Sometimes Tommi Särkkinen looks back to yeply’s beginnings. When he does, the Finn almost always shakes his head in disbelief. For basically the idea to establish a bike repair shop on wheels in and around Helsinki, arose from a random brainstorming between two friends, namely Tommi and his childhood friend Antti Känsälä. „We had arranged to meet for lunch and started talking about our shared childhood, our next cycling tour and our jobs. And at the time both of us felt that we needed a new challenge“, remembers the Finn. Together, the two buddies had cleared many a hurdle, their latest achievement being a strenuous ironman competition in triathlon a few years back. This had created a strong bond between them.
Tommi, who went to the United States and played for the university with a soccer scholarship - and who then worked in the US and in Hong Kong, was also active as a free-lance designer. Antti, after having worked in multiple international companies, returned home, too, and became the CEO of an IT company. So during that conversation in early 2016, Anti remembered an idea he had been mulling over a few years before: the idea behind yeply. „We simply do stuff that excites us and keep pushing each other, states the engineer. And we agreed that the time had come now. My biggest advantage and my biggest flawis that I am the kind of person who can’t sit still“, says Antti with a laugh.
”We take the bike shop to our customers in the form of a service van thus providing the bike service industry with a facelift in the sense of giving it a new, sustainable and modern touch“, Antti outlines their business concept. „With our vision we want to challenge the old way of doing things, of how companies usually work“, says the Skandinavian. „We believe that it takes many more people who have the courage to break new ground and try out crazy things once in a while.“
But how does that work if your bike has a flat tire, for example, or the chain conks out? Very simple: the yeply guys arrive in their black and yellow Sprinter, pick up the bike, repair it – and bring it back to the costumer a few hours later. Business is good, the company is growing and planning has begun for additional pilot projects in other European countries as well. Today, Tommi and Antti employ four permanent staff members and an additional six on a part-time basis. But until then it’s been a long road.
The two (entrepreneurs) first developed their idea after work. "It was an intense time, probably the toughest time of my life“, Tommi stresses. However, the efford paid off for within a few months after said lunch, yeply officially started seeing the light of day. Antii and him got Mikko on board who initially was the only mechanic to take care of on-site bike repairs. ”We deliberately started light, in so that we could find out on a small scale whether our plan would work“, says Tommi. „It has been Anttis intention right from the start to get more people to ride a bike – and it works! People abolutely love yeply!“
Tommi Särkkinen and Antti Känsälä utilize three Mercedes-Benz Sprinters whose interior was custom-built especially for yeply. Among other things, two ergonomically designed workstations for the mechanics have been installed in them, there is a durable, dirt-repellent carpeton the floor and both the side walls and the ceiling have been insulated. ”This way, the interior of the Sprinter can be kept warm, even during the arctic Finnish winters“, Tommi says with a smile on his face. “Seriously: We are very happy with our vans.“
The 36 year-old explains the success of the start-up as follows: "Nearly everybody has a bike at home. But they are not using it because mostly, it is not maintained properly and is not functioning right. To take the bike to a repair shop, however, is ’too difficult’ and time consuming for many people“, reckons Tommi Särkkinen. And here the yeply boyscome into play – as troubleshooters with a Sprinter – and and with an honest vision.
“We want to help people live healthier, more active and ecological lives”, Antti describes the company philosophy. Mastering everyday life with your bike is an essential step in this direction, says the father of three kids and enthusiastic biker. „As founders, it is really important for us that we can stand 100 per cent behind what we are doing.” And Tommi adds: ”Biking has been our mode of transportation since we were able to ride as kids – and this still holds true today. Cycling is sustainable, it keeps you fit, it is fun and protects our planet.“