Veloccino - A Tasty Experience on a Cargo Bike
CityChangerCargoBike finds more local heroes!
This time, we meet Florianne and Carlos, two young entrepreneurs from Belgium and Mexico, who made use of the numerous ways to customize cargo bikes and with a bit of creativity turned it into a local start-up. Two years ago, they founded Veloccino, an eco-friendly coffee-bike business.
The idea behind Veloccino is just as unique as their cargo bike. Carlos and Florianne hope to reconnect customers with sellers by creating a friendly space on the streets for people to meet and share a tasty experience. Out on the streets with their good-looking cargo bike, Veloccino invites Brusselers not only to enjoy a cup of full-bodied coffee but to explore new mobility options.
As we speak, curious pedestrians stop in their tracks, take pictures and start a conversation about the cargo bike.
Tell us a bit about Veloccino. Why did you decide to start your business on a cargo bike? Where did you get the idea?
Carlos: “We got the idea two years ago. We wanted to improve the to-go customer service. We felt that when consumers are buying products on the streets, they are not properly served, or they cannot easily find good quality products. We thought that one of the best ways we could connect with people and be eco-friendly was through a cargo bike. As we are biking the streets, we can offer an experience that is closer to the customers. Coffee is our main flag. We are offering high-quality coffee that one cannot easily find in Brussels. That is why our customers love it!”
How often do you change location?
Florianne: “As the weather is getting colder, we are focusing on events. Before that, we were mainly in Ixelles, at Metro stations or the university. “
Carlos: “The concept of our business is really to be mobile. We bike from one spot to another. “
Florianne: “Exactly, we did a lot of research on how to make everything fit and mobile. We noticed that there are some cargo bikes, but the sellers are not actually biking it. They just put it on a truck and assemble it on the streets. Our coffee machine, for example, works on gas so we can take it anywhere.“
What kind of events do you usually attend? And how far do you cycle?
Florianne: “Mobility, sustainability and coffee are most important for us. We try to fit these ideas with the places we go to. But we also like to attend different types of events not only because it makes our business work but because we like to share what we do. Usually, we cycle no more than around 40 minutes. We attend public and private events such as zero waste fairs, markets, events related to coffee, mobility, or sustainability. We were also at the launch of the European Mobility Week. It has always been part of our goal to raise awareness along with bringing good coffee. We want to have a better planet, less waste, and more cycling. “
Is simply being on a cargo bike an effective marketing tool and inspiration for other people?
Carlos: “When you bike with a cargo bike such as this one, people look at you like: “WOW, how is it possible that they are biking that thing on the street”. It is small but at the same time, we carry a lot of stuff. Our goal was to be as efficient as possible and we are thanks to our cargo bike! “
Florianne: “Our customers love to see a bike like this. Everyone is super curious about what it is, how it works and what we are selling. It really attracts attention. The cargo bike is truly an eye-catcher.”
How do you feel about cycling in Brussels with such a big cargo bike?
Carlos: “Cycling in Brussels can be a bit tricky. A lot of the streets are quite narrow. There are certain streets with lanes that are reserved for bikes and Busses. But on other streets, it is less safe. We have an electric bike, but we are still not that fast because it is quite heavy. Some drivers do get a bit impatient. On the other hand, they don’t see this kind of bike every day, so they slow down out of interest.“
Florianne: “It is a matter of space. If other cyclists have the space to overtake one another, it’s fine. But Brussels is improving. There is more awareness for climate change. People are taking more action. I definitely see an evolution. Now the infrastructure needs to follow. But it is happening!”
Carlos: “I agree, there is an evolution, but it is going slow. Cargo bikes have become more common for personal use and families. But you hardly see any businesses. Good cycling lanes are most important for me.”
What needs to happen to improve the situation for cargo bikes and especially starts-ups such as yours that require a lot of space?
Florianne: “Safe parking spaces are an issue. Because of all the machinery, we cannot just leave it on the streets. The risk is too high, which is why we prefer to stay in the neighbourhood.”
Carlos: “For sure, safe parking or bike boxes would be useful for us. At the moment, it is difficult to attend events that are a bit further away or take place for more than one day. We also need to charge the battery overnight. Most of the time we have to bring it back to Ixelles.“
And what would you wish for from the city? How could they support cycling and cargo bike businesses?
Carlos: “From the local authority perspective, I think they must incentivise cargo bikes. Especially cargo bike businesses. We need more support. They must understand that we are a different kind of business. Usually, they don’t understand what we are doing.”
Florianne: “Sometimes, they see us as a normal food truck. And we are not. The Commune has fixed costs for places, these are often too expensive for us because we sell smaller quantities. We asked for a special discount, but they are not very open to this idea. There needs to be more flexibility for new business models. We need more support to help us thrive and to make our business work.”
Carlos: “For events it is different. The events we attend are starting to introduce discount fees for cargo bikes. But unfortunately, it is not coming from the local authorities. I hope there will be more in the future. I think more people will start a cargo bike business that way.”
As Florianne’s and Carlos’ story illustrates, cargo bikes are a perfect opportunity for creative minds to realise their businesses. Whether it is, coffee, ice cream, flower delivery or so much more.
In striving for healthier, more efficient and sustainable cities, local authorities now have the chance to offer more support and foster this movement. In return, they will reap numerous benefits and watch their streets spring back to life.
CityChangerCargoBike will be on the lookout for more cargo bike stories. Stay tuned, join the movement, let yourself be inspired and get your cargo bike smile!
Do you have a cargo bike business, run your family errands on a cargo bike or use it for any other creative purpose? Tell us about it! Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to become a local hero and share your cargo bike story.