A BICYCLE WITH A PURPOSE
Having a great idea and making it work are two different things. That’s why start-ups like us need advice and support from people who’ve been there and done that.
The idea for Vélosophy came out of the blue, as all the best ideas do. I’ve grown up with a love of bikes, and I’ve been privileged to own one – or several – my whole life. One day I read an article about the difference that a bicycle can make to girls in developing countries and suddenly the power of two wheels took on a whole new meaning. I decided to use my love of bicycles to do some good.
The concept is simple: we make stylish city bicycles and for each one we sell, we give another to a schoolgirl in a developing country. Vélosophy is all about “do-goodability” and it made sense to us right from the start to make our bikes from recycled aluminium. Wherever possible we make the girls’ bicycles from sustainable materials, such as locally-grown bamboo.
INNOVATING FOR THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
When I was invited to take part in #Innov4CE, I leapt at the chance. It was an event hosted by Nespresso at the European Parliament, showcasing the best examples of circular economy innovation in a Dragon’s Den contest of Europe’s greenest start-ups. Not only was it an opportunity to showcase Vélosophy to some of Europe’s decision-makers, I got to spend the day with five incredible entrepreneurs who are challenging the business world with their circular thinking.
Vélosophy’s recycled aluminium city bikes and our smart use of bamboo to get girls to the classroom won over the Brussels audience by a nail-bitingly close vote. Our prize? Mentoring from Nespresso.
MENTORING MAKES SENSE
We spent three days with experts from all corners of Nespresso’s business to get their take on how Vélosophy can grow from start-up to game-changer. From the e-commerce team who explained what consumers want when they click ‘buy now’, to the social media gurus who coached us on how to heighten our hashtag game, and everything in-between.
We learned how to hone our vision, and then how to translate this into a strategy for the business. We came away with heads full of ideas and pages full of notes. After a few days, I began to clearly see the steps we needed to take; this week, next year, and over the next decade.
The mentoring didn’t stop when we got back to Stockholm; our Nespresso coaches are only a phone call away and have been on-hand for more advice as we’ve taken some tentative, scary steps over the past few months.
INSPIRED BY COMMON VALUES
There are some prizes that money can’t buy. Inspiration from some of the best minds in their field. A genuine concern in our challenges and possibilities. A network of experts that we can call on for help when we need it.
Nothing inspires me more than speaking to other people in business, especially those companies with a purpose that goes beyond simply making a short-term profit. Nespresso’s model is about creating shared value; by seeking out only the highest-quality, sustainably-grown coffee they are not only bringing consumers a unique premium product, they’re helping to create value for farming communities.
Nespresso also began as a start-up, and I was amazed to discover that it took 10 years from its launch before it ever made a profit. I could see a lot of parallels between Nespresso and Vélosophy; now we have a template for building a brand that also builds value for others. It’s given me the confidence to know that we can succeed.
It’s hard to say exactly how much Vélosophy has benefitted from Nespresso’s mentoring, but it’s like having a new set of tyres on your bike. Whether we ride harder, or faster, or for longer – that’s up to us. But I know now that we’re riding in the right direction.
Find out more about how vélosophy gets people moving forward in style.
The relationship between Nespresso and Vélosophy has now led to the introduction of RE:CYCLE – a beautiful new bike made from Nespresso capsules.