WHO ARE THE ZUVOLATI?
Steven loves to be outdoors, cycling and walking and finding great places to chill and have a coffee. Steven is normally well-balanced and can hold a normal conversation unless football comes up – then he is incomprehensible. Having worked for Microsoft for many years, Steven has acquired a vast array of mugs, squeaky toys and other useless objects with the Microsoft logo on them. He keeps them in a display cabinet by his bed and looks at them occasionally, remembering fondly the halcyon days of his long departed youth. Steven has recently defected to Apple hardware – at last!
Steven is ZUVOLO’s founder and product owner – he makes sure that all the lovely new features that we dream up are properly defined and organised and scheduled for inclusion in the ZUVOLO app. He asks a lot of very awkward and searching questions about some of our ideas – we sometimes make up the answers.
Neil uses crayons and cameras and is a complete Apple fanboy. He rides an old steel-framed racer from the 1980’s and built his own hipster fixie bike. As well as owning a classic 1970’s Citroen DS, Neil has a collection of vintage camera equipment. In fact everything about Neil says vintage, including his face. Having worked for design agencies in London and doing time at Microsoft as a creative lead, Neil has acquired an enviable array of name badges and lanyards. He lives out in the country and spends most of his time avoiding cows and tractors.
Neil is ZUVOLO's co-founder and Creative Juicer – he makes sure that the correct shade of turquoise is used in the app and that all the little crinkly bits on the map are properly drawn.
Chris is a genius at making things that require brains and typing. He makes rare objects of desire in code and is the envy of the known world and beyond – at least this is what he tells us. And we believe him because he is cool and hip. Chris has earned an enviable reputation as a mean bagpipe player and has toured the world and elsewhere. His fusion of Gaelic laments and Modern Jazz is definitely something to behold – preferably from within a soundproofed room, many miles away from the actual performance.
Chris is ZUVOLO’s user interface developer – he makes sure that the outlandish and frankly ridiculous screen designs actually come to life in the app. He sometimes uses bad words.
Mike has a brain the size of a planet and is gifted at languages. Unfortunately this gift causes him to utter the most excruciating puns from time to time – he simply blurts them out at random whenever the mood takes him. We would like to hit him but that might be considered impolite and, in any case, we need him to do extremely difficult and challenging work in something called ‘The Back End’ of which we know very little, but we are quite happy about that.
Mike is ZUVOLO’s technology architect – he draws big and important diagrams that make no sense to the rest of us but which apparently make the world work properly. We make sure we keep him well stocked with coloured pens.
Frazier likes to tinker with stuff – until it breaks! He will then ask awkward questions of whoever made the thing he broke until they feel very guilty about it and painstakingly fix it for him. Frazier knows a lot about Physics, so we don’t ask him about it – that way we don’t look stupid. Frazier cycles all the time. He races, he cycles up mountains and down the other side again, then he races some more. When we go out riding with Frazier he drops us at the first hill, does 100km more than us and STILL beats us back to base. He is young – this is our excuse!
Frazier is ZUVOLO’s chief tester (and quite a talent on the cycle racing scene) – he really does try very hard to break the app (and sometimes succeeds). He is there to keep us on our toes and, because he uses the app so much on all his many bike rides, we are constantly fixing stuff for him.
THE BACK STORY
Why we're doing what we're doing
The idea behind ZUVOLO all stemmed from our incurable cycling habit. Steve and Neil were pondering all sorts of ideas about how cyclists could have a dedicated app that would help organize rides, track everyone who was riding and, quite important, keep people safe when they were out on the road.
Steve is a born organizer – he set up regular, informal rides from home and work and gradually found that the groups were getting bigger and bigger. It was around this time that the idea for a simple, pre-ride and in-ride experience was born. Plenty of apps do a great job of plotting routes and showing you your ride in detail after the event but we wanted to have something that would help us before the ride (organising times and meeting points, coffee stops, etc.) and something during the ride (waypoints, points of interest, location of your riding buddies and knowing when someone needed help).
So began the painstaking process of designing and building our first (and very crude) prototype. After a while we got together a really great team, adding Chris, Frazier and Mike, to help build version 2 and they have now become an integral part of the ZUVOLO family – what we refer to as The Zuvolati. This team has successfully created an app that has been used by adventure cycling companies, who take groups out to the Alps and other cycling Meccas to do all the big Tour stages. Keeping their charges under close watch is a crucial requirement for them and ZUVOLO has helped make that task so much easier.
We realized at this point that the app had many more applications than just cycling. We had skiiers and snowboarders approach us asking when the app would be available. We also thought of other travel related situations like family get-togethers, sightseeing at home and abroad, water-sports, and even delivery scenarios that would tell you exactly where your delivery driver was with your precious parcel.
Naturally we have to sift through many of these ideas and come up with new features to support them but, initially, we are talking mainly to groups of cyclists, clubs, teams, tour operators and indeed anyone who likes to get out on their bike for pleasure and exercise. Whether you ride solo and want a loved one to keep an eye on you, or whether you ride in groups and want to meet up and keep together on a ride, or whether you do a lot of sportives with hundreds of riders and you want to see where your buddies are – ZUVOLO is the app that can do all that for you. And we hope it’s going to go on to fulfil many more roles in our daily lives.
We have been testing the app in its various stages of development for hours and days and weeks and months all around the UK, across the Alps, the Pyrenees, from London to Lucerne, from Barcelona to Bristol, and from Lands End to Jon O’Groats, and almost every weekend to every coffee stop within 60 miles of where we all live. So far so good!
Oh, where did the name come from? Well, it’s a small province in Italy, nestling in the Dolomites. To be honest, we found that out after we’d made up the name…quite apposite really.