In May 2018, the Town of Boone welcomed an innovative new business, designed to promote sustainable transportation, local nightlife and safety all in one. Appalachian State University alumni Christian Houpe ’18 and Caleb McGuire ’18, opened PubCycle of Boone with $2,000 in seed money Houpe received by winning the Walker College of Business Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship’s Big Idea Pitch competition during his senior year.
According to Houpe, he was inspired to start the venture after spending a weekend in Raleigh where he met friends for a pubcycle ride.
“The experience was a blast, hopping from bar to bike to bar,” he shared. “Returning to Boone, I wished there was a similar experience.”
The concept of a pubcycle is simple. While the vehicle is battery-powered, riders pedal to give the cycle an extra kick of energy while a certified pubcycle driver steers and brakes.
With Houpe’s funding from the competition, they bought a used trolley pub, stripped it down and made several modifications to get it road-ready. Houpe, who obtained his degree from the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, had the technical skills to replace the lead acid batteries with lithium ion and redo the electrical system. They also got creative with their limited budget.
“We wanted the pubcycle to invoke a Model-T vibe, and the quote for a custom front end was out of our budget,” said McGuire, who is a graduate of Appalachian's Business Management program. “So, we ended up purchasing a cow trough from Tractor Supply and cutting it in half to act as the front end of the trolley.”
The business is currently on hiatus through the cold winter months, but will open for the year March 1. Houpe and McGuire are both working full-time jobs as well – Houpe designing greenhouses and McGuire designing websites and taking real estate photos – but they have high hopes for PubCycle of Boone in 2019.
“Our goal is to help boost the local economy in a creative and sustainable way by sharing our favorite establishments with visitors and residents alike,” said McGuire. “We would like to continue engaging with community and expanding our reach by hiring individuals who want to give back as much as we do.”
For more information, visit pubcycleboone.com.
By Patrick Young and Meghan McCandless
About the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University features an integrated array of programs spanning the fields of sustainable design and technology. Its mission is to foster a strong and vibrant culture of inquiry, discovery and innovation that integrates theory with application, problem seeking with problem-solving, local issues with global perspectives and technological progress with environmental stewardship. It offers bachelor’s degrees in sustainable technology and building science, and a master’s degree in technology.
About the Walker College of Business
The Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University delivers transformational educational experiences that prepare and inspire students to be ethical, innovative and engaged business leaders who positively impact our community, both locally and globally. The college places emphasis on international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. Enrolling approximately 2,800 undergraduates in 10 majors and nearly 175 graduate students, the Walker College is accredited by AACSB International – the premier global accrediting body for schools of business.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.