Jan makes it in Tilburg

Jan van Riel (53) wanted to do things differently. Just before the age of 50, he started his process towards innovative entrepreneurship. He once scratched his head: Soon I'll be fifty and I'll be able to work for another 17 years. Do I still want to continue in the current way? Will we continue to muddle along in the same line, will we stop and will we do something else? Or will we make a completely new start? And if so, how do we do it?

In 2014, Jan van Riel's bakery in the Hasseltstraat in Tilburg will hardly be viable and the location is completely unsuitable for other purposes. Things should actually be different: breaking with the bakery-family traditions and perhaps moving to another location. In Niek Frijters (Bureau voor Beeldvorming) Jan finds the ideal sparring partner to put his ideas into practice. This collaboration results in a totally new bakery concept. No more working deep into the night, but starting around 6 a.m. in the morning and having the shop full at 9 a.m. is one of the objectives that Jan wants to achieve. Back to the tradition of the baker's trade with homegrown desem cultures, honest products, without artificial additives, with CSR high on the agenda.


In 2015, the bakery moved from the Hasseltstraat to the new development area at 'de Piushaven' in Tilburg. An area of interest for the municipality of Tilburg with a lot of vacant old business premises. A Piushaven without the many restaurants and without the beautiful and busy terraces as we know them today. A new bakery is being built in an old, dilapidated factory building of the former rainwear factory in Falcon. The authentic rawness of the building - including the shed roofs that are so recognisable to the textile industry - stimulated creative thinking in order to arrive at a unique, innovative concept for design and appearance. Together with Niek we looked at a redefinition of the term bakery. What is a bakery? How can you add more value and be more than a shop where people can buy bread, biscuits and pastries? After months of preparation, sparring, sketching and a successful crowdfunding campaign (150,000 euros in just 8 hours!), the bakery/lunchroom Bikken&Bakken concept was born. A trendy bakery with a lot of experience and a clear story with a vision ... entirely according to the personal dream of Jan van Riel.

Experience concept

"I wanted to get in touch with my customers. Don't just bake bread in the back of the bakery without any kind of interaction with the people who buy my products and enjoy them. That's why we now show you the craft, the entire production process, as a customer you can see happening in front of your nose. With an open view, the customers can see me and me in front of them." In doing so, Jan was at the forefront of the trend towards greater transparency and the experience of old crafts. They come from all over the Netherlands to watch this concept with great interest and to see how experience really works, also in the baking world. "I have a chat with as many customers as possible, the personal interest works both ways; the customer likes to know from whom they buy something and I am also very happy with my customers!

Personal branding

This 'personal branding' goes well for Jan; his bakery is very popular and now the team consists of 14 people. Bikken&Bakken has been active for four years now in one of the most popular places in Tilburg. The Piushaven has become a gem that not only attracts many people from Tilburg, but also tourists from outside. In a short period of time, Bikken & Bakken has gained a great reputation as a bakery for real bread lovers, but also as a supplier to the hospitality industry in Tilburg and elsewhere. The latter is due to the cooperation with baker Martin of the former Martin's Broodega.


Bikken&Bakken attaches great importance to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR comes into its own in various ways. "In order to use Low Food Miles, we work together with farmers in Brabant. For example, our hams come from the Walhoeve in Goirle and the cheeses from the Ruurhoeve in Hoogeloon. In addition, we work as much as possible with native wheat and spelt varieties. We also have a no-waste policy. The bread that remains at the end of the day is not just thrown away. We make sure that this bread goes to various charities, such as Stichting Broodnodig by Pater Poels, the pigs from Stadstuinderij Piushaven and petting zoos. And as far as packaging is concerned, we only use FSC-approved packaging material."

Jan's golden tip

"It can get weird." according to Jan van Riel. "From being a 50 year old, you can't keep up the good work, but you can continue to grow with a successful, innovative concept. It hasn't all gone without a hitch, ups & downs are part of entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs give up too quickly in my opinion. You really need to have a long time and keep believing in yourself and your concept." So here's his golden tip: "Believe in your own ability, have a dose of guts and work hard. Typical Tilburg characteristics!"


Innovative maker