Christoph Fahle
January 30, 2013

Tongr

What is Tongr for?!

Tongr connects travellers, expats and locals, based on the languages they speak. It is a location-based application that uses languages as the common trait to connect people abroad with complementary needs. People who come to a foreign country do not need to feel alone anymore because they can easily find someone who speaks their language right from their iPhone. These people may help each other with exploring the city, practicing a foreign language or in any emergency.

"I got the idea of Tongr when I arrived from Brazil to freelance in Berlin. I needed to get some documents from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit and there was no easy way to contact anybody in here speaking Portuguese to help me with it" 

explains Denis, the founder of Tongr.

How does it work?

We designed the app as a social tool, with some automatic interactions mechanisms to help users with common needs or interest to connect with each other. In the Activity screen you can see what other users are up to and join them. Tongr also allows you to filter people around you according to your language preferences and to look for a nearby language teacher, for example.

While using the app people earn points for interacting with each other and they can exchange them to unlock extra features such as specific interactions targeting or tandem match, which will make the daily life abroad much easier.

  

            

Who is in it?

At the moment we are a two-man company: just the developer and me. We used to work as an intercontinental team, as he was in Brazil and I was here in Germany, but we got the paperwork done and he just arrived in Berlin to deep dive into the work on Tongr. So far we’ve been developing it from our own resources, which keeps us quite free. Simultaneously we see that the time of funding and a bigger team is coming.

What difficulties have you overcome yet?

We face the same problem that most startups have, which is lack of resources, i.e. money and manpower. But the thing that bothered us the most for quite some time was the bureaucracy and the legal paperwork we needed to do to get my coworker to Berlin. We had to spend lots of the funds on this, but we’ve made it.

What are your future goals?

The very close step is to develop the app for Android and Windows Phone, furthermore implement video calls and VoiP. Business wise, we will spread the pool of service providers on the app to help people find what they need, in the language they speak.

We will definitely move towards Asia, since it is the biggest language learning market and also where most of the exchange students come from. The pace of future success depends on the acceptance of the app. The crucial thing is to keep the focus on our main goal: making life of travellers and expats easier, so that they will never be left high and dry when abroad.

Want to become part of the betahaus community? Find out how !

OKAY BUT HOW IS BESPOKE SOUND DIFFERENT THAN PLAYING MY "DISCOVER WEEKLY’’ OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED PLAYLIST ?

Lubomila: The carbon footprint of a company is always involving what's happening in the actual office but it also involves the external partners and choices. We always advise companies to start in-house, looking at what's happening in their office and within their team. As second comes the communication aspect including how you present yourself as a brand and what you communicate to your customers or online followers. Then the final step is actually implementing changes on a product level, looking deep at the supply chain, and checking if all small parts of your product are sustainable - for ex. the packaging, products made with palm oil, etc.

Lubomila: Our focus has been shifted towards actually educating businesses on what is sustainability and helping them connect to actions that can make them immediately more sustainable, and reduce their carbon emission level. This is also where our new tool comes in handy. We have built a platform which calculates, monitors and offsets CO2 emissions, that are created by a certain company and connects them to environments and projects that you can now see on our platform.

Photo by Lea GK

If a company wants to get on their sustainability journey, they come to us and the first thing we do is an initial analysis. We ask them around 20 questions, which gives us an overview of how sustainable or unsustainable they are, we understand what's their emission level on a monthly basis and then we propose to them projects that they can use to offset their emissions. The point of this, and why we shifted is because actually, close to 70% of emissions on this planet are created by businesses. And unfortunately, very few businesses actually have any sustainability strategy. They don't know how to become better and they don't know what they need to do. So, this is where we're helping to kind of giving them an action plan as well as a place where they can immediately support a positive impact.

Vihra (betahaus): We as a company have also worked together with Plan A to create an actionable plan for our spaces and make them more sustainable. They also keep us accountable and support us on our journey. So why don’t you? 
Photo by Lea GK


The way we engage with the music community is something really important for us and honestly, what makes us different than other background music providers. A lot of the background music providers out there have internal teams of maybe five or six DJs that do all of the music for their clients. We aim to connect with the local scene and always work with local DJs. There's some kind of magic in finding the exact right artists for the brand.

And on the flip side of it, when we hire artists, we make sure that the project is also inspiring for them and that they would be interested in participating. We always make sure to pay them well. The whole project creates for them a new income stream that they wouldn't have otherwise.

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound

Yes! This was really fun. The objective with the betahaus "betabeer sounds" playlist was to showcase the community side of betahaus. There are so many cool, interesting people in the betahaus community and we thought a playlist could be a perfect way to not only help bring the community together but also show the diverse funkiness of the communities of Berlin and Neukölln, which is why Hazy Pockets, a longtime local Berlin DJ known for his eclectic mixes, was perfect for this project.

This playlist moves from bluesy 60s rock into surf and tropicalia, picking up momentum into Motown and onwards through some laid back disco tunes. Perfect for the betabeer events betahaus hosts monthly!


YOU’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING THE SUN FAR FROM BERLIN. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES in berlin that YOU MISS THE MOST?

Oh, there are just so many! Like the Imren Grill for instance where you can find the best homemade Turkish food or Das Gift and Gordon which are both run by great music people. Kohelenquelle in Prenzleuer Berg is my favorite local bar (or rather kneipe). To satisfy my  techno / electronic records needs I always go to Hard Wax and one of my most special places is the Zions Kirche steeple, which has an awesome view of the city and a great Weinerei close by. 


You can see me around betahaus. Online, you can always check out my website and listen to our public playlists on Spotify. We’re also currently working on a collaboration with betahaus, so a special Playlist curated by is will very soon sound around the spaces in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. 

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