Jen Cohen Bogan is the founder of Bluejay Electric Bicycles, the sustainable and fashionable E-Bike. A graduate of UCLA and Harvard Business School, Jen has a background in the fashion and beauty industry, working for fast-paced companies such as Gilt Groupe and Kendo Brands, helping them achieve explosive growth. Following the births of her two children, she completely transformed her work direction and career, and now makes the chicest E-bikes on the market with a large celebrity following, counting Kourtney Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, Melissa McCarthy and more as fans. She used her customer-centric lens to design an E-bike that didn’t yet exist: beautiful, powerful, and easy to maintain.
Tell us about your first experience with entrepreneurship?
Jen Cohen Bogan: When I was in Third grade, I had a pretty good business selling handmade paper baskets. I would offer two paper baskets and a piece of gum for 25 cents. I was slightly suspicious that my classmates just wanted the gum, but it did teach me the value of a good promotion at a young age!
What did the early days of your business look like and teach you?
JCB: The first time I rode an e-bike, it was magical. I discovered a product that could truly change a person’s lifestyle, and one that was sure to be in high demand given our ever growing need to find more sustainable ways to navigate and move around our cities and towns. I spent the early days of my business traveling to Europe and Asia gathering information, developing partners, and learning everything I could about the bike industry, and electric bike technology. I discovered that unlike many other countries where the market had taken off, in the US, e-bikes were mainly being marketed to a niche community of cyclists, many of whom considered it “cheating.” Companies were not speaking to the broader audience for which the product was perfect for — families. Being self-funded, I took a “lean startup” approach, starting with one product, The Premiere Edition Bluejay E-bike, and testing and refining it with input from my friends, family and local community.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
JCB: I think that because I was an industry outsider, I didn’t always have the confidence in my own instincts. A few times I listened to industry “experts” when I should have trusted my gut. I have now realized my “outsider” approach is exactly what this industry needs.
What does “success” look like for you? We’d love to hear your biggest, boldest dream? What do you think will help you achieve it?
JCB: If I could bottle the smile that people have the first time they ride a Bluejay e-bike, I would. To see people enjoying something that I created is fulfilling, and to hear someone call it “life changing” is extraordinary.
I’d like to see even more people get out of their cars and onto e-bikes. Pedaling produces endorphins and creates a feeling of connectivity to the moment and the nature around you. Success would be to continue spreading this joy. My biggest boldest dream would be to make it a movement! Let’s get more people to try it, fall in love and spread the word.
What is your superpower as an entrepreneur? What is your proudest and darkest moment so far? Share a key high and a key low from your journey if you can.
JCB: My superpower is making connections between ideas. With Bluejay Electric Bicycles, I envisioned how a lifestyle brand approach could be applied to a new category, bringing an amazing invention to a whole new audience. My proudest moment was when my kids rode our new children’s bike prototype for the first time, and they could finally feel for themselves what makes Bluejay so special. The darkest moments have been having to part ways with people that aren’t working out for the team. I always want to look for the best in people.
What are your personal driving principles, your top values?
JCB: Setting and achieving goals, finding balance, spending time with family and loved ones, being a self-starter and problem solver, making things happen, being a creator, being a mother, continual learning and growth, love.
How have your personal principles and values shaped your company’s values and principles?
JCB: I had always worked in fast-paced environments that were high on excitement but low on work-life balance. It was important to me, especially as a working mother, that the culture at Bluejay would not only attract top talent, but also provide them with the flexibility to juggle family and other priorities. I am proud of the way we have created a high-performing team across multiple geographies with a mix of in-person and remote work.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners?
JCB: I do think entrepreneurship can be a lonely road, especially in the beginning. It has been great to grow the Bluejay business over the past few years to a point where I now have this talented team with a sense of purpose and camaraderie.
Do you have a mentor? Tell us about what makes them valuable to you and your business?
What role does mentorship play in your world (as a mentor or mentee)
JSB: I have a few mentors: Julie Bornstein, whom I worked with at Sephora, and Helen Russell, co-founder of Equator coffees. Both are amazing women, connectors and entrepreneurs with unbelievable energy who have offered me incredible advice and have been early supporters of Bluejay.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day?
JCB: A friend gave me a handmade book of quotes, one for each day of the year. I find waking up and reading them a great way to ground my intention for the day. I help my kids, Charlotte (10) and Adrian (8), get ready for school, which is always hectic until the moment we get on our Bluejays and ride down. After drop-off, I love to have a moment to myself to sip coffee on the front porch and clear out my inbox or take calls. Mid-morning, I usually try to squeeze in a walk or workout with friends before heading into our warehouse office. I have two new puppies which keep me pretty busy right now. They are rascals, but so cute.
What are you reading or have read?
JCB: The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer is the book I’ve found most enlightening, and I read it shortly before deciding to take the plunge and start Bluejay. I was reading Nike creator Phil Knight’s memoir, Shoe Dog, in my early days of travel to Taiwan and I found it completely relatable and motivating. I also have an addiction to the New York Post app.
Where do you go for inspiration?
JCB: Traveling is the ultimate inspiration. I went to Sweden and Norway for the first time this past summer and am absolutely obsessed with Nordic culture and design. There is a thoughtfulness to everything they do.
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or words of wisdom to get through the tough days?
JCB: ‘Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale” – Hans Christian Andersen
What is a problem that keeps you up at night?
JCB: It’s usually delays with production, as I often get texts from overseas in the middle of the night!
How do you think about helping others through your work?
JCB: Seeing how Bluejay Electric Bicycles has truly changed some people’s lives is the ultimate for me. My gym instructor was able to sell one of her cars because she now only rides her Bluejay. Another one of my clients had back surgery and is recovering by riding her Bluejay. I have customers in their 70s who have told me they have extended their riding by decades. My daughter is now able to get herself to school and soccer practice, which is game changing for me. I can’t wait to share this awesomeness with other parents when we launch the kids bike this fall.
What advice do you have for fellow (and aspiring) entrepreneurs building and leading teams?
JCB: Believe in your gut, focus your efforts, take a test-and-learn approach. Be flexible, and always looking out for change. Treat people well.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as – as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
JCB: A creator of something unique and special who made a positive impact on others’ lives…and had fun!!
Do you have someone you’d like to nominate to be profiled in our Faces of Entrepreneurship series? Please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your nomination using this form.
Invite a FriendClose