When he was a child growing up in Kenya, before moving to Canada as a 19-year-old, Zaheer Merali’s parents ran a stationery store. You know, that magical place you’d go to that smells of new materials and a fresh start, like the beginning of the school year.
He was brought up around gifts and greeting cards, and those childhood memories have left their mark on his new business venture, Vimi, one of the coolest products we've designed at Z1. "It's fun to come back to this world and re-imagine the experience using the latest in creative design, software, and technology, to help people create a meaningful connection around something we all love: giving and receiving gifts," says the entrepreneur.
Vimi allows users to create custom video messages linked to a QR code that turns a physical gift into a unique and unforgettable experience, adding extra emotion to each celebration in just four steps:
Vimi enables you to combine videos, images, texts, links, and stickers to suit the user, utilizing the app’s stories editor. It also lets you upload videos from other platforms like TikTok, Instagram, or Canva.
As with many digital products we have been designing at Z1, the Covid-19 pandemic is at the origin of Vimi. Google reveals that in 2021 there were 100% more searches for special birthday wishes. In the opinion of Vimi’s CEO, digital products have adapted to the times by taking habits that already existed and trying to improve them and redesign them for the not-so-new-normal.
He reflects, “we've been using the same technology for greeting cards for 150 years. During the pandemic, we all wanted to continue giving and strengthening the bonds between us through the experience, but we have been more distanced; we had lost the feeling of community. At the same time, we have seen a great outpouring of generosity and kindness since this all started. The Covid crisis has put us ahead of how important it is to show others that we remember them, whether we see them or not. With the distance that opened up between us, we saw that perhaps greeting cards were no longer enough.”
Indeed, Vimi is a business that considers what we used to do, what we love to do, and how we can improve it through the power of video, which is, without a doubt, the star tool of the last years—and not only when it comes to teleworking. Vimi uses video to build better connections and to create unforgettable memories, no matter the special occasion: from birthdays to client appreciation or welcoming remote employees. This is where the expertise and creativity of Z1 come into play.
From our first interview with Zaheer, it was clear Vimi would need our team's full strength, something we were fully committed to. It was one of those apps we love to create, focusing on bringing people together.
Even though celebrating with video became commonplace, there was nothing similar on the market, so we started imagining different possibilities. Together with the Vimi team, we crafted the branding, illustrations, characters, design, and engineering for the whole product.
More than 20 colleagues joined this journey, which has been especially satisfying because, as Juan Pablo González, our Mobile Lead and Vimi Project Manager, points out, "we have been able to give wings to our creativity, which is what motivates us most at Z1".
We have taken care of every step in detail. As a matter of fact, our illustrator, Fran Pulido, suggested making the assistant a friendly character. We created Hapi, a panda that accompanies the user throughout the process, achieving a greater connection with the app. “Keeping up with the multi-sensory experience in the app, Zaheer even involved creative audio professionals to compose music for the product!” adds Marta Becerra, our Product VP and Head of Vimi Resourcing.
To develop an app as complex and dreamy as Vimi, we used very modern, open-source, and solid technologies, which allow us to work dynamically, thanks to the community behind them:
The combination of the resources above results in a world-class level digital product with a cutting-edge digital experience. We met some obstacles along the way, of course, but we solved them:
To develop an app as complex and dreamy as Vimi, we used very modern, open-source, and solid technologies, which allow us to work dynamically
Vimi has been a challenge at a technical level, but we manage to make it very easy for the users. “The idea was that the app would take you by the hand, like an assistant. Our Backend and Design teams have been very synchronized to integrate a photo and video editor compatible with all formats so that the gift recipient could view it without any problem”, Juan Pablo explains.
Marta also highlighted the ease of working with the startup. "It's very easy to be creative when CEOs deposit all their confidence in our team.” What’s more, it is a joy when the other party shares the same feelings: “Z1 is not just any studio; they have something different and special, which is what really helped us bring Vimi to life.”
Zaheer stresses our playbook, “Z1 has a unique process that contemplates the necessary iterations so that everything flows perfectly. The secret is the combination of talent, experience, and empathy, coupled with their culture and leadership. All of this allowed them to understand right away what we wanted to do and help us bring it to life. It was a success that someone like me, full of dreams and ideas but with little technological knowledge, came up with a studio of these characteristics, with this degree of creativity and commitment. I say it without blinking: there is no one like them in the market”.
"Z1's secret is the combination of talent, experience, and empathy, coupled with their culture and leadership. All of this allowed them to understand right away what we wanted to do and help us bring it to life," Zaheer Merali, Founder of Vimi.
Vimi is available on the AppStore and Google Play, and its reception has been fantastic. Above all, it comforts us to know that people will say “I love you” to their partners, show their gratitude to their parents, celebrate a friend's birthday, say hello to a new workmate, and recognize the merits of a team in such a special way.
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