Not a long time ago I moved (again) to Berlin after working on oratio and ChatbotConf for the past three years. It took me some time to get settled as it was definitely a challenge to find a decent apartment. But thanks to my friends and their support, I was able to finally move into my new home in Neukölln.
On the professional side, I started working as a freelance product and business developer for companies of different sizes, supporting them executing their product and business strategies as well as innovation processes. You didn't know such a job position existed? Well... me neither. But here I am.
To be honest, I never imagined it to be so rewarding when applying the knowledge I gained over the past decade on various projects for different clients.
However, throughout the previous years I have always been building my own products and ideas – which is now a different situation for me as an external consultant for ongoing product development.
After a few weeks in I realized that I want to run a side project. Something where I can try things out on my own. This little something I have in mind is a specific idea I had for quite some time.
Already back at university, I co-founded a local NGO called IdeenTriebwerk. Its goal was (and still is!) to connect students and startups in my Austrian hometown Graz. I always enjoyed building communities and as a constant traveller, I realized that meeting like-minded entrepreneurs is always a pleasure and sometimes even great ideas emerge out of such encounters (or night-long pub crawls.)
A few years back in 2014, I bought the domain coffeecircle.co. Despite being an impulse buyer of domains, I thought it sounded nice and back when I purchased it I had a service in mind that would somehow connect people with same interests. Years passed by and just recently I picked up again the idea of actually building this service. This is going to be my side project.
- People are matched in circles of three (because two are a date, three are party!)
- Matches are currently based on three fields of interest
- The service is currently only available in Berlin
- I discovered a coffee company (from Berlin!) was registered under this name, hence I changed it after gaining initial feedback
Instead of going all-in and building the product and its features I have in mind, I first wanted to better understand if there was an actual need for such a service.
Although I can do a little coding myself (at least enough to create awesome landing pages), I remebered that I had seen a quick and easy micropage builder on Twitter. I found it, signed up and in just a couple of days I launched a prototype. My good friend Susann helped me promoting the website along with posting it on a few selected communities.
The feedback we gained was consistently positive. We personally talked to about 30 people in tech as well as 15 non-techies after we promoted ‘Coffee Circle’ on /r/BerlinStartups and on a local coworking Telegram group.
In about 5 weeks we gained 23 submissions of which we matched 6 circles of 3 people each. As far as I know, 2 circles already met with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
I know these numbers are considerably small and merely reflect qualitative feedback rather than being a strong quantitative indicator, but in my opinion it’s worth to further investigate on the idea, which I will do in public on this blog.
My vision for ‘Coffee Circle’ is to enable people building connections online as well as offline, meeting like-minded entrepreneurs to mutually inspire each other. Achieving this vision through circles is just the beginning.
My mid-term goal for the next 12 months is to see circles matched in every major tech hub in Europe and the US in if the idea continues to gain positive feedback. Focusing on entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts is a promising starting point as I have experienced the need for such a service myself in the past.
Coming from a business-to-business (B2B) background, I instinctively asked myself how such an idea might earn money, what is its business model? I had many thoughts around that and I personally think that business-to-consumer (B2C) applications can best be monetized indirectly. I have a few thoughts in mind that I want to share with you over the course of the next weeks and months.
What to expect
I will commit around 4 hours / week to this side project which results in about bi-weekly updates. To share the progress with you, I will create short articles on this blog as well as on InstagramTV (IGTV) and YouTube.
I think having both an article to read and a video to watch on your way to work is a perfect way to stay up to date. To not miss out and be sure follow me on:
- How I built the MVP without coding
- A new name and identity for ‘Coffee Circle’