Nino – Pedalo : a tunisian start-up for bicycle delivery services
you tell us about your company?
Pedalo is the first company for “100% bicycle” delivery services in Tunis. This start-up offers companies and individuals a courier services and delivery of either letters, bills, keys, pizza, food, etc.
Officially, the company is called Nino single-member LLC but its current business name is Pedalo. Nino in the next few months will become a LLC thanks to a capital increase and the entry of new shareholders. Both companies are in the same category of ‘partnerships’; the difference is that the single-member LLC, single-member limited liability company, is created and managed by a single person who holds 100% of the capital while LLC, limited liability company, is conceived by 2-10 people.
What encouraged you to work in the mobility field?
It was in 2007! I was on holiday in Canada and I had the chance to meet “911 Corriers” a bicycle courier company in Montreal. It was a trend at the time and all the young people wanted to work on bike. I spent a day working at “911 Corriers”. The first two hours as a courier: I did deliveries with their bicycle and walky-talky. There were no smartphones yet! Later in the day, I spent two hours in the offices where I could follow more closely logistics as well as commercial and administrative procedures. I learned how to write job descriptions, how to pay taxes and present services to customers. For example, I explained them that at rush hour services are three times more expensive.
What were your previous experiences?
I worked in several areas; my grandfather says that a real man should know how everything works in the world. I did my studies at the Tunis Business School and I have a degree in Management with specialization in marketing, new technologies and global business. Currently, I take online courses (MOOC Massive Open Online Course) to keep me updated regularly.
What is your current position?
I am the founder and CEO of Nino – Pedalo since 2013.
How did you create Nino Pedalo?
Since 2007, I have always wanted to create in Tunisia a company as “911 Corriers” but I had neither the means nor the knowledge nor the support.
Between 2007 and 2013, I put aside 3000 dinars and I needed 2000 dinars more to launch my project. I was 22 and I was a student: of course, no bank was willing to give me a loan. My family helped me with 2000 dinars with the condition of integrating commerce in my project: I agreed and Nino Company for commerce and distribution of cleaning products was born.
I rented a small shop in a popular area in which I sell cheap average quality detergents with home delivery service. The first year it was not a big success with only 500 dinars of turnover; almost nothing to finance my studies. The difficulty to take off was also related to a cultural reason: in popular areas, women do not accept to receive strangers knocking at the door. I had to adapt my business! Next to the popular neighbourhood, there was a small and medium companies business district. Moreover, companies can deduct taxes on presentation of our bills. Now it works much better. Pedalo offers various services such as delivery and transport of materials but also takes care to perform services to our customers (tax payment, collection of papers, letters, parcels, etc.). Large companies have their own couriers; we assure the same service to small businesses too.
At first, we bought bikes and were recruited couriers, but it was not rentable because couriers did not take care of our bikes as theirs. Now we only recruit people with their own bike but we ensure their safety by providing a helmet and a lock.
In December 2015, I restructured Nino Pedalo and I split the company in two: Nino, for commerce of cleaning products, and Pedalo for urban mobility consulting and delivery by bicycle.
Pedalo mainly offers delivery, courier services and “consulting in urban logistics” or helping multinational delivery companies to draft their operational plan in order to optimize the transport of goods. My experience with Pedalo allowed me indeed to acquire a good knowledge of streets as well as traffic and I was able to help big companies in Tunis.
During my studies, I attended many logistics courses but theory is not adapted to reality in Tunisia. Knowledge of terrain allows successful business like mine: knowing the streets that are not known or not available allows me to plan multimodal delivery routes. In the medinas, for example, the only accessible way is the wheelbarrow, even bikes have to struggle.
What is the structure of your business?
Since September, the team is built up by 5 owners and couriers at the same time. Among my colleagues, someone works on mobile. Fortunately, our team has all the skills to develop this type of business and shares the passion for cycling, the desire to be free. The bike is for me the best way to feel free. The number of couriers varies according to demand. Their salary is 5 dinars per day; 150 dinars per month is the base pay for a courier to which add commissions.
What are the main challenges you typically face?
On the one hand, roads are not arranged for cycling: in Tunis there are only a bike lane that was funded by the World Bank but is now closed.
On the other hand, police officers still do not accept the concept of young bikers delivering; we often have to stop to make them check and it is annoying when we are tight with the time.
Are environmental issues important to Pedalo?
Environmental issues are included in the sales presentation but pass almost unnoticed because 90% of people only look for the cheaper price. We tried to initiate an environmental awareness campaign on deliveries that we are obliged to do by car (for example for oversized packages). For motorized delivery, we are calculating our actual margins to be able to give at least 50% of income to a reforestation association. This formula had particular success during the month of October in occasion of the festival of trees.
Are you satisfied? How do you imagine your company in the next few years?
Satisfied: I have created a successful company! Nevertheless, as much as the Nino-Pedalo grown, my job and my responsibility increase gradually.
We are working on a mobile application to give the possibility to book services online and to follow in real-time couriers. The mobile application will allow the integration of services in the e-commerce.
Regarding my plans for the future, I would like to start Pedalo in Sfax, the economic capital, and in Sousse. We are currently evaluating the possibility of franchising Pedalo to replicate our experience in other cities. Sometimes I also think to change and move to a solidarity cooperative model in which partners are couriers; this model could be particularly suitable for rural areas and thus contribute to the integration of Tunisian youth in the working world.