January 30, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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