Marc de Vries (Swap bike): ‘Everything from my past comes together here’

In the past he already saw Hyves, Twitter and Parkmobile from the inside. During the lockdown Marc de Vries cycled eight thousand kilometers. The standard went down at Swapfiets, where he recently became CEO.

Difficult start, in the middle of a lockdown?

“The organization was in lockdown for the second time, so it was already used to the hybrid form. To get to know everyone, I made a huge number of video calls from home. You notice that you are missing the cultural side. What was possible, by the way, were visits to our stores and warehouses. There I was able to experience the workplace, for example with our 130 bicycle repair shops. The head office has just moved to a new location. And is set up with fewer workplaces and more with a focus on meeting and sharing culture.”

Why Swapfiets?

“Out of interest, I follow many Dutch start-ups and saw more and more of those bicycles with blue tires from 2017. I’m a mobility, tech and cycling guy, so that really caught my eye. I had previously casually flirted with Swapfiets through investor Ponooc, but when I had been away from Parkmobile for months, I was approached by a headhunter. That was separate from each other, but apparently it should have been. My job is to continue the growth, to professionalize the organization, to scale up the technical component and to continue to offer a good customer journey. Our mission to strive for more livable cities and become a fully circular company are very inspiring to me.”

And why step in now?

“We are moving from bicycles to e-bikes and e-scooters. Our products are therefore becoming more and more technical and our target group is changing. We are moving towards an e-mobility provider in currently nine countries. This company brings together everything from my past. At Monster it was hard sales companies, at Hyves building a community, at Twitter the emphasis was on keeping everything as simple as possible and at Parkmobile I learned about mobility in cities on an international scale. The retail and supply chain component is new to me, but I find it very interesting. Swapfiets is in a phase of extreme growth: from a turnover of one million euros in 2017 to forty million last year and 1,100 employees in nine countries. I help companies grow. That is my passion.”

How do you fit into the company?

“I am a marketing and sales person and with this company we sell subscriptions to a service. Cycling without worries. That’s a really interesting proposition. The consumer is moving from owning to paying for use, thereby contributing to a more sustainable society. And as a brand manager, I am naturally very happy with that blue front tire.”

What kind of team do you like to have around you?

“Preferably a diverse and dedicated team that works together on the assignment in a concentrated manner. Work hard, play hard. The latter is important. You can’t go all out for something if you don’t have a passion for it. I’m working 24×7. Then you also want to enjoy your work. As a team, I always like to bring people from different backgrounds together. By the way, that had already grown organically here. It’s in the company’s genes. Engagement is also high. You see that many people here start as Swappers and stay on after their studies and continue to grow internally. Great company, great mission.”

What do you hope to learn?

“What I could apply in the past is no guarantee for the future. I learn every day from all the young smart people around me. Professionally, I want to learn more about warehousing, retail and logistics. And what I would like to experience is that we can convince more and more people that using a bicycle is easier and more sustainable than owning a bicycle.”

* This article originally appeared in the May issue of Emerce magazine (#183).

Source: Nieuws – Emerce by

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