Justin McMurray is the founder of SomewhereHQ. He has already been featured as the start-up of the week. He recently won the betapitch, so we decided to interview him again. He grew up in Australia and finished school with a degree in Commerce and Marketing in Australia. He afterwards worked for IBM for some time. It took him some time to realise what to do to get fulfillment in his working life. After a lot of travelling all around the world he settled down in Europe. He was living in London for three years, but in the end figured out that Berlin is the more appealing place for him and moved there. One interesting aspect of Berlin for him is the great amount and quality of street art which can be found here. Actually he created a side project for fun, which is documenting street art on the walls of Berlin. He uses the co-working space of Betahaus since August last year.
How did you discover betahaus? How has the co-working space in betahaus changed since you are here?
I don’t remember exactly how I catched sight of betahaus. I searched a co-working-space in Berlin and went to visit a couple of them. Maybe a friend mentioned it to me. My first day in betahaus was quite amusing: Me and a friend of mine walked through the building, looking for the offices and desks. We tried to use the lift to get to the top and it broke down. We thought we got stuck, so it was a bit scary. At least it was a kind of funny first impression of the betahaus.
I started working at betahaus in August last year. It wasn’t that crowded, also there were less events and projects going on. I had a great time working in the team-space in the fourth floor with my two interns. Since that, the betahaus certainly has changed in many ways. There are bigger and more interesting events and projects going on. A lot of improvements have been made.
I’ve met lots of people and friends her. The space it is not just a co-working space, it is a place where people can cross-over between work and social life.
Why did you decide to apply for betapitch? What do you think about betapitch?
It took me some time to consider if I should apply for betapitch or not. In some way it is a super early stage for a start-up. We were just working on it for a few months. Now we have a product and is going quite well. A couple of days before the applications closed I sat down with Christoph (co-founder of betahaus) He told me that he had done several of those betapitches before which got a lot of feedback and resonance. He also told me that the jury was quite strong.
At least we really entered the last possible day and were happy to be accepted. After the pitch was done and the winners had been announced, we really were surprised that we were one of the winners. The other startups were pitching their ideas really strong, too. A lot of great people who have great ideas and do very interesting things. The main purpose of entering betapitch in this stage of the Somewhere HQ evolution was to connect with people and to build a network, not to win the pitch.
The betapitch audience was extremely savvy. They understood that beyond us crafting a beautiful service and helping companies address a big headache, our challenge is to turn invisible information into rich, structured data. Which means that we’re actually cracking the source code of company culture.
How do you promote Somewhere?
At the moment we are focusing on the beta launch which just took place. The main focus is to get small companies on board and to use the service. I spoke with a number of companies and explained what Somewhere HQ is all about. We exist to help people and companies find a social fit. We can be a fantastic alternative to existing recruitment solutions.
When I spoke with companies or start-ups in Berlin, a lot of persons told me that the biggest problem is to find the right employees or (the other way round) company. So when we came up with this concept – creating a social fit – we’ve directly got a great feedback. We approached 30 companies and 20 of them they said they want to be part of Somewhere HQ. Those companies are placed in Sydney, London, New York, San Francisco, Denmark, Sweden, Berlin, France…
That’s one side of the concept. Another one is to create a market place: bringing together an individual and a company. Until now we didn’t try to get the individual on the board or sing up yet, it just happened. People are hearing about us through quite a lot of press or media coverage.
As an individual you can create a profile on Somewhere HQ. You can start showing the real you, as we say. We are reaching hundreds and hundreds people from all over the world.
Does Somewhere has a vision for the future?
We exist to help people to become happier with their work. We’re not making a joint vision statement, we think more personal. We want to help people to find a place where they can be really happy, use all their talents, skills and experience. To make many contributions, so that when they open their eyes in the morning they can really look forward to the day.
We still believe in place. The country where you should be is the most important question.
The “place”, which includes the team, the people, the environment, the working atmosphere, values is really important. If you find a place somewhere where you really feel good, then the rest comes super easy.