On our radar: Vello folding bikes, found at last month’s Monocle conference in Berlin.
Several compelling brands and businesses were put on our radar at the Monocle conference in Berlin last month, but it was Austrian cycle enterprise, Vello, that stayed top of mind for us.
BERLIN — Several compelling brands and businesses were put on our radar at the Monocle conference in Berlin last month, but it was Austrian cycle enterprise, Vello, that stayed top of mind for us. And it was their demonstration that caught out attention.
Onstage, German typographer and frequent Monocle regular, Erik Spiekermann, demonstrated the ease in which one is able to fold a Vello bike. Corralled by Tyler Brule to try it out for the audience, Spiekermann, with some reluctance, fiddled with the bike. It took him all of five seconds to get it completely folded. There was audible surprise from the audience at just how simple the process was — and we imagine several new orders placed that day.
Our conference notes on the brand:
1. Love the concept. Vello, based in Vienna and founded in 2013 by co-founders Valentin Vodev and Valerie Wolff, is strictly a folding bikes company. And there’s no compromise on performance — Vodev and Wolff emphasize heavily that these are top quality, high-performance bikes, that while compact, are in fact designed to feel and move like full size bikes.
2. Smart design, without the twee factor. There’s nothing precious about what Vello has created here. Oftentimes, design-led products of this nature, especially in categories that appeal to the Gen Y-startup set, tend to get weighed down by twee. This is anything but that — and it’s a refreshing departure from that standard. More to the point, Vello is utilitarian, and has a very clear reason to exist. Vodev and Wolff are rethinking a specific marketplace failure: creating a high-quality city bike that folds quickly and easily, and is lightweight enough to carry by hand to the office, on your commute (Vello’s versatility makes it easy to carry on the subway, which Europeans tend to do), or even fit inside a suitcase (which it does).
3. The crystal ball. Frankly, we imagine this is going to play better in Europe than in the US. Simply put, biking in Europe is far more widespread, and cities like Copenhagen, which have been developed with cyclists at the center, are key markets for the company. Still, cycling in the US is increasing (even if that boom is mostly stemming from the fitness sector) — and more people are thinking about biking to work now than they have in quite some time.
That said, we imagine the path to success for Vello (in the US, at least) is simple based on the following logic: As demand for portable bikes increases for city-dwellers — entrepreneurs, employees, freelancers all need to be able to easily stow their bikes away at the office — Vello might become a key place to solve this problem.