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Visiting industry players: Rouvy

In a world where, for most practitioners of any sport, time restrictions and weather conditions determine the number of hours we can spend doing what we like the most, online training platforms are undoubtedly a convenient tool and a very valid alternative.

If we focus on the cycling sector, we can find several options that promote a virtual world in which to continue practicing our favorite sport. Following a different approach, within the current offer, there is a company that is focusing instead on the use of virtual reality and works very hard to bring the outside world closer to the inside of our homes in the most similar way possible. That app is called Rouvy.

We have had the opportunity to learn more about what is behind this company, familiarize ourselves with the product they offer, and chat face-to-face with some of the most relevant individuals of the firm. The visit has exceeded our expectations and, honestly, we have been satisfactorily impressed by the solution they have on their hands.

The beginnings

Founded in Vimperk, Czech Republic, the company has been developing what we currently know as Rouvy since 2017. The origins of the global as a whole date back to 2006, when two brothers (Petr and Jiří Samek), passionate about mountain biking, embarked on a business adventure by creating its first application for indoor cycling training. Years later, in 2013, they started developing software for the bike trainer brand Saris, formerly also known as CycleOps.

Since Rouvy was founded, there has been an unwavering vision to simulate reality and deliver the most authentic cycling experience possible. With that goal engraved in their minds, they have worked tirelessly over the years to improve the user experience, and we could sense the eagerness in all that they said. They are getting there, and the platform is considered number one when it comes to virtual reality.

Today, Petr Samek, CEO of the company, continues to lead the project, working hard and striving every day to offer an authentic and high-quality service. The market is clearly dominated by one competitor, but both Petr and the rest of Rouvy use this as motivation to continue innovating rather than as a stopper.

At the Rouvy offices

It’s funny. Whenever we are about to visit a brand, we unconsciously do an exercise of imagination and try to guess the dimensions of the factory, how many buildings the facilities will consist of, or the number of employees that keep the company afloat.

On this occasion, the visit to the headquarters of Rouvy, a technology company whose main asset is not a tangible product, had us completely out of place. We had no idea what we were going to find.

They are located in a modern neighborhood of Prague, overlooking the Vltava River, and the team is composed of young, enthusiastic people eager to move the project forward. One could feel that cycling is all around the office, in the same way, that we could check the professionalism and commitment to the brand among the people we met. According to Lucie, Rouvy’s communications and public relations manager, they try to find the balance between their work commitments and their inherent passion for cycling.

Current positioning

Rouvy’s mission is to offer a virtual cycling tool not only to experienced riders looking to stay in shape during the cold months and scarce daylight hours but to any cyclist, regardless of level. Beyond the workouts you can follow, grouped into categories such as ‘cadence’, ‘anaerobic’ or ‘recovery’, the platform allows you to discover more than 30.000 km of exotic routes on the other side of the world, ride along a promenade, or challenge yourself on a famous mountain stage of a Grand Tour. Are you curious about how hard the Transfagarasan is but you are not planning on traveling to Romania? There is a route already available on Rouvy. Have you heard great things about the roads and landscapes of New Zealand? You can check it yourself without leaving home.

You can find segments with varied distances and elevation gain in which the reality of the route, previously recorded by a specialized Rouvy team and their collaborators worldwide, is combined with a virtual avatar that personifies each user during the session.

In addition to the entire range of options that the platform provides, there is a functionality called Spotlights. They are a type of thematic package, usually temporary, that includes related routes, challenges, events, and prizes. A way to organize platform content coherently for users, fostering a narrative thread that users can follow for weeks.

For example, the platform is currently incorporating a multitude of segments from the great spring classics with the Spring into Action label. Users will be able to ride some of the most emblematic segments characteristic of this time of year, even before the professionals, or try to replicate their winning attacks once the race has finished.

With 150 million kilometers ridden each year, Rouvy has firmly established itself as the leading global indoor cycling augmented reality platform.

The three countries where the system has the most presence are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. All in all, in recent times, there has been a significant increase in most countries in the European Union. Globally, the constant growth of 40%, year after year, is a clear indication of its increasing popularity among cyclists around the world.

Regarding possible interdisciplinary growth, the director of product experience, Antonin Parma, confesses to us that they do not plan to add other sports to the platform in the near future. The company wants to stick to cycling and focus on optimizing each component of the current solution.

Key partnerships

During these years, in addition to developing and improving the products they offer, the people at Rouvy have worked to find some alliances that would allow them to make themselves known and continue growing their user base. A clear example of this is the agreement that, in 2020, they reached with La Vuelta and allowed them to offer all their users the possibility of experiencing some stages of the official route from their own homes, completing some challenges and races online, or comparing themselves with the professionals in the most well known climbs.

“Some stages were filmed right in front of the race caravan, so riding behind the leading motorcycles, with the fans on the side of the road cheering you, simulates a true racing experience.”

A few weeks ago, Rouvy announced a technical partnership with the professional cycling team Lidl-Trek for the 2024 season. This new link between the team and the platform allows the entire roster to use the application to train indoors when necessary and do the recon of upcoming races in an alternative way.

“At the moment, we’re dropping our little Google Maps man and walking some of the roads, so to have the roads filmed and readily available to ride will really help … and it’ll help the climbers be able to feel the climbs and different gradients, and also for sprint finishes, you can get more of a feel for how much a road is uphill/downhill if there are corners, and I think that’ll be a huge advantage for us” – Elynor Backstedt, Lidl-Trek rider

This agreement also expands the possibilities of customizing each user’s avatar. The Trek Madone, Émonda, and Domane bikes with which the team competes and the official kit has since been found in the customization menu, and within the training section, there is a new six-week plan provided by Lidl-Trek, in addition to events with team riders organized on the platform.

About the Rouvy of the future

Surely, the most revolutionary innovation on the horizon for Rouvy is the inclusion of user-created routes. It means offering the possibility of creating the route through a GPX file or similar, together with a video recording of the route, and if the route meets all the requirements established by the software, the route may be available privately for the user and their friends. In a second phase, Rouvy wants to go a step further and add an entire certification process for each route to enable that route to become public and thus continue feeding the system with user contributions.

This feature promises to increase the platform’s engagement, as it will be a way to get users involved and personalize the experience even more. It would be a handy feature, and what we have in mind is, for example, a fun race against your friends on a segment all of you know at the top of your hand.

This new functionality could be a game changer for Rouvy, as it would allow them to scale and accelerate the implementation capabilities of new routes, promising a significant advantage over competitors.

It is evident that the platform has taken a massive step in terms of quality and improvement of the application in recent years, but we are sure that what is to come is still much better. We are eager to follow the project closely and encourage you to do so too.