From bike courier in Budapest to entrepreneur in Rome: Eadessopedala is Rome’s first bike courier service
Roland Ruff is Hungarian and in 2009 with another fellow Hungarian, they opened Eadessopedala, Rome’s first bike courier service. Within two or three hours they deliver pretty much anything you need via a bicycle. Their clients range from high end lawyers and notaries to old ladies who can’t make it to the pharmacy to collect medecine. They will deliver your food, agricultural products directly from the producer, your keys, your daughter’s favorite doll she forgot in school, and those important documents you need for your next meeting.
Till 2009, Roland was living in Valencia with his family. There, he was working as a bike courier, just like he had been in Budapest a few years before. One day he received a phone call from his former manager back in Budapest telling him there was a guy in Rome trying to start the capital’s first bike courier service and he needed help.That guy was Thomas Simon, Roland’s former business partner. Roland recalls he had been so shocked by the fact that a city like Rome did not have its own bike messenger service that he just had to go. “I didn’t want to change country once again, especially because my kids were still very young at the time” he says, “but as soon as I learnt Rome didn’t have bike couriers I ran here.”
Most European capital cities have at least one bike messenger company. And for Roland, it is an indispensable service for any large town. “Not only does it make sense but it is also incredibly simple and convenient to deliver by bike”, Roland says. The bike is still the quickest and most efficient way of getting what you need delivered in a city. It also means less cars creating traffic and it is the ultimate eco-friendly choice. “We all know it’s difficult in the city, when you’re constantly running around, to be on top of an environment friendly lifestyle. Choosing a bike courier service gives you an easy option to make that first step.” Lastly, Roland adds, a bike courier company gives all those young people with a passion for cycling the opportunity to work, doing something they love as they figure out their next step. For Roland, working as a bike courier is a chance to have a serious job “in a working environment where everyone is important, each one with their own responsibility”.
When Roland first arrived in Rome he did not speak a word of Italian. “I only spoke some Spanish -he says- it was hard not knowing the language; it isn’t easy to convince clients to sign up with you when you can barely communicate with them”. The business immediately started out as an s.r.l. (the Italian equivalent of an l.t.d.), with an initial opening cost of around 15 thousand Euros, covering the 10,000 Euro fee to open an s.r.l. and 4,000 to 5,000 Euros in notary costs. “We wanted to do everything correctly from the beginning, no working off the books.” But it was hard. “We did everything ourselves and received no financial help”. The initial costs were covered by his three partners, but the rest, the economic growth, paying the first employees, paying taxes were left to the newborn company. With pretty much no money, no funds and an incredibly complicated bureaucratic system to deal with, Eadessopedala’s launch was all but easy.
After six years, Eadessopedala is a consolidated company. It counts between 16 and 22 bike couriers, depending on the season, and reaches up to 400 deliveries per day. Despite the difficulties, it has an annual growth of about 20% and spends virtually no money on advertisement relying only on word of mouth. The key to their success? Lots of work, an inclination to never giving up and the hope that things will turn out for the best. “From the beginning we focused on performance and high-quality service in order to optimize customer satisfaction”. The delivery of a package is carefully followed in all its moments, and all packages are always hand delivered.
To this day, Eadessopedala is still the only bike courier service in Rome performing all types of delivery around the city. What distinguishes their company from other types of delivery services is not only the use of a bicycle but also speed, competence and the quality of the service. Furthermore, “there are a number of independent bike messengers in the city — Roland adds- but the main difference is that we pay our taxes.”
For the future, Roland hopes to grow with more deliveries and more couriers to Eadessopedala’s name. “I can’t tell you a specific number — he says- but I would already be satisfied if we could give a job to 50 messengers”.
Current problems regard more the administrative side of things like dealing with bureaucratic forms and looking for outside investments. “It is a gap we hope to fill in the coming year -Roland says- as well as expanding our ways of publicising ourselves”.
Nonetheless, the future seems to be bright for the company, considering their annual growth and the fact that they have relied till now simply on word of mouth. And, in spite of certain difficulties, Roland has enough motivation to spare. It includes an incredible love for cycling, the beauty of being able to work most days of the year under a beautiful Roman sun and ultimately the feeling that “everyday I am doing something interesting and creating a job that is different from most others.”
Photo credit: Martina Scorcucchi
To learn more about Eadessopedala or request a delivery check out their website
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