We talked to Jan Pecník of BikeFair about the marketplace with legal bikes only and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jan Pecník: In a way, quite well, actually. My spouse’s and my families are relatively small, but we are fortunate enough to haven’t had a single case of Covid among us so far. On the other hand, living as expats is a bit more difficult, we’re used to traveling to visit the family, which isn’t possible at the moment. So just like everyone else, we’re very much looking forward to the end of this weird period in history.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded BikeFair.
Jan Pecník: Career stories are boring. Let me tell you about the inception of BikeFair, instead. I come from a very outdoorsy family, and since I was 3 years old, we always went for a biking holiday in the summer. I learned to fix my own bike, won some amateur races, but mainly had fun around bikes. Coming to the Netherlands to study for my masters, I was incredibly looking forward to the “world of bikes.” To my surprise, while the infrastructure and bike ownership & usage rates are incredible, the services around bikes were a bit of a disappointment. It took me a lot of time to find my first bike here, which I, in the end, accomplished via Facebook Marketplace. However, I got badly scammed – ended up with a different bike, had to pay more for it, and later on, I learned it was probably freshly stolen. And to close the circle, the bike got nicked a while later. And since I heard this is a common turn of events not only for expats, I eventually decided to change all that for good.
How does BikeFair innovate?
Jan Pecník: Innovation is pretty much built in our DNA, and BikeFair as a platform is a unique marketplace in our vertical on its own. And we’re still a young startup, so when we see or think of something cool that gets us excited, we build it in. Easy as that. Of course, we have weekly meetups and quarterly reflection sessions to provide some support to this as well as business and dev priority lists to cut off random jumping from idea to idea. But one of the best things about startups is the flexibility, and there’s a lot to improve in our business line. We’re trying to use that to our advantage by staying agile.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jan Pecník: There are both ups and downs. Frankly, our model fits the situation quite well. We are fully online, try to eliminate personal contact, and focus on bikes, which are a great alternative to the now-inconvenient public transport. On the other hand, the winter off-season, in combination with lockdowns and people being conscientious about spending, is a bit tougher than usual. We provide a great tool and opportunity for bike shops to get over this period, though, so we’re doing unexpectedly well on the “sell side” of the marketplace.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jan Pecník: We are actually in the final stage of a fundraising process, which makes this period even more interesting. The most difficult choice in this context is prioritization. Do you focus on keeping the business afloat in the trying times, or do you focus on getting funding? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for the past three months. No deep lesson yet, though, sorry. We’ll see in a couple of weeks…
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and BikeFair in the future?
Jan Pecník: With all that work, there is no time for either :)) But whenever I feel down, I pick my bike or put on my running shoes and go move outside. That always worked well for me.
How do you plan to stay in the game?
Jan Pecník: Bikes are awesome as a sustainable way of transportation as well as a tool to relax – even more so in these trying times. There are many rather big inconveniences one has to face when buying, owning, using, or selling a bike, though. We’re here to cut these inconveniences off and only leave the fun & sustainability parts. Our aim is to bring trust to a relatively complicated industry while providing the best customer service on the planet. Let’s make cycling easy for everyone!
Your final thoughts?
Jan Pecník: Don’t let a punctured tire ruin your day. If you ever struggle with anything related to bikes, let us know. Whatever it may be, I am sure we can help – or at least connect you with someone who can. Lots of health, love, and happy kilometers to all!