Electra was founded in 1993 by Benno Bänziger. A Swiss national, Bänziger grew up in the Swiss Embassy in West Berlin interested in California and action sports. As a teenager, he began designing and manufacturing snowboards in Germany, later moving to California after graduating with a degree in graphic design. He founded Projekt Design in 1990, working for companies including K2 and Adidas. Bänziger considered manufacturing snowboards or skateboards, but felt those markets were crowded with competitors and seemed a poor bet for a beginning manufacturer. He turned his attention to bicycles.
Founding The Company
The new Electra cruisers were manufactured by a Taiwanese contractor and the two partners began trying to sell them to bike shops. At first, "Dealers laughed at us," says Bänziger. "But people realized they didn't need a mountain bike to go to the grocery store." However, when bike shops tried stocking the Electras, they began to sell, and word-of-mouth convinced more dealers to sign on. In fact, the fledgling company's cruiser sales were so strong that larger firms were spurred to start offering their own cruiser models. Today, Electras are available in bike shops throughout Europe, the USA, Japan, and Australia.