Bikenbike interview, the social marketplace for cycling tourism

Cycling tourism market is recording an high pace of growth at European level, registering encouraging performances. In the European Union Countries, it has generated a 44 billion euros turnover. In this scenario, the digital supply is developing fastly, proving to be fundamental to face a crowded competitive market.

In this context, Bikenbike developed a social marketplace platform which allows its users to join a network of cyclists and bike professionals, linking cycling demand and supply.

Twissen interviewed Matilde Atorino, Founder of Bikenbike.

Twissen: How was the idea of Bikenbike born and which is the timing for the fulfillment of the project?

Atorino: Bikenbike was born from a personal necessity of being a cyclist: finding company for my bike excursions in a easy and direct way, without having to look on blogs or Facebook. The project was born at the end of 2015, and it has been modified and developed. After a period of collecting feedback, thanks to our participation to trade shows such as Eurobike in Germany and Cosmobike in Italy, in October we started developing our platform, which will be online by March.

Tw: Which business model did you consider? Did you get inspiration from existing ones?

A: Bikenbike’s business model is not a brand new one. In the tourism and sport market there are already some trading platforms of goods and services, such as Sailsquare and Sharewood. From this point of view, we fit into an efficient business model, where the platform is a meeting point between demand and supply, but also an online community to share a passion. Bikenbike is going to link users which are looking for a travel or an excursion by bike with the people which offer the travel itself. These last can be operators of the sector (tour operators, associations, cycling guides), which are named Bike Ambassadors Pro, or private subjects, called Bike Ambassadors, which are longing to find new friends to share an experience by bike, for free or through a symbolic participation fee. It will be possible to provide the Bike Ambassador a payment for the idea that he/she planned and shared. Bikenbike, in its startup phase, is going to retain a fee on the Bike Amb Pro travel sales. Only in a second phase, we are planning to apply a fee also on private Bike Ambassadors sales.

Tw: Which are the values of Bikenbike?

A: Bikenbike aims to promote the idea that travelling, or simply visiting a city and its surroundings by bike, can be good for everyone. We also want to promote cycling paths outside the most famous tourism itineraries, and to promote the players which are active in certain areas. In this sense, Bikenbike is glocal: it aims to promote local realities but in a global dimension.

Tw: As you said before, Bikenbike also relies on the locals, which can become Bike Ambassadors. How important is knowing the territory?

A: It is fundamental. We operate in a “from farm to fork” viewpoint: we are interested in people which are active in a certain area or city, and which are able to promote the local treasures, both cultural and natural. In this sense, Bike Ambassadors will be able to organise tours with different focuses, for example wine and food or artistic itineraries. We believe that this perspective fits perfectly in the cycling tourism context, which is a way of travelling that is about a lot of details along the paths. Above all, it is about meeting people.

Tw: Which is your target? Local, Italian or international?

A: We welcome users of every nation, we have already a few foreign Abassador Pro. However, during the first year of activity, we planned to focus our advertising and web marketing activities mainly on the Italian market.

Tw: How important is technology in your sector and, in particular, for your company?

A: The cycling tourism world is certainly growing in attention and in technology. In our case, creating a community and connecting cycling tourists in every part of the world makes technology fundamental. But we are also happy of developing a project which aims to promote human relationships and a eco-friendly activity.

Tw: Are you planning to develop a mobile app?

A: Yes, without a doubt it is an important evolution of our supply that will help Bikenbike in growing in visibility, and that will make the user experience more direct and easier.

Tw: How is the presence in social networks influencing the startup of your activity?

A: Social media marketing is essential to our company. Bicycles and cycling tourism are particularly attractive on social networks, both in terms of visibility and contents. In this sense, we hope to make young people get closer to cycling tourism. For example, we would like to see a young Italian boy or girl celebrate his/her graduation with a bike travel in a foreign country with a local peer.

Tw: Which payment methods do you provide on your platform?

A: It will be possible to pay for the Bike Amb Pro tours by Paypal. Payments between private users will initially be made outside the platform.

Tw: Did you receive any funding round for your startup?

A: Not by now, but we are looking for funding to cover the development our first year of activity. We are also looking for an appropriate sponsor: we have already received some proposals, but we are taking our time to evaluate them. By now, we are planning our participation to the Start-Up Innovation Camp 2017 which will take place in the World Tourism Forum in Luzern in May.

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