Trade tiling for grocery shopping – Zwopr helps connect people to offer neighborly assistance through a smartphone app. For the help provided, users receive credit on their time sheet that they can exchange for help from other users. No money is involved. In our interview, the founders of Zwopr explain how their app works exactly and what they would like to achieve with Zwopr.
Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourselves!
Zwopr: We’re Bernhard and Christian, 38 and 51 years old, and the founders of Zwopr. Tassilo (38) is also one of the founding partners and works at our branch in Berlin. We’ve been best friends for more than 20 years. For the past six years, we’ve hosted a charity event for Kinderkrebshilfe (children’s cancer charity). In doing so, we noticed how unbelievably difficult it can often be to ask someone for help – either because it’s just awkward to ask or because you just don’t know who can help with what. Although the willingness to help one another and our neighbors is deeply rooted in us, it’s often not “accessible.” We wanted to change that – and the idea for Zwopr was born.
Zwopr is “a kind of digital swap meet”
Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?
Zwopr: What use is the greatest willingness to help if it can’t actually be put into practice? We answer that question with Zwopr. We organize neighborly help online – it’s easy, fast and free. You just go to www.zwopr.com or download the app, register and enter what you need help with and what help you can offer in your profile. Then you automatically start receiving suggestions. People were immediately on board with our idea.
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Zwopr: We don’t see ourselves as a classic neighborhood portal. It’s not about recreational tips, but rather mutual help. Like a kind of digital swap meet. That’s also where the name comes from, from the English word “swap.” The concept is quite simple: The focus is on mutual assistance that isn’t remunerated with money, but rather with time. Every user has a time sheet. If you help your neighbor for an hour by building a shelf, sharing your expertise in a chat or taking their dog for a walk, you receive credit for that time, which you can then exchange for help. In most cases, people are helped by other members on Zwopr. But sometimes the help comes from organizations. In return, they then donate a small amount to a good cause.
Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges so far?
Zwopr: We haven’t had three yet. But we’ve only been around for two years. Something that was extremely challenging for us was the peak of the corona crisis. We grew extremely fast during that time and the daily registrations increased ten fold. People mainly asked for help with grocery shopping or childcare. Helping hands were also in high demand for pets. In Berlin, we got a help hotline up and running in just a few days with the German Red Cross. We worked on the platform during the day, jetted to the capital at night, trained Red Cross employees the next morning and then answered questions for a local radio station before heading right back to Munich. It was intense!
“An active startup community that has unleashed an enormous amount of creative energy”
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Zwopr: We’re set for continued growth and want to keep up the pace of the last few months. We’re looking for IT specialists and a CTO as a co-founder to do just that. We’re also in contact with investors and cooperation partners. Retailers, such as hardware stores, are possibilities as are aid organizations or local communities. In one year, we would like to have brought these kinds of partnerships to life. And in five years, we see Zwopr as an on-demand tool for anyone in Germany and Europe when dealing with subjects like smart help and getting help.
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?
Zwopr: Excellent! Particularly in the east of Munich, a lot has happened in recent years in the Werksviertel where an active startup community has emerged that has unleashed an enormous amount of creative energy. We’ve also become a part of it and are located in Werk1, the – as the building calls itself – “most startup-friendly place in Munich.” We wholeheartedly agree and are immensely pleased about being able to benefit from its spirit.
Munich Startup: Skype or in person?
Zwopr: We love being right next to our neighbors and having personal, direct contact with everyone. Things like Skype also have their merit and it’s difficult to imagine everyday life without them. They make communication with our buddy and partner Tassilo in Berlin, for example, a whole lot easier.