https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOYMVRhl1aQ Two brothers at Iowa State have combined their interest in mechanical engineering and their passion for cycling with a start-up business. Jared Trent, 21, and Brady Trent, 19, have owned and operated Trent Bicycles since August. Their business, operated out of a garage on Ames’s southeast side, offers bicycle repairs as well as preowned bikes.
“The idea for Trent Bicycles came from wanting to bring in more income to help pay for college expenses,” said Jared.” “Immediately thinking about my hobbies and skills led to noticing an open market on Iowa State’s campus for a professional bike shop available to students that was more affordable and accessible than current alternatives.” Both said Jared and Trent were influenced by their father, Dustin, who is also a mechanical engineer and a businessman. “I chose [to study] mechanical engineering because my dad’s a mechanical engineer. Jared’s a mechanical engineer. So it’s kind of fitting that I would go to one of the best mechanical engineering schools honestly in the nation so that was a good fit for me,” said Brady. “Really it just teaches you how to solve problems and that’s why I chose it.” Jared said he remembers his interest in engineering started when he was a kid. “Engineering had my interest when wanting to take everything apart and occasionally put them back together,” said Jared with a grin. “I started with moped engines and bicycles and have continued to expand my interest at Iowa State. This school was the best choice when deciding which discipline of engineering to pursue.” Each brother brings his own skills outside of engineering to the business. Jared, who is minoring in English, handles the company’s communications and community outreach while Brady, a General Business minor, focuses on the finances, accounting, and other business aspects. Brady also handles some communications duties such as designing the website and managing the social media pages. Jared said he has been to take skills and principles learned in the classroom and apply them to the business.
“From the English department, learning communication skills became even more valuable when it directly relates to people I work with,” said Jared. “From engineering, critical thinking and problem solving applications are always coming up. For example, keeping track of the business’ finances accurately became easy after taking IE 305 [Engineering Economic Analysis]. The class taught me how to analyze and predict investments and compare projects. The knowledge continually yields better business decisions that puts me in a better position.” Jared has completed internships with Summit Products in Altoona and Creative Werks in Des Moines. He currently teaches and grades for Engineering Graphics and Introductory Design (ME 170) and Manufacturing Engineering (ME 324). He plans to graduate in fall 2017. Brady, who plans to graduate in spring 2019, said his coursework in the college of business has helped him to learn some of the lingo as well as the more intricate aspects of running a business. “Having any sort of understanding about accounting and financing will be a powerful combination with ME,” said Brady. “A specific skill I like to focus on with anything is being able to talk the talk. People take you much more seriously if you can prove that you understand. This is true with any learning.” The Trent brothers also offer advice for both young students as well as aspiring entrepreneurs. Jared advised young students to weigh both their skills and their interests when selecting a major. “For someone considering engineering as a major, it is important to take note of what it offers. The networking, open doors, and starting pay are all important aspects to look at, however it is more important to have a passion for what you are doing. Engineering offers so many areas to go into that it can actually be difficult to decide which one to pick. For me personally, manufacturing has been the most fun.” The younger Trent offered similar advice from more of a business perspective. “For a young person, for anyone really, I’d just say go out and do something. That’s really the biggest piece. You can’t hold yourself back. If you do some competitive analysis, you’re like there’s ten people that already do this well just find a new to do it, find a different way, and you’re going to be successful. That’s really about it.”
Photos by Nick Fetty