How was 2023 for Bike Labyrinth? CEO Ella Keijzer reflects

Have all setbacks been overcome? (Spoiler: almost.) Are there exciting things coming up in 2024? (Spoiler: YES!)

2023 has come to an end; a beautiful moment for me, Ella Keijzer, founder of Bike Labyrinth, to reflect and take you through the ins and outs of Bike Labyrinth. It turns out that my articles about Bike Labyrinth and entrepreneurship, such as this one, this one, this one, and this one, are the most-read articles on our website! What an honor that you are all so curious about how our young and rapidly growing company in a fun sector (mostly) overcomes challenges, encounters various obstacles, and manages to reinvent itself time and time again. I won't disappoint you this year because I have a lot to share, and we have once again reinvented ourselves.

Photography by Jeanine Verbraak. Ella Keijzer, founder Bike Labyrinth, during Den Haag Onderneemt

To fully understand where we stand now, I need to go back in time, namely to 2022, which ended in figures worse than expected. We made investments from 2019 to improve our product and company. Despite the enthusiasm of potential customers, the expected sales did not materialize in the following years. Our sales in France were an exception: we had never sent so many Bike Labyrinths there. But sales in the Netherlands, Germany, the rest of Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, and America either grew minimally, remained at the levels of previous years, or even fell below. Did we set our goals wrong or do something wrong? Did wars, unrest, and the pandemic disrupt our plans? Or is the concept of eternal growth and doubling, which tech millennials like Job de Reus (my co-founder) and I grew up with, a fairy tale?

On the right (bike) path

After a short period of mourning, we energetically tried to get everything back on track in 2023. Did we succeed? Not entirely. But we are on the right bike path. Our revenue has grown slightly, and we look back on a year in which we deepened, took important organizational steps, and overcame small and large difficulties.

Other, equally important goals were achieved. The Bike Labyrinth systems are more stable, we have more satisfied customers than ever, the majority of our cyclists see Bike Labyrinth as indispensable, and we have filmed a record number of routes.

And with results, because the following figures came out of our annual survey (in the Netherlands):

Customer feedback for Bike Labyrinth, in the Netherlands

Thousands of new virtual cyclists

Now you might wonder: were we too ambitious with our sales goals? Or are we dealing with an external world that is not cooperating well?

The answer is both. Yes, we were too ambitious, and yes, our goals might have been unattainable even in the best case scenario. Another mistake I made was not raising our prices by January 1, 2023. Convinced that the expected growth would offset the price increases, we chose not to subject potential customers to a price hike. Isn't it nice for potential customers not to experience a price increase somewhere for once? But unfortunately, the desired growth did not materialize.

However, this is not the whole story. Our mission is important, and we derive more joy from letting many people relive memories or create new ones while cycling than shouting from the rooftops about revenue or profits.

We have promoted our mission and Bike Labyrinth well, gaining thousands of new cyclists and guides last year. The greatest compliment is that most of our current customers continue to subscribe to new routes and use their Bike Labyrinth daily.

It was a good year in almost every aspect. Our resellers from France and Belgium visited us, I spoke in an internationally well-watched webinar about the power of virtual cycling, two colleagues went to the Baltic States to film beautiful new routes for our customers there, Dita van Rijn from Salem nursing home participated in our summer campaign and won a yearly subscription, the kidney foundation from Curaçao visited us, and much more: browse here for more.

MOBILE France visits The Hague

Lessons and wishes for 2024

What we have learned above all is that entrepreneurship and building a company are a marathon, not a sprint. Realistic goals are more motivating than visions of the future that are difficult to achieve. Grand thinking is beautiful and motivating, but only in combination with reality and numbers. We have to do it together with our fantastic team. You can be proud of small growth, which, when added up over the long term, has more impact than you might think. Valuable lessons to take into 2024.

Because 2024? That will be a year like never before. A glimpse of what is to come this year:

  • A historic new route through the Rijksmuseum will be available to all customers with an active subscription. During this route, you can peacefully enjoy the beautiful art of Dutch masters (and of course, the impressive building).
  • We will (finally, as some of our customers will say) film routes in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.
  • Also, on Curaçao, kidney patients can virtually cycle at the kidney foundation from next year: two Bike Labyrinths are currently on their way to them by ship.
  • Thanks to the hard work of our Software team, a new 'code base' for Bike Labyrinth will be released in the course of 2024. This means that we can develop your wishes faster and implement updates to our software. As a cyclist, you won't notice much of this code base. What you will notice is that the appearance of Bike Labyrinth is now in line with the company branding and looks very nice.
  • There will be more countries in which you can cycle with Bike Labyrinth in healthcare institutions. The new markets in Chile, Australia, and Great Britain will start thanks to all the preparations made last year.
  • The relationship with our current partners in Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, America, Brazil, will grow. Together with these long-term partners, we are working on our mission to get as many people in healthcare institutions cycling, regardless of age, limitation, or rain.
  • And, the most thrilling part, because we receive this question a lot: Fietslabyrint Thuis, our app that allows you to virtually explore the world from home, is already available for download in the Netherlands. You will learn more about this in a forthcoming article from me. Or take a look in the App Store or Play Store if you're in the Netherlands.

And our revenues and goals? We will steadily increase them, just challenging enough and achievable. One thing is certain: this year too, together with our partners, we will do our utmost to inspire as many people as possible to go (virtual) cycling.

Best wishes for 2024!

Fietslabyrint Thuis, hoe werkt het?
Fietslabyrint Thuis, available in the Netherlands