In the saddle: Splash Map's David Overton - BikeBiz

In the saddle: Splash Map's David Overton

Founder of washable maps business talks retail and tour customisation
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BikeBiz: What bikes do you own and where's your fave place to ride them?

David Overton: I have a Kona NuNu. She's a little heavy compared with my friends' in the NewForce mountain bike club, but I like the hard tail and it's so well specced for the price. It also means I get some great exercise and means I'll really appreciate the next upgrade. 

My commute (16 miles round trip typically) is on a 27” Scott Sportster Hybrid. It does the job, never fails (despite my appalling maintenance regime) and is ideal on the Sustrans routes that take me to neighbouring towns.

In your opinion, what's the biggest rush achievable on a bike?

For me, it's wooded single track. Definitely steep and not too technical, so I don't have to use those brakes. Sticking with what I know; it's the descents off the South Downs around East Dean and Charlton, but I'm touring the trail centres this year and expect to top this experience there.

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How did you end up in the cycling trade?

Frustration. Working as innovation manager at the Ordnance Survey, seeing great ideas that would really work for cyclists, but not being able to exploit them. So I started my own business once it became clear that Cycling was positively exploding in this country. I've always loved cycling and have commuted by bike since school days. I'd say it's saved me enough money to start a business and given me the vital thinking space to dream-up how it would work. I'm very grateful to all my bikes for that.

Tell us about your day-today role at Splash Maps:

As MD I am constantly on the look out for opportunities and constantly looking at ways to improve our service to customers. Today I'm planning our Summer supply, scheduling prints against the events we plan to make maps for and attend (and sometimes compete!). My favourite activity is sending out dedicated maps to independent bike shops and then following-up to see how they've been used. I'm also in the midst of a website upgrade and improvements that will make our customer’s experience even better.

And what's Splash Map's unique selling point over other maps?

Unlike anyone else, we print our maps onto cloth, not any old cloth either. This is a breathable, washable, wearable, non-stretching and rainproof polyester, often used in cycling apparel. Whichever way you use them, they're always close to hand and don't need preserving in special cases.

Like paper maps they cover a large area, but never need to be folded and never turn to pulp in the rain. Like GPS, these maps are based on the best data available, but will never smash, run out of battery or signal, and you'll always have the ‘big-picture’ in your hands.

Lots of people love our maps because they can draw their route on them (you're entitled to a free pen with every map sold) and simply refresh by bunging the map in the washing machine. 

And how many maps could you use to filter-out pollution as you ride?

There's a number of new ideas and maps kicking about for 2014 – what are the highlights?

It's funny, on the one hand maps are a technology as old as the hills, and on the other there's so much innovation around maps.

The human desire for a tangible tool to show them the way, one that is easy to gather around, one that serves as a memento of a memorable journey isn't going away. That's the niche SplashMaps can fill and why we make a great gift. But rest assured we keep our finger on the pulse of geo-innovation - we're proud to sponsor #geomob, a regular meet-up of map-geeks in London at which the best speaker is awarded one of our personalized SplashMaps.

How can dealers get in touch with you for a chat about customising their own?

Bike shops are buying our personalised maps in bulk now. This means they can put their URL on the map and cover their local terrain. We make beautiful maps bespoke for events, including the huge events in Yorkshire, London and the Peak District. 

Please contact david@splashmaps.net with your ideas and we'll make a dedicated map with your logos and your routes in a beautiful style. We are no-longer restricted to Great Britain, for off-shore stores. 

35 highly popular areas in Great Britain are available at a scale that gives you a huge area to discover and very clear navigation cues if you're on or off-road.

Splash Maps: 07876 390656

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