Entrepreneurship: The Cycle Effect | Leeds School of Business

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A group of cyclists taking a break.  The team leader is pointing the camera to the left.

Brett Donelson leads a group of cyclists on the ride. The rural entrepreneurship chain helped give him the confidence to establish and grow now The Cycle Effect, which Donelson launched with his wife in 2013.

Civil rights activist Susan B. Anthony said in 1896, “The bicycle has done more for women than anything else in the world—it gave her a sense of self-reliance and independence as she took her seat.”

Even today, women ride bikes for the physical and psychological benefits that can sometimes be life-changing. But not as much as one would think.

A woman jumped on her mountain bike.Brett Donelson and his wife see every day an opportunity to change that. Inspired to help young women, she launched The Cycle Effect in 2013, an Eagle County nonprofit that inspires disadvantaged girls to develop self-esteem and healthy lifestyles through biking .

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“We had no business experience, but continued to say ‘yes’ to opportunities instead of focusing on the 99 ‘no’s we got,” Donelson said.

The program gives girls a break from the stress of bikes, training and high school. When they learn to ride and compete as a team, they not only improve their overall health, but they learn to work together and overcome obstacles.

None of them start with any prior mountain biking experience—but they all get passionate about it. “We’re not super-focused on competition. We’re a bike team, but really have a mentorship program that uses bikes as a tool,” he said. “I’ve never been part of a sport where you learn so many lessons that are metaphorical for life,” such as the struggle to climb a hill, the freedom to let go, and the confidence to move forward without fear.

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Many of those lessons apply to him as he builds his nonprofit. A few years after its launch, he attended two Demystifying Entrepreneurship workshops in Vail.

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“Being an entrepreneur is very lonely, because it feels like you’re making decisions with the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

Brett Donelson, Founder, The Cycle Effect

“The workshops reassured me that I was not completely lost. I could ask questions and realize that I am not crazy,” he said.

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“The best things I found were confidence and networking; How valuable it was to sit in a room with like-minded people. I thought about partners—I wasn’t alone.”

These days, he’s focused on developing outreach programs and expanding to new locations in Colorado. Ten years from now, he aims to work with thousands of children.

“I love what I’m doing. I love learning how to start things—and now that I’ve done it once, the second and third time will be a lot easier,” he said.

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