The bicycle industry is multi-faceted, with some corners that are far outside the familiar retail areas.
One entrepreneur who has uncovered an unusual side of the bike business is Barbara Croce with her ‘Coffee Bikes’ venture.
Croce’s relationship with bikes started when she was around the age of 13 when she rode in BMX competitions competing against boys. After no little successes in coming third in national competitions, Croce rode demos for IBM at 14 and even put in some TV appearances on bikes and scooters.
Later in life, Croce met her husband (Mario) and got involved in the coffee business. Croce founded Coffee Latino in the mobile coffee industry, providing its customers with all they need to run their own mobile coffee businesses with equipment and training.
Three years ago, Croce and Coffee Latino launched Coffee Bikes (onyourtrike.com). The company said the idea was to use the most eco-friendly way it could to make portable coffee machines, combining pedal power and solar panels to charge equipment.
According to the firm, the Coffee Bikes are looked on favourably by city councils and are adaptable – they can be turned into mobile, pedal-powered flower shops, smoothie bars or ice cream parlours.
Croce tells BikeBiz: "The first year was a little slow, but since then they have really taken off. Last month we sent two to Canada, one to Dubai and one to Colombia. They have also gone to Australia, Germany, Ireland…and of course the UK.
"We have used them for corporate work as well as private and they were used at the Turner Prize show in Gateshead this year, still in the Baltic today."
Along the way Croce won the Best Small Business prize at the Female North East Entrepreneur Awards.
Croce’s plans for the future are to have a main Coffee Bike dealer in every country and the firm is already in talks with Canada with that aim in mind.