By Drew Deubner,
The Maneater, February 27, 2007.
MU senior uses his bike to aid Columbia businesses.
The messenger bag, with origins going as far back as the
Pony Express, is designed to be the simplest possible means of carrying
papers while keeping your hands free. As the name implies, bicycle
messengers in the 1980s and 90s popularized the bags.
Although there is no shortage of messenger bags among MU
students, there were no messengers on bikes until senior Brady Beckham and
his crew came into the picture.
Beckham founded Columbia Couriers, a bicycle messenger
service, with junior Jason Key and graduate Steve Tinsley.
A common idea of a bicycle messenger's appearance is
similar to Beckham’s: slim but muscular in his cycling shirt, with a
slightly unkempt beard. But Beckham donned Dickies instead of the spandex
worn by most of his trade.
“I wear the Dickies because they don’t get
holes,” he said.
Beckham said he can survive in school while managing a
business because his idea is well structured.
“We won a business idea competition, the New
Venture Idea Competition, with the idea for Columbia Couriers,”
Beckham said. “The idea was the best in the Undergraduate For-Profit
With a degree nearly in his grasp, Beckham has a
distinct plan for the future.
In some major cities, like San
Francisco or New York,
bicycle messengers are used commonly for their point-to-point delivery of
important papers, artwork or sensitive documents — services that
companies like UPS or Fed Ex cannot offer.
Columbia Couriers can pick up flowers, food and pretty
much anything else that can fit in their bag. They are even willing to wait
in line at the post office for clients.
“We don’t just have one function,”
Beckham said. “People in big cities realize that we’re fast.
They don’t care what we look like as long as we get things from Point
A to Point B. People don’t realize that bikes are just as functional
as cars in big cities.”
The weather doesn’t faze Beckham, either.
“The snow and ice are fine as long as you bundle
up,” he said confidently. “I try and stay off the main roads.
The rain is just awful, much worse than ice and snow.”
His plans for the summer are looking bright as well.
“I think Columbia Couriers is snowballing and will
do so over the summer more once word gets around,” he said.
“We’ve had no negative feedback thus far.”
Beckham wants his business to suit the needs of Columbia.
“We want to stick around town,” he said.
“And we want to match the demand of the city.”
The environment is a priority as well.
“We’re a sustainable business, and
we’re looking forward to working as a delivery service for Main
Squeeze, another sustainable business.”
Karl Kimbel, owner of Klunk Bicycles and Repair, has
gotten a positive impression from Columbia Couriers.
“Sometimes we get too busy here in the shop to go
pick up lunch,” Kimbel said.
When this occurs, Kimbel has hired the couriers to pick
“I’m happy to support a great idea and a
little business like this,” he said.
Beckham glided effortlessly through traffic for a short
bike ride downtown, avoiding potholes and pedestrians.
He stopped at a business on Broadway to pass out flyers
for Columbia Couriers.
“The city is allowed to do business with me as
well as most companies, but some of the large companies can’t because
they have designated carriers,” he said.
Beckham said there could be problems delivering on
“The university is like an 80-headed
monster,” Beckham said. “It’s like a small city, and none
of the schools communicate with each other.”
Beckham and his co-founders either were or are members
of Mizzou Cycling.
“Once we get more business, one of our desires is
to give back to Mizzou Cycling,” Beckham said.
Columbia Couriers also wants to have an altruistic
purpose in the future, starting a not-for-profit company that builds
hand-driven bicycles for disabled children.
“In the New Venture Idea Competition, I also won
the not-for-profit division with my idea for the hand-driven cycles,”
He said he plans to give new life to discarded or excess
bicycles by converting them to hand-driven cycles.
According to Beckham, the conversion between an old
bicycle and a hand-driven one requires not much more than “a welder
with a knowledge of bicycle mechanics.”