Towards the end of the year, our founder and CEO Ella Keijzer walks you through the adventures of the past year. There were ups and downs in 2022, and fortunately many moments of celebration. We talked to Ella about her biggest challenges, love for music and the moment she knew: Bike Labyrinth is going global!
As founder you've been with Bike Labyrinth from the very beginning. How would you summarize the past year?
This was the year of changes. I became the sole CEO of Bike Labyrinth, new teams have been added and with them a lot of new colleagues. In addition, this was the year of small goals. This way you keep it manageable and you work together on our mission: getting as many people as possible to cycle.
You've mentioned it already: you're working as head of the company on your own for the first time. What's that like for you?
Mixed feelings. Job and I started Bike Labyrinth together when we were still students and we lived through every moment together. Luckily we still do! Because Job is currently working for Bike Labyrinth as the Creative Developer, and of course he will always be the co-founder.
This new way of working felt a bit uncomfortable at the beginning of the year, but I've gotten used to it by now. The 'founders bond' we have remains so we can always reminisce together and enjoy all the changes that have happened over time.
There have been many changes indeed! You went from working with just the two of you to 25+ employees. Had you dared to dream that big?
No, I definitely didn't expect it. Bike Labyrinth is still a small company, but to me it can feel really big in comparison. The great thing about working with a small team is that everyone is always up to date and we learn to work in new ways now that the teams keep growing. Everyone gets the space they deserve to further develop themselves and to do what they truly enjoy doing. Together we're working on the bigger picture and all my colleagues inspire me every day!
It sounds like it has been a good year with a lot of growth, but unfortunately there are always setbacks. Where do you find the motivation to persevere despite setbacks?
Hard to say... I think I always manage to give a positive spin to setbacks. I try to see setbacks as challenges! This way something that can be perceived as difficult becomes an exciting opportunity. You have to throw a whole lot of spanner in the works for me to give up on my dream of growing Bike Labyrinth. Challenges are just part of the road to becoming an increasingly healthy and fun company.
In the Netherlands, Bike Labyrinth is already well known in healthcare, but you're also focusing abroad with Bike Labyrinth. How did that come about?
It all started with a request from Belgium. We went there ourselves and we thought that it was quite far... Couldn't someone else do that for us? The idea was born to look for a partner in Belgium. This was quite easy in Belgium, since all customers spoke Dutch, so Fietslabyrint could remain Fietslabyrint. After a while, we expanded to Wallonia and we had the name 'Vélo Labyrinthe' for a while, but we soon realized that it was more convenient not to use a new name for every country, and so Bike Labyrinth came into being.
In 2022, we also grew considerably abroad, and I hope that will only increase in 2023.
And now 2023 is already upon us! What is your biggest wish for Bike Labyrinth this coming year?
The number one wish is the same as every year: that many more people may enjoy cycling and virtually discover the world, resulting in many happy and healthy cyclists.
Other goals and wishes for 2023 include finding new international partners, rewriting our software and quite possibly a new product coming to market...
Exciting! Will there be any new routes in 2023?
Of course, every quarter there are 15 new routes to discover. I myself filmed a farm this year and more train routes are also coming.
Are there any routes that you would really like to see on Bike Labyrinth in the future?
There are plenty... Even though we already have over 600 routes, I can always think of something new. Like a route through the Efteling, a theme park in the Netherlands, for example! I have never been there myself, so that would secretly be a childhood dream come true.
I also love nature, so as far as I'm concerned there are never enough routes with a beautiful forest or beach.
I happen to know that you are a big fan of music and you even make music as well. Do these two passions combine well and how does making music inspire you for Bike Labyrinth?
They definitely go together! What I find cool about making music is that moment when everything is suddenly right. The rhythm and melody go together perfectly. I hope to be able to achieve the same with Bike Labyrinth. Music can spark something in you and absolutely makes people happy and I believe that Bike Labyrinth can do that too. Actually, you give people an experience with both! And who knows, maybe there will be routes with music on Bike Labyrinth in the future. I encourage you to turn on the radio while cycling sometime.
Then finally, do you have any recommendations for all cycling enthusiasts?
My favorite route right now is the dog sled route in Finland, it's always fun to try something totally different. Or the route along the pyramids in Giza! I've never been there myself and it seems like a magical place. So actually my tip is to try something new next year, that way you stimulate the brain and most of all it is a lot of fun to do.
We wish everyone very happy holidays and a sparkling new year! Will you be cycling with us again next year?