Stephanie Frost and Hanna Lutz just came home from university when they founded their startup Vostel in 2015. Frost had studied business administration, Lutz Stadtplanung.
The Berliners originally wanted to open a sustainable hostel where tourists can volunteer. The concept did not work. Instead, the founding duo started a platform where they connect volunteers with organizations. “At that time, we were not taken seriously and smiled at from all sides. Especially because we are women and have just graduated, “says co-founder Lutz in an interview with Gründerszene.
Today, the Berlin-based founders employ eleven employees in a joint office in Neukölln, claiming that more than 300 organizations are their partners and have provided more than 8,700 helpers.
The special feature: Vostel would like to address not only German volunteers, but also expats, Erasmus students and tourists. About 60 percent of Vostel members are not German native speakers, says Lutz. And just under three quarters of users are women between the ages of 18 and 34 years.
On the platform, members find homework assistance offers, clubs are looking for volunteers to decorate their shop windows or to moderate a radio program. So far, the startup offers its services in Berlin, Cologne and Munich, from April also in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and Darmstadt.
Your company has built up the founders completely self-financed. In order to pay their employees fair salaries, Lutz and Frost have deliberately decided against a non-profit association. V
ostel finances itself primarily with white label solutions. Companies like Zalando use the software to provide a volunteer program for their employees. Zalando employees, for example, are allowed to volunteer for up to 16 hours a year during the job, and are given two days off during this period. According to Lutz, about 15 percent of its employees use this offer.
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For the technology of Vostel the customers pay an annual license fee, which depends on the firm size. In addition, the startup earns its money with social team events that it organizes for businesses. Co-founder Lutz does not want to reveal how much Vostel is implementing with his B2B business. Only so much: The startup has been profitable since the second fiscal year.