Our Loyverse POS colleague headed over to the beautiful city of Antwerp to hear the story of two young cyclist first time entrepreneurs using Loyverse free Point of Sale for Bike Shops. Listen to the full podcast, or read the text interview below!
Hello, Nicholas. So the first question is what is your business and why did you start your business?
Your business’ name is cyclant?
Yes, sick-lant... cyclant... however you want to pronounce it.
So how did you start this business?
We started off as a bike tour service about 3 years ago and we started doing bike tours because both me and Jonas, my business partner, we studied history and we liked travelling a lot as well. I had spent about one year abroad, living in Berlin, working as a bike touring guide- I realised that that was the best job I ever had. I did some teaching but also decided that it was time to do something on my own, well, together with Jonas.
Okay, so you started this business by yourself with your partner?
Yes, we started by ourselves. And about one year ago, as in the previous summer, we started to do bike rentals as well. We both wanted to make this our sole profession. So only doing bike business, but it wasn’t enough to do just bike tours. We realised we had about 40 bikes that were never used so we decided to do a bike rental business. First in the Popper, in the Antwerp tower, and from mid-September we started renting this place in the Central station.
Yeah, you find a very nice location.
Yes, we are very lucky with that.
In the center of antwerp, right?
In the center of Antwerp. It’s really good for us because a lot of our customers are dutch people. And a lot of the Dutch they’ve come to Antwerp using the train and so they just get off the train here, stay for one day, maybe two and immediately find our business, then they take the bikes.
Okay, what challenges have you experienced as a small business owner? What advice can you give to others?
I think everybody has the same issue. You invest whatever money you can invest in your business, but unless you have a big financial backup from investors or something else, which we don’t really have- we just did it with our own money and everything we’ve earned we put back in our business... it’s still a limited amount of money. So the biggest challenge is constantly considering what money to use to what end. You’re not always certain what the returned investment will be. Jonas and me are historians, so we have no economic background.
It’s your first time starting a business!
It’s my first time starting a business. Luckily I’ve got parents who have already a business, about 30 years old. It’s also a small business, so I go to them for help, but still it’s not the same sector... they sell food and stuff, so it’s not really bike related. I think that usually the biggest issue is trying to find out what money to use at what moment, and sometimes taking the risk to use it a bit more long term. But you can’t always afford to do something long term because you need the money back now. I think that’s the main issue. When I started this business, I said I used to work in Berlin in the same sector as I do now, I asked my former boss for some pointers when I started. He said something that I always have sort of ignored, because it comes back to the money thing. He said spend as little as possible time fixing bikes, and as much time as possible into marketing. And I absolutely hate doing marketing, I usually forget to do that. But I’m afraid he’s right. So that’s the issue, you need to do it, you need to spend the money, but you can’t always do it... maybe you can, but you’re sort of afraid to do so haha.
And how’s your business now? Is it going alright?
It’s going well, we survived the winter, which is the most important thing. We see that the weather is picking up . People are booking their trips to Antwerp. Obviously it hasn’t been too easy with what happened last year with the attacks on the airport. That hit the tourist business quite hard. But it’s picking up, people are having faith again in Belgium. It should be fine. We’re ready for an amazing spring and summer!
I hope so! How do you manage relationships with competitors? If you have any in the region...
We have a couple of competitors. Most of them are bike tour businesses, there is one renting bike business as well, but it is sort of co-owned by the city. We just try to be friends with them, if possible. We have different markets, so that’s quite ok.
You’re well spread in the city, right?
We’re all spread. There are two others in the center: the ‘Grote markt’ which is pretty much down here, which is fine because of the bike rentals as well.
We see each other on various occasions throughout the year, because the tourist sector of Antwerp sticks together quite well, and we just try to help each other out, if possible. If we can’t offer a tour, because we have a limited amount of guides, we try to push them towards our competitors if possible.
I see, you have a good relationship with them.
We’ve got a good relationship. The way we see it is that the more people we get on bikes in Antwerp the better for the whole business of bikes in Antwerp, whether it is with our competitors or with us. Obviously it’s better if they come to us from a business perspective. But also if you look at like modern day marketing, at trip advisor, a lot of things are improved these days. When you look something up on trip advisor you get group rating of bike tours in Antwerp for instance. The better the others do, the better for the whole bike tour segment. People actually do bike tours and not just go to the zoo, just go to the museums. So we need to cooperate.
It’s an advantage for your business as well if they are also doing well.
If they got good reviews, and plenty of reviews, it is good for us as well.
Now about the application Loyverse. How has it been able to help you and why did you pick it?
We picked it because we were looking for a point of sale system without having to spend a lot of money on development. Everybody looking into these kind of things probably hasn’t realized you can develop something or have an app developed, but again that cost a lot of money. And also we wanted it to be possible to use on the tablet and not on apple. So again that limits your options. It mainly helps us to deal with every sale we do. It also really helps that we can tool reports quite easily and can get a good view of what we’ve achieved every day or week or month... That’s very useful for us.
Did you hear some comments of clients, who use as well?
No, we just did online research.
Would you recommend other businesses to use this app?
I think I would to businesses similar to ours. I will definitely do so. Because, like bike tours and bike rentals are very small industry when it comes to these kind of point of sales, unlike retail where you have a lot of different products to sell.
Last question. How will Loyverse help you with your future business growth?
Haven’t really thought about that. haha, I don’t know.
You’ll still keep on using it?
We are still using it, and for the future we still will. Also because we need to keep track of our sales in some way for our accounts. In that respect it’s really useful, because we’re not extremely well in keeping up with our accounts. Especially I really suck doing my accounts and these kind of systems just makes it easier.
It provides me with the paperwork to give to my accountant. That’s why I will keep on using it as well.
How long have you been using it?
Ever since we moved to this shop last October.
Thank you very much for this interview.
Thank you for coming at work!
I hope your business will keep on doing well and that you’ll have fun doing your job!