Tworby: ‘Talking brings us even closer to our target audiences’

Bob van den Berg had just graduated as an innovation scientist at TU Eindhoven when he was approached with a strong idea – a way to positively impact mobility, health, independence, and sustainability. “Without a doubt, I wanted to commit”, he looks back. “I always wanted to do something ‘good’. So, I seized this opportunity with both hands.” It resulted in what is now known as Tworby.

Tworby allows people to convert their (electric) bicycle into a stable tricycle, keeping them independent, mobile, and healthy for longer. But there’s more: with Tworby, you don’t have to buy a new bike, making it a durable solution. And Tworby is committed to labour participation: the product is assembled at De Voorwerkers, by people with a labour market disadvantage. “There are so many upsides to Tworby”, says Bob.

Embarking on the customer’s journey

Bobs journey as an entrepreneur began in 2019 with product development. This led to a product launch during the Covid pandemic. “That would always have been tricky, but it most definitely was for us, because we focus on an elderly audience”, Bob acknowledges. “We learned a lot during that time. For example, we now sell through bike shops and pair customers and occupational therapists, to let them master the new way of cycling. We continued to improve at guiding customers through the transition, by providing them with the right support and answering their questions.”

One way Tworby does so, is by offering transparent information. “For example, we write blogs and explain in which situations a Tworby will help, and when it might not be the best fit. This could also mean that a potential customer moves on. But in that case, we’d still have helped someone, and in the long run, that’s always the way to go.”

Bob invites customers to test days at bike shops, which often take care of fitting the product. He sees that for some older people, a taboo still surrounds the idea of needing a tricycle. “We see reluctance declining, though, especially since our solution lets people keep their bicycles. And during test days, we also invite current customers to share their stories as ambassadors. And that helps lower the emotional threshold even more.”

‘Broadening means less focus’

Bob says that in recent years, he has come to understand his customer base and knows how to support them in the best possible way. The result of many iterations and much research. “For example, we talk to people who have chosen not to go with us and use that information to keep improving our product.” New product ideas also come up from time to time, but for now, Bob focuses on fine-tuning Tworby. “Broadening your view means loosening your focus. We have plenty of ideas, but for now, we choose to keep focus.”

Pitch training and talking to investors

“Three years ago, I was invited to pitch Tworby to the Business Angel Network Nijmegen, a meeting for angel investors. And just a couple of weeks ago, I stood in front of the same group again, telling them about my journey of the past three years.”

A stage pitch and speaking to investors for the first time: it was all new to Bob. An Oost NL and Briskr pitch training came at just the right time. “I gained a lot of insights: what to pitch, what questions to expect? I also got in touch with investors. I still keep in touch with some of them.”

Cycling like on a bicycle, with the support of a tricycle

Bob has two focus points for the near future: continuous development of his product and getting even closer to the wishes and needs of the customer. “For example, when developing our product, we try to involve test subjects who also participate in studies at Radboud University.” He wants to get the product to the point where it offers the ‘bike feel’ of bicycles, and the stability of a tricycle.

Guidance from occupational therapists

When it comes to offering the best possible support and staying close to the target group, Bob sees plenty of opportunities for the future. “We strongly recommend that customers practice under supervision of an occupational therapist, before going out on their own. We will remain doing so, even if the user experience might be even closer to what people are already used to.”

Because it’s not just about getting used to a new way of cycling, Bob explains. “Many people have also become afraid of cycling because they have experienced a fall or haven’t cycled for a while. There is also an emotional component, and by collaborating with occupational therapists, we can offer them the best possible support.” This requires intensive preparation, Bob noticed. “But we also see that it led to increasing customer satisfaction.”

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