30 September 2019

BikeFlip: Students develop innovative circular platform for reusing children’s bikes

Nowhere in the world do you find as many children riding bikes as you do in the Netherlands. But children grow fast and need a new bicycle every two years. So what happens to the old one? Do you sell it, pass it on to the neighbours, or just throw it out? Utrecht University Master students Casparis Beyer, Doora Millenaar, Gwen Aartsma, Karlien de Boer and Sacha van Wetten came up with a solution: BikeFlip.

Casparis Beyer, Doora Millenaar, Gwen Aartsma, Karlien de Boer and Sacha van Wetten with a balance bike. Photo: Anko Stoffels

The five students met during the course Corporate Sustainability Implementation which is part of the MSc Sustainable Business & Innovation, run by researchers from the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development. In this course students must come up with an idea for a sustainable business.

Around their homes the students saw many cycling children, but also noticed numerous discarded children's bicycles on the streets

Around their homes the students saw many cycling children, but also noticed numerous discarded children's bicycles on the streets. But what to do about it? Learning about the importance of circular economy, they came up with BikeFlip: the exchange of second-hand children's bicycles for a monthly subscription. After pitching the idea at the end of the course, the five were approached by jury member Stefan Braam, a start-up facilitator at UtrechtInc. He was so impressed by the idea that he encouraged them to turn it into a business.

How does it work?

Customers registers via BikeFlip’s website, where they indicate the child’s wishes and height. BikeFlip then offers various bicycles for the customer to choose from. The customer can select three, which are then sustainably transported to the customer by cargo bike. The child can test the three bikes and chooses the one he or she likes best. If the bike needs fixing it gets picked up for repair and the child is given another bike until the broken one is fixed. When the child outgrows the bicycle, the customer chooses a new one and returns the old one, so that BikeFlip can deliver it to another customer. The monthly subscription costs 12.50.

We are now in contact with sheltered workshops that restore and repair abandoned bikes. But the most important thing now is to get customers!
Sacha van Wetten
Student MSc Sustainable Business & Innovation

A circular bike economy

Each year hundreds of children's bicycles are picked up from the streets and end up each in bicycle depots in Amsterdam. Only a very small number is picked up again by customers, leaving behind numerous ones that can be refurbished and reused. BikeFlip buys these bicycles and fully restores them with working lights and a bicycle bell. This way, BikeFlip prevents unnecessary waste and new bicycle production. The students also wish to contribute to society in other ways. ‘We are now in contact with sheltered workshops that restore and repair abandoned bikes.’ says Sacha van Wetten, who is in charge of purchasing. ‘But the most important thing now is to get customers!’

Get involved

If you would like to learn more about BikeFlip, please contact the company via contact@bikeflip.nl, or check out their website www.bikeflip.nl