From Athens to the north of Bremen
Stasinopoulos was certain that other people would find the FP to be a practical option for the big city. He presented the folding bike at various European cycling and outdoor pursuits expos and built up his network. He began manufacturing and selling a range of models, including the Kàro cargo bike, across Europe. But then the economic situation in Greece became more difficult. Capital controls introduced in 2015 made it impossible to transfer money abroad, and Stasinopoulos found that he was unable to import parts for his bicycles and attend trade fairs in other countries. This forced him to look for a new production site. Through a bike dealer in Münster and a friend in Bremen, he got to know the north-west of Germany better. “Bremen is a great city for cyclists. And it’s easy to service the markets and trade fairs in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and the UK from here,” he says of his decision to emigrate to the city on the river Weser.
No sooner said than done. He moved from his native Greece to Bremen with his wife and three children in July 2017. Kolja Umland, project manager for international relocation at Bremeninvest, the international brand of Bremen’s economic development agency, assisted him with incorporating the company and finding premises. Stasinopoulos found a workshop for his start-up, Velo Lab GmbH, in what was then the Sirius Business Park in Bremen-Woltmershausen, which since May 2018 has been owned by Justus Grosse GmbH. But he soon found that 50 square metres of space was not enough to accommodate a workshop, an office and storage. “I asked a metalworker based in Bremen-Burg, who has made prototypes for us, whether he knew where I could find suitable premises,” says Stasinopoulos. “And as it happens, there was space free in the building next door.” He now has 160 square metres of space to build his bikes, three times as much as he had before.