Christoph Fahle
January 30, 2013


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.

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A centralized platform, hub or network for similar companies, could do the trick to fill up the delivery vans & trucks that are barely loaded. Parcels could be distributed more efficiently between different companies and their delivery vehicles.

Like a big pool of parcels from different companies with every single parcel going into that one van with the same route!

Delivery Driver Experience and Smart Delivery Vehicles are also areas with huge potential for improvement and innovation.

Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company. 

Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.

Next to that on-demand experiences have become firmly embedded into people’s everyday lives - be it a mobile app to book a ride, send flowers to your loved ones or order lunch to your office. It’s all possible and has made premium features like real-time tracking a standard.  The online consumer expects nothing less and certainly doesn’t like to wait.

Making that quick and instant gratification happen is another story though. Groundbreaking ideas and innovations are needed to tackle all these factors. Does your startup have one? 

Then head over to our Future Logistics Challenge! Applications are still open until September 23rd.

Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.

Ellie: I eat a lot in cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.

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