Chelsea Petrozzo loves to bike. What she doesn't love? The grossness and uncomfortableness of your typical bike seat. Others, she saw, had the same issues, too, using plastic bags as makeshift covers. Petrozzo's loathing got the design wheels in her brain spinning overtime. Wouldn't it be awesome, she thought, if there were handy, everyday covers people could slip onto the bikes?

And so CitySeat was born. The company, based in New York, New York, produces covers you easily can slip onto your bike seat. Originally, Petrozzo created the covers for CitiBikes in New York. The original covers were simple, non-padded, waterproof affairs. But Petrozzo quickly saw ways to improve. The current covers not only are waterproof, but also include padding, come in a variety of prints and colors and have a removable outer lining you can toss in your laundry for cleaning. Thanks to stretchy Italian material, they can accommodate most personal, commuter and spin bikes, too. As sprinkles on the doughnut, the product fits neatly into an unobtrusive 2x2-inch pouch.

Getting inspiration

Petrozzo says that, as she was getting the company started, she turned to her friends as a focus group.

"We talked a lot about how we were spending too much of our salaries on cute workout clothes to then sit on an uncomfortable, shared, barely cleaned spin bike or CityBike. We were expressing our personal style through the clothes we wore--why not continue that to a bike seat cover?"

A small product with a huge potential reach

Perhaps a bit predictably, Petrozzo says her biggest customers are ladies in their 20s and 30s who, like her, want to add some fashion pizzazz to their ride or workout while staying comfortable and clean. But solving all three of those problems might have a domino effect and contribute to a solution to bigger issues, too. If more people feel confident that they can get on a bike without looking drab, catching something disgusting, ruining clothes or getting sore, the picture of your typical commute could shift dramatically. Petrozzo's product potentially could play a big role in cutting emissions that pollute the environment and contribute to global warming. More people also might choose biking as a way to get fit and improve their health, which in turn could affect everything from business insurance costs to absenteeism losses.

"I know several people who have mentioned to me that they now will ride CitiBikes around New York because they have a CitySeat," Petrozzo says. "Previously, they wouldn't want to ruin their outfit or were hesitant to get on that seat that sits out on the street 365 days a year, but now they'll get out there and ride. I hope to promote alternative transportation and allow people to feel that comfort that I originally felt when creating and testing the product."

Petrozzo adds that partnerships are a big part of her vision for the future of CitySeat.

"We work with a lot of bike rental services across America, including Divvy in Chicago, CoGo bike share in Columbus, OH and Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C. We love working with these companies because they have a shared message with us, which is to get out there and #RideOn. We want people to feel comfortable lowering our carbon footprint by using alternative transportation, all while feeling confident and comfortable."

And if all that's not enough, CitySeat donates a percentage of sales to New York nonprofit Recycle-a-Bicycle.

Catching consumers' eyes

Petrozzo notes that there are some other seat cover options available. Those are usually gel models, such as manufactured by Schwinn and REI Co-Op. They usually come in default black (strike one for fashion) and also aren't waterproof. Subsequently, CitySeat has gained serious attention as an alternative. The covers have been featured on both Good Morning America and The Today Show and in the The Styles section of The New York Times, offered as gifts by Rebecca Minkoff during New York Fashion Week, and highlighted by Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat. But perhaps the biggest accolade of all? Being selected by Oprah Winfrey for her 2015 Favorite Things list.

Looking at CitySeat with more of a quantifying eye, Petrozzo claims that the company has been self-funded since it started, doubling sales from 2014 to 2015 and again from 2015 to 2016. Since CitySeat switched to padded covers in 2015, consumers have snapped up about 3,000 covers a year.

CitySeat is, in many ways, incredibly simple. But the problems it could influence aren't. And while the covers still can evolve and get even better, that combination--the ability to disrupt in a range of areas with a single, uncomplicated product--is innovation at its best.