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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The 10 Years in beta party was also the official opening of betahaus | Neukölln. Spring was the perfect time for our new project to start growing. The Club Lounge started filling, amazing new teams joined the community such as LAUDO, Obst Digital, Wonderwerk, Trybe and The Zeitsprung Project. Our Gil became the Lord of the house, giving hugs to everybody, fixing all kinds of problems in the ‘haus and keeping it run smoothly with the rest of the Front Desk team. This was also the month when we launched our beloved weekly yoga classes guided by our dear Cynthia from Arrive Yoga.
" People matter! Community was always what we were all about. ‘’
In June we launched #PeopleInbeta - our monthly blog post series in which our Content Manager - Vihra interviewed teams and freelancers from the betahaus community to present the variety of creatives we have in ‘haus, to understand their missions and get some useful advice for our audience. We talked on topics such as sustainability (with PlanA) , decentralized digital identity (with JOLOCOM), curated music experiences (with Bespoke Sounds), freelance photography (with Sara Herrlander), full-stack development (with Obst Digital), design (with LAUDO) and much more.
In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ.
Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture.
Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails.
This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.
‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)
''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’ - Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus)
This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.
Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.
One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.
This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.
We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.
Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.