusting their fortunes
to the AARP crowd. Pedego store owners
“are more mature and, I think, more rational”
than younger business owners, says CEO
DiCostanzo, an electric-vehicle zealot who is
on his third Tesla. “Think about the decisions
you make at 55 compared with when you
were 25. They’re probably better decisions.”
DiCostanzo notes that he and Sherry, now
in their 60s, are tackling the most ambitious
entrepreneurial venture of their lives, one
they believe can hit $100 million in fve years.
“I have more energy now than 20 years ago,”
he says. “We don’t think of the dealers as old
because we don’t think of ourselves as old.”
IN 2006, DICOSTANZO, closing in on 50, lived at
the top of a hill. The beach was at the bottom.
Biking home from surf and sand, his legs
rebelled. So he bought an electric bike online
and then seven more from diferent manufacturers. DiCostanzo liked what they did
(helped him up that hill), but he didn’t like the
bikes. Mostly for kicks, he opened an electric-vehicle store in Newport Beach in 2007.
The store was just a side gig. Back then,
DiCostanzo was enjoying new life as an
entrepreneur after 25 years working for a
manufacturer of automotive chemicals. In 2004, he launched
a magazine for the service departments of auto dealers and
recruited Sherry—who was feeling restless after a long career
in the mortgage industry—as his partner. The two have been
best friends since 1975, when they locked horns over the presi-
dency of the Phi Kappa Tau pledge class at Cal State Fullerton.
DiCostanzo and Sherry ran the magazine for a while
(they still own it) and then, in 2007, moved on to the next thing:
making customization kits for Toyota trucks. The business
faltered in the wake of the Great Recession, and the two turned
their attention to DiCostanzo’s “hobby” business: electric bikes.
Almost all of DiCostanzo’s customers were Boomers
or older, many returning to two wheels for the frst time in
decades. The spirit was willing, the fesh, perhaps, not so
much. Electric bikes acted as psychic training wheels. “A lot
• GEARING UP
Terry Sherry, Pedego co-founder, had already had a
long career when he and DiCostanzo decided to start
launching companies together.