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The Origin Story

Since we announced Volentio less than 24 hours ago I’ve had a load of people ask me about the origins of the name, and that’s not social media clickbait – I mean genuinely at least ten people have asked. I love stories about how companies are named so here is the story of how Volentio got it’s name…

Back in the 2000s I worked on a project for Hutchison Whampoa / Three UK on a socially-aware mobile phone – the idea was that my company had a bit of technology called Presence Broker that tied together the user’s social media profiles and created a socially-aware contacts list in the phone. Remember this was before the iPhone even existed so that sounds like a simple concept today.

Presence Broker never really went anywhere with Three and they spun off their socially-aware handset project into the INQ range of handsets – I actually worked with INQ on a few minor internal things and it meant I ended up with some prototypes of their first phones. Inside the injection moulded plastic battery cover of one prototype was a little maze and the inscription “NIL DIFFICILE VOLENTI” (which I think ended up being changed to “AUDACES FORTUNA LUVAT” meaning “fortune favours the brave” in the production version).

Nil Difficile Volenti (sometimes Nihil Difficile Volenti) essentially means (according to Google, I’m not a latin specialist) “Nothing is impossible to those who want it” or “Nothing is difficult for those willing”… it’s basically a Latin / Roman “live, laugh, love”.

20-something me thought that it was a great sentiment for the struggles that come with a startup, even if it is owned by one of the largest companies in the world, and well over a decade later when thinking of the name for our new agency, and having founded several companies called Impossible Something (telecom, mobile, research etc), I thought back to that inscription in the back of a prototype mobile phone, and decided to call the new business Volenti. I registered the domain and just started referring to it in my head as Volentio… which is a much better name in my opinion.

And that is the somewhat long-winded story of the name Volentio. I hope adding the O on the end doesn’t change the latin meaning to something horrific.

As a bonus story, and thanks for reading this far: when I was trying to come up with the name for my one-man mobile network that was eventually called Impossible Mobile, I wanted to come up with something quintessentially British. This was during the height of when “Keep Calm and Carry On” went viral and I tried to brainstorm what we Brits are most known for… Blitz Mobile… too many negative connotations with the war, Crumpet Mobile… just no… let’s face it; everyone knows that us Brits are known globally for our love of Tea… that would be perfect… it sounded so perfect in my head… like it was MEANT to be a mobile network, and for around ten minutes… inside of my head: my new mobile network was going to be called: Tea Mobile 🤦🏻‍♂️.

You will be pleased to hear that I have an amazing team of people around me now that are responsible for branding.

Photo by Pablo Gentile on Unsplash