It was dubbed their hackday of destiny – and a year on, the team behind Vamos decided to repeat their social experiment but this time with a twist. Back in early 2012, some 40 friends and family made their way to Berlin for a weekend of hacking in an attempt to prove the concept of what was to become Vamos.
And it worked. The event discovery app has since become one of the more talked-about startups in Berlin. And so the founders returned to the same venue last weekend but, rather than people they knew, invited 28 Swedish students to help them discover ways of taking Vamos to the next level.
The space in the Hackescher Höfe is pretty conducive to creative thinking; a bright, airy loft overlooking the street and one of the courtyards. For co-founder Luis-Daniel Alegria, it was a delight to be back where it all began. “Last time we did the hackday it was to get a kick start,” he said, “ to validate the project to see if it was worth pursuing.” That first event was a runaway success, resulting in a prototype, design, business plan and some PR and communications ideas.
He added: “Now, one year later, we are trying to get into the mindset of how we are going to monetise this and make Vamos a more mature business, and how we can add value for users and event organisers.”
To that end, 28 students from Berghs School of Communications and the Monterosa mobile agency in the Swedish capital – several members of the Vamos founding team, including Luis, are Swedes themselves – jetted over to Berlin courtesy of Lufthansa, who provided free flights. Their brief was how to promote a new subscription for Vamos allowing organisers to gain followers as well as enabling users with an interest in particular venues to keep up to date with what’s going on there.
Splitting into eight teams, the students worked on concepts, business ideas and communication strategies. At the end of the weekend, they all presented their projects, and a winner was chosen.
The winning idea, Luis said, was to make online music posters more interactive: “It’s about taking it to next level – poster 2.0.” The idea involves merging posters with existing content to make them more interactive; for example through the SoundCloud or YouTube content whose links are already on the poster.
So what was it like to be back, considering all that has happened in the last (almost) 12 months?
“It was amazing to see,” Luis said. “Before, no one at the hackday was really sure what direction it was going; this time it was a bit different, the students had heard and seen a lot about Vamos and were super excited to be a part of it… the social experiment that we started last year has continued and evolved, and that is what excited me to see these 28 students there, in the same place.”
Lufthansa’s input is also interesting – the German airline recognising that the route between Stockholm and Berlin is becoming increasingly popular as a startup shuttle (no doubt partly due to the German capital’s many Swedish entrepreneurs, jokingly dubbed the ‘Swedish startup mafia’) and making return flights available for less than €100.