Entrepreneurial Student Finds Inspiration Abroad
After a summer spent studying in China,University of Wisconsin—Madisonundergraduate Ben Nyquist came back toMadison with more than just a suitcase full of souvenirs: he had an idea for a business.Thanks to a student exchange between UW—Madison and Nankai University, Nyquist spentthree months in Tianjin, China where heearned a full year’s worth of language creditsin a single summer. A sophomore at the time,he had no knowledge of Chinese — orinternational business. But, with an ear forforeign languages and an eye for opportunity,he’s merged both subjects into anentrepreneurial plan for life after graduation.Today, as a twenty-two-year-old senior finishing up three bachelor’s degrees — in political science,Spanish, and Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS) — Nyquist is poised to launchhis first company, EnergE-Bikes, in Madison.Nyquist saw his first electric bicycle in Tianjin, a crowded metropolis located southeast of Beijing,on the Bohai Gulf. All over the city, sturdy two-wheelers hummed along the streets, powered by amotor and a tiny battery tucked underneath the seat.“You’ve got nine million people living on top of one another, so no one owns a car,” remembersNyquist.And while the riders weren’t Midwesterners, thewhole scene couldn’t help but make him think of home.“In Madison, everyone bikes. Everyone has amoped. I thought, ‘How great would it be to bringthis to campus?’”And so that’s what he’s doing. Nyquist and his closefriend Spencer Morrison, a triple major in Chinese,International Business, and Management and HumanResources, whom Nyquist met in the Tanjianprogram, have just completed negotiations toimport 60 e-bikes into Wisconsin from China.