The obstacles faced
2008 – At first the employees consisted solely of Peter and Joel who gave up all of their spare time to run the bicycle company and working to make a living. As things began to heat up with phone calls, emails and a larger customer base they decided to hire a handful of local tour guides. The idea was to keep everything local and to insure a community benefit for both Santiago and its travelers. It was a struggle at first with all the money being handed out to the guides and the business. There was next to nothing left in the pockets of the creators.
Towards the end of the year they had lost the storage space of their 10 bicycles. The topping on the cake was when Peter was hit by a car on his motorcycle and was faced with fractured ribs and a fractured hip. The leading guide (Peter) was unable to obtain a Green Wheel chair to lead such tours (as wheelchair tours were not the most popular). With a small period of recuperation he was ‘back on his bike’ and showing off Santiago in all it’s greatness. More good news – they found an office (just minutes away from the existing office now) to store their bicycles and run daily tasks.
In 2009 they were struck by the financial crises of both North America and Europe which restricted any kind of influx of tourism. When nothing seemed to be going right, the swine flu epidemic left many afraid to travel and visit South America.
2009 – They decided to expand to the vineyards. Chile is world-renowned for it’s wines and it was time to take to the vineyards in style! This was new territory for both Peter and Joel but even more so for vineyard owner Pérez Cruz who had no previous tourism experience. Together they took a step into the dark and somehow came out the other end with a product that tourists adore.
These things were really taking a tole on Joel and Peter. There was however, light on the horizon and La Bicicleta Verde began to get the recognition that it deserved. In 2008 the press came and began to notice the work that was being done by Peter and Joel. They were praised by Rolling Stone (2008), Rough Guide, Frommers, and Lonely Planet (2009). La Bicicleta Verde started getting it’s name out there. In February 2010 Beyonce was only 10 meters away from jumping on a Green Bike before the crowd of fans frightened her security. Nonetheless, Paul McCartney took the tour with us in May 2011!
In 2010 The New York Times came to Santiago to make a note in its travel section and mentioned La Bicicleta Verde on its cover. The British newspaper The Guardian and The Sydney Morning Herald also wrote articles about La Bicicleta Verde. We had a vision to grow and that’s how corporate events began. Having our first event in late 2010, we made a giant tour with Delta Airlines when they visited Chile with their best employees in a corporate trip. Increasingly, corporate trips and university groups want to learn more about Santiago and our company.
2011 – The company was struggling to stay on it’s feet and needed a plan. That plan was for Tours 4 Tips to open up in Valparaiso (neighbouring town more popular with tourists). Such a move meant that one of the business partners was to pack up his bags and make a new life in Valparaiso. Here, he learned everything there was to know about the Valparaiso culture and how it differentiated from Santiago. Competition was tough, so failure was not an option.
2012 – They decided to open up a bike and wine tour in Cousiño Macul. This is a vineyard located in the walls of the city. It is so old that the city actually grew out to the vineyard. Because it is the only vineyard and is easily accessible, La Bicicleta Verde was able to sell it for an economical price to accommodate most travelers. Peter and Joel had learned from their last bike and wine venture and were really getting to grips with the whole concept.
2015 – The past year the company saw tremendous growth and had more large and private groups taking the tours. Peter and Joel both work on helping people outside of the company. Joel gave up his role as president in ChileSerTur. This was a company and network of Chilean people in the industry working together to protect the independent tourism providers. Here he worked hard on improving the tourism industry in Chile. Peter held conferences and talks with university groups to give them his story and some vital advice.
2016 – La Bicicleta Verde’s most recent large private group consisted of over 200 students in January from the University of Duke, United States. They spent a few days with the team and learned about LBV and its current successes. The activities organized for this group involved applying our gained knowledge and experiences in the industry and showcasing new products and fun tours. We executed tours such as the Treasure Hunt and Build a Bike. Build a Bike was not only an enjoyable team working activity but also an inspiring event. The idea was to create bikes for students of Macleta, a woman’s organization that teaches elderly women to become confident cyclists.
2016 – In April 2015 Casablanca Valley was named New Great Wine Capital of the World, and less than a year later, the green bikes were pedaling through the vineyards in the new Casablanca Bike and Wine Tour. Now Casablanca Valley is one of Chile’s most beautiful, memorable and affordable wine tours.
Today the company is experiencing a huge influx of interns from both Chile and around the globe. It’s truly heartwarming to see how many enthusiastic young people there are wanting to work in a startup environment in the tourism industry. There is a strong energy within the team like never before.
Thankfully now, La Bicicleta Verdes successes are making the struggles a distant memory. However, that doesn’t mean that La Bicicleta Verde are not constantly looking at ways to improve. La Bicicleta Verde is constantly improving the community and the experience for travelers who choose to ride with the Green Team!