The story of JodelJul 25, 2019
I’m Alessio, 28, and I am the founder and CEO of Jodel. Whenever I meet Jodelers they always ask me very similar questions. What’s the story behind Jodel? Are you actually a user and if yes, how high is your Karma? What’s it like working for Jodel and what the hell are you guys doing all day?
As I feel these answers might be interesting for a lot of you I want to share them in today’s Community News.
About five years ago, during my studies, I spent a year abroad in the US. At that time I developed the idea of a messaging app for friends but without public profiles. The main social network at the time was Facebook (Instagram was just becoming mainstream in the US and Snap was just beginning to gain traction with early users ). Everyone used FB but almost none of my friends shared anything. I remember one friend who hadn’t posted a status in 3 years, despite logging in every single day. It was all about polishing your image rather than talking with each other publicly. I wanted to create something different. I wanted a place where everyone is sharing again. Where you immediately get a feeling of what’s really happening around you right now.
Together with a few friends we got to work and developed an app called tellM. tellM showed you posts from the contacts in your phone. But it didn’t show you who posted what. Since we took away profiles, we expected plenty of posts about all the random, funny, helpful and intimate things that we care about. We imagined people would finally be able to share again.
When we launched it in the colleges of California, people were super excited about the idea. They loved it! Unfortunately, they didn’t continue using tellM after just a few days. Most of our users simply had not enough friends using tellM in their phonebook. Their feed had almost no activity.
We used this opportunity to talk to many of our early users. In each interview one question dominated: Why do I have to have everyone’s phone number to see their posts? There are lots of people I kind-of-know that I don’t share phone numbers with! Why can’t I just see everyone in my area straight away?
Back in Germany, my co-founders decided to work on other projects or go back to University. We had almost no money left, but after receiving so much positive feedback, I was convinced we were on to something, even if the numbers didn’t show that yet. So I talked to our first main investor (shoutout to Christophe!) to support us to give it one last try.
With Alex (currently working on product), Niklas (currently working on community) and Tim (currently working on monetisation) I found a new team of friends ready to make things happen. Together, we set out to make our updated vision become reality: A super simple app which allows you to instantly connect with the people around you. We worked hard and spent a lot of nights improving ideas, features, launch-plans. Lots of sweat, blood and yum yum soup was involved until we launched our first version of the hyperlocal community app you all know as Jodel today.
Humbled from our first experiences launching a product, we expected a few posts per day for the first 30 days. Maybe a couple of hundred users. But this time it was different: Jodel quickly exceeded all expectations. After only a few days promoting on the campus of RWTH Aachen, Germany (Alex, Niklas and I studied here) it seemed like everyone had heard about Jodel or was already using it. When I saw a guy next to me in the bus casually checking Jodel for the first time I couldn’t believe my eyes…Wow!
From people telling us that Jodel is the craziest name and it can never succeed, from getting cloned and attacked left and right, from almost running out of cash countless times, it’s been an unbelievable journey thus far.
Today, Jodel is being used by millions of people in Europe and the Middle East. Countless travelers and active communities use it all around the world. Always staying loyal to our mission, we have evolved from a few friends, to a team that works hard together to win. Winning here is making sure our hyperlocal communities are as funny, helpful and interesting as possible to as many people as possible. Every day we are receiving so many amazing stories from our communities. Groups of friends meet on Jodel, relationships start here and even Jodel-Babies have been born! Tons of laughs and insider jokes are shared and create a unique feeling of belonging to our local communities. And all of this is done by you, our community.
Our vision is that in the next few years you can open Jodel at anytime and anywhere in the world, to easily talk to and connect with like-minded people right around you.
You will be able to fully explore the city you live in, listen in on all its vibrant communities and connect with your peers. No matter if it’s other pet lovers nearby or the local techno crowd: Jodel allows you to share memes and jokes, get news, ask questions and simply have fun. You can discuss everything from new hypes to modern-dating. Organize help for social causes. And by doing all that you might even get to know new amazing people in your area.
Jodel will be closing the gap to easily share a togetherness with all the people you see in the physical world. As this works in your hometown, so it does when moving somewhere else. Whenever you’re traveling, you can be certain there’s people around you that wonder about the same things. Is it still worth it to go to the FullMoon party here in Ko Pha-ngan or what are the best tricks for negotiations on the Marrakech Market? And maybe, one day, you think about moving to New York so you teleport to its local feed and explore……
We are fully aware that there’s still a lot to do. Jodel has evolved beyond students and some of you think it shouldn’t be this way. We know that sometimes people are not helpful, but rather the opposite. We hear you. But change is the only constant and we are here to make this change a great one. Jodel is the worlds’ hyperlocal community and hyper-local communities are for everyone. We believe that connecting you with your local community can only work with an open system, not a closed one.
We know that rules, systems and tools have to evolve with scale and everything comes with trade-offs. It’s on us to make sure you can have the best experience possible at any time. Communities are living organisms and living organisms have flaws. There’s a necessary discourse to help them evolve. We therefore invite you to share your comments on this article through using #jodelblog in your posts. I will read them all (English, German and Spanish are the languages of choice here 😙). Last, but not least, I can promise you that our team is fully committed to leaving no stone unturned to find out what’s best for helping our communities evolve.
One important piece in the puzzle to do all of the above is to become financially more independent. Right now we can only plan ahead in short periods. Yet executing our vision requires some long-term planning. Therefore we currently focus on making sure we can do so soon. As we are users ourselves you can rest assured: To generate cost-covering revenues we will not compromise on our values, or the quality of the user experience. And despite some people wrongly assuming it, we don’t sell data and we will never do so.
Even though Jodel is growing every day, we are still a company that calls `playful & friendly` one of its core values. We still love discussing and brainstorming about Jodel. After long party nights, a nice dinner with friends or after a football match of the legendary Jodel FC, ideas about how to improve the experience are always a topic. The Jodel team has grown and evolved in the past years. We are experiencing new adventures and learning from new challenges. Using our passion, we are working hard to make Jodel for everyone better every single day. 🧡
Despite Jodel being a 24⁄7 project, I still love to jodel myself, no matter if it’s here in Berlin, somewhere else in Germany or while traveling. Whenever I have some time I open Jodel and love to read your witty stories, join interesting discussions and get in touch with some local Jodelers. And sometimes I even drop a selfie too. If you have seen me somewhere, feel free to comment and we can have a chat ✌️
We, the Jodel team, created the platform and possibility for you to get in touch with others around you - but the true heart of Jodel is our community. You make Jodel to what it is today. So everyone of you is a member of the Jodel team as well. I’m really proud to see what we all created together. Jodel is such an amazing place and I can’t wait to shape the years to come together with all of you.
We’re just getting started.