What started as a study assignment quickly became a great success. BikeFlip was born – a sustainable bicycle subscription on a (children’s) bicycle. BikeFlip provides refurbished second-hand bicycles with a sustainable and circular future in mind. When the bike becomes too small, you can exchange it for a larger one. Founder Casparis Beyer tells us more about his great initiative.
What inspired you to start BikeFlip?
BikeFlip started as a study assignment within the master Sustainable Business and Innovation. For a course we had to start a fictitious start-up. What struck us was the great success of Swapfiets, but we thought two things: ‘Couldn’t that be more sustainable?’ and ‘Why does this not yet exist for children?’. After all, children grow, not bicycles. This is how the idea of BikeFlip arose: a subscription to a sustainable children’s bicycle. After pitching to a jury of experts (including incubator UtrechtInc), we were advised to really start with it. Normally, however, as a student within the program you are trained as a consultant.
For my Master’s thesis I investigated the role of start-up ecosystems within the sustainability transition. Research shows that entrepreneurs are a very important building block of the sustainability transition. Start-ups and scale-ups are an important driver and driver of sustainable innovation and creativity. So, partly with the insights of my thesis, I made the decision to give BikeFlip a serious chance after completing the study instead of choosing the ‘safe’ path as a consultant. It is so important that graduates find their way to the start-up world, especially when it comes to sustainability. Talent is an important bottleneck within start-up ecosystems.
In what way does BikeFlip make a difference?
Children grow, bicycles don’t. Almost nothing is as temporary as a children’s bicycle; every year and a half to two years a new bicycle has to be bought, and the bicycle that is too small is just standing there. Quite inconvenient actually and also bad for the environment, all those unused road-dusting bicycles. That is why we at BikeFlip have a simple, but innovative concept: a sustainable subscription to a (children’s) bicycle. It works as follows: you choose a bicycle on our website. We bring it to your house with the cargo bike, and when it breaks down, we come to repair it at the door. When the bike has become too small, you choose a new one on the website, and we exchange it for the old bike, which can then be used by another child. This is how we combine circularity with Mobility-as-a-Service!
What is BikeFlips mission?
In the Netherlands alone, millions of bicycles are dusted away in sheds and municipal depots. We believe in a sustainable and circular future, which is why BikeFlip only offers well-refurbished second-hand bicycles, so that bicycles are not unnecessarily thrown away or produced. In this way, a new life is offered to forgotten second-hand (children’s) bicycles from the bicycle depot, children are happy with a beautiful, refurbished and suitable bicycle, parents are relieved and BikeFlip contributes to a sustainable and circular (bicycle) economy. After all, every bicycle not produced produces a CO2 reduction of 31.45 kg (Chen et al., 2020). For us – four great ways to help out :)!
What are you most proud of so far?
That we can also offer BikeFlip as a solution for social organizations and municipalities that want to encourage bicycle use among population groups that cycle less (due to poverty or cultural differences), in neighborhoods where the percentage of cyclists is (too) low (such as Utrecht Overvecht). Examples of current projects that we do this for are with the Fietsmeesters and with Stichting Leergeld Utrecht. For example, we were able to promote the integration of several new Dutch people by offering them a circular bicycle! So we are constantly looking to make a social and circular impact with our sustainable company. That feels good!