Reporter REGIO: episode 14
A two-wheeled-business accelerated at REGIO speed
Success stories, possible with the support of Regio Nord-Est 2014-2020
The business idea came through college, somewhere in 2007, when entrepreneurship seemed attractive from a student position, and the need for money was very much alive. Passionate about everything that means two wheels, Ovidiu Teofănescu sought to combine passion with entrepreneurship and do something different and new on the market. He is from Piatra Neamț City, graduated from the Faculty of Tourism in Bucharest, and sells, through BizzOnWheels.com, mobility solutions on two wheels: commercial bikes and advertising trailers, all over the world. The production is made in Neamț County, with Romanian materials, and the financing obtained through the 2014-2020 ROP helped the business to increase its production capacity by 500% thanks to the purchased equipment.
An untapped niche in Romania
Searching for business ideas, he found some advertising four-wheeled bicycles on the Internet somewhere in Belgium. That’s when he realized that a bicycle can also perform commercial tasks, not just recreational ones. He created a prototype bicycle with an attached billboard and set up an advertising agency to sell the idea of mobile advertising. „The agency was not successful because I did not insist on it too much, it was difficult to divide school and fun and business at that age. But the idea stayed in my mind and worked continuously as a challenge. Because I’ve always loved bikes, motorcycles and I’m passionate about everything that means two wheels, at the end of college I decided to go ahead and put the idea into practice. At that time, I couldn’t find a correspondent in the market, someone who could do that„, Ovidiu recounts.
Street Food & Food Carts
In 2011, he materialized the idea into a product through the „bici” advertising trailer or AdBicy. It was mobile advertising with some utility bike trailers. He promoted it and slowly the money started to come in as well. From that moment, he reinvested all the money and with the profit from the sales, he started to develop the concept. „Our mission is to help companies and small entrepreneurs. Initially, we thought the target audience was young entrepreneurs starting small businesses, but now we sell to large companies and resorts. In general, we help companies get where their customers need them and can’t get there otherwise. You can exploit any small space, for example in a park, where there are people and they would need ice cream, a coffee, the activity can be carried out in just two square meters. Commercial carts are used in spaces where you can’t make a fixed point of sale, and you can’t enter with a car either. The bicycle creates a new opportunity. That’s how the idea of the mobile store on a bicycle was born, some mobile carts towed by bicycle that can be used in two ways, you push them or pull them„. Bizz on Wheels essentially makes utility bike carts. With these, commercial activities of street sales of ice cream, coffee, barbecue, hot dogs, and street food can be carried out. These carts, depending on the equipment, can be powered by gas or electricity, and some of them are completely energy independent. Sustainability is enhanced by the solar panels and electrical system kits that come with them. „This is how we understand to contribute to the preservation of our planet,” says Ovidiu.
Street commerce, a super business in other countries
99% of sales are exported, mainly to the USA, but also to 80 other countries around the world. Abroad, this type of street trade is very well developed, with allocated spaces, with annual authorizations. In Romania, Bizz On Wheels sells very few bikes, and not because there is no demand, but because authorizations are very difficult to obtain. Legislation is not very well established in this segment, yet, but authorizations for this type of trade can be obtained during events, festivals, or fairs that have gained success in recent years. „Since we started and until now, things have changed, we also started selling in Romania, but a little, let’s say 1%. Abroad, things are different. In New York it’s a super business, they haven’t eliminated the small street vendors. An authorization in Central Park can reach 400 thousand dollars a year, which means that there is profit. Here, there is only the events market where this kind of business can be done, a market that has developed a lot in recent years„.
Laser technology by REGIO
Ovidiu tells that this business developed very hard. It took a long time, from the first product to the designed Bizz on Wheels, which includes a complex range. „It is very difficult to do both production and sale. They are two completely different activities. Production consumes a lot of resources. We do something for a very small niche, we haven’t reached volumes. An ad trailer cart isn’t for everyone. The market is small, growing but slowly. We promote ourselves at international fairs, but mostly online. We are a business that could not exist without the Internet. I tried to make it grow, but I realize that if that had happened, I wouldn’t have had the ability to produce them.”
In 2019, while he was at a bicycle fair, he came into contact with a consulting firm from Bucharest that told him about the advantage of European funds and how they could help him in production. It seemed like a game to him, he didn’t think for a second that he would have any chance of getting European money, but the project was accepted for financing, and from that moment the game turned into something serious. “The laser cutting machine helped us move from artisanal production to mass production. It allows us to scale and produce a larger number, faster and at a much better quality. It’s micron precision. For mass and series products, it is mandatory to use high-performance machines. This is where the funds helped us enormously. This machine helped us to standardize. We were blocked for a very long time. Even if we had larger orders, we wouldn’t have been able to honor them because we were mostly making them custom. The client told us what he wanted, we made it by hand, it was possible. But the capacity for growth was also very limited. Working manually, the production time was long. At one point, we had about 25 people employed with a fairly small turnover. It was not good„. The machine changed the future outlook for production, standardized the products, and now they are becoming multifunctional, and adaptable. Now, the customer can equip his cart himself, according to his needs, depending on the type of trade he carries out. In this way, the production time decreased a lot and the capacity increased 5 times per shift, with the same people.
``Now we can easily double our turnover with this machine``
The Bizz on Wheels business has had a turnover growth of 30% naturally, every year, since the establishment of the company, but now, with this technology, Ovidiu estimates that it will be much higher. „Production capacity has increased by 500%. The focus will shift to sales now. With this equipment, we solved our biggest problem: production. To scale, we would have needed more people. Now, people only do the assembly, handling, or packaging part, not production”, says Ovidiu Teofănescu. He also tells us that the objective of the business was not the financial part. He considers himself attached to the products and the creative side. “Bizz on Wheels is a living thing. I still see it as a manifestation of me. I fed on the creative side and got emotionally attached to the products because production gives you the advantage of being unique. It’s just that when we talk about business, the magic of entrepreneurship must also materialize in money. All the money that came into the business, I reinvested it in the business as well. And now we can easily double our turnover with this machine. We started the year really well on the sales side. It feels good. The European funds helped me advance at least 5 years in the evolution of the company„.
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