Have you ever heard of Taco Carlier? If you haven’t, it’s possible that you have been missing out on something that could potentially change your life. He is the co-founder and CEO of VanMoof, a company that is on target to take the bicycle world by storm. As it happens, Taco Carlier leads a rather interesting life, one that some people might even call spectacular. If this has your interest piqued, here are 10 things about him that will likely make you want to learn even more.
1. He co-founded the company with his brother
Back in 2009, he and his brother, Ties, co-founded VanMoof. According to both brothers, it was a labor of love, but it was also something that was born out of necessity. Hailing from Amsterdam, riding public bicycles to get to and from locations is a way of life. However, there have always been challenges associated with this system of public bicycles. One of the problems involved the bikes being stolen by thieves and another involved the use of bicycles that had been circulated for years, often to the point of being ready to fall apart. Eventually, both he and his brother got tired of dealing with these issues and decided to do something about it. That is how VanMoof got its start.
2. His professional background is in a completely unrelated field
It’s interesting to note that his professional background is in industrial engineering, a far cry from running a business dedicated to providing public bicycles. While industrial engineering is his field of expertise and something that he has quite a lot of experience with, he hasn’t been involved in that particular field in more than a decade. It was something that he stopped being involved with when he and his brother co-founded VanMoof in 2009.
3. He knew nothing about bicycles when he co-founded the company
One of the more interesting things to note is that neither he nor his brother knew the first thing about running a business that centers around bicycles when they founded the company. The only things they knew were those issues that came from their frustration as individuals who also used the public bicycle system in Amsterdam. They knew what they didn’t particularly like about the way things were being run, but they didn’t know anything about operating this type of business. That means that they both did a great deal of research, all while throwing themselves into the project head first with a determination to succeed. Succeed they have.
4. He’s discovered that he’s rather good at innovating things
Throughout the journey associated with creating VanMoof, he realized that he has a penchant for creating things that streamline not only the business process, but also the mechanical aspect of things. In fact, he and his brother have completely redesigned the bicycles that are used for public transportation in and around Amsterdam. If it’s a moving part that isn’t absolutely necessary, they have found a way to discard it or modify it so that it serves a more significant purpose. He has mentioned several times that he is somehow able to take a step back and look at the bicycles themselves in order to see what needs to be changed and what should remain the same.
5. He wants to make the public bicycle system safer
He admits that he has always had a tendency to look at see things through the lens of a problem solver, something that has helped him a great deal when it comes to making VanMoof a success. One of the things that troubled him and his brother from the start was the relative lack of safety in the public bicycle system. As previously mentioned, some of the bikes were not in very good shape and virtually none of them could be tracked electronically. That essentially meant that someone could get on a bicycle and more or less fall off the face of the Earth, with very little information about where that person might have gone or what could have happened to them. He is changing all of that by making safer bicycles that can be tracked in real time.
6. He’s also determined to reduce thefts
Through the exact same systems that make bicycling safer, it’s also possible to reduce bicycle thefts. Prior to the existence of VanMoof, these thefts were a genuine problem, one that Amsterdam was experiencing in prolific numbers. Thankfully, those numbers have dropped off dramatically as a direct result of the efforts of both Taco and his brother.
7. He believes in the electric bicycle industry
He definitely believes that electric bicycles are the answer to a number of problems when it comes to using public bicycles. They’re often safer than traditional bicycles and they’re much harder to steal, for a number of reasons. For example, people can’t just come up and get on an electric bicycle with the intention of pedaling it away like they can a traditional bike. The electric bicycle has to be operated through its electrical system, meaning that there is a way to track its movement. It all came down to developing the bicycles that would be compatible with software used to both operate and track all of the bikes in a fleet. It’s something that took Taco and his brother a long time to create, but it’s also something that has paid off.
8. To date, he and his brother have sold 11,000 electric bicycles
As a matter of fact, their efforts have paid off quite well. As you can see, they have sold thousands of electric bicycles since they developed them at VanMoof. The two most popular sellers include the X2 and the Electrified S2. Both look like normal bicycles, yet incorporate all of the things that make them safer and more comfortable to ride. It also makes them less likely to be stolen. So far, Taco and his brother have made more than 30 million Euros through the sale of these two models alone.
9. He helped develop a television commercial that was banned
It’s true, he and his brother worked on a television commercial that was scheduled to be aired in France as part of VanMoof’s expansion into other markets. Before the commercial even had a chance to air, the French government banned it, stating that they believed the commercial would generate feelings of doom in French citizens. The commercial focused on the opportunity to cut carbon emissions by using bicycles as opposed to automobiles.
10. Despite the hurdles, he enjoys his success
He’s quick to point out that there are hurdles in any business venture. Nevertheless, he and his brother are expanding the business to other markets, including France, London and New York. He says that the two of them have always met challenges head-on, something that has given them a distinct advantage throughout the years.