Today the ragtag band of Barcelona imports better known as Berlin’s “KLASH team” has released their very first version. This news may come as a delayed surprise to anyone who’s been knee-deep in the Berlin startup bubble for the last dozen months. In a lengthy stretch of beta, the KLASH gang has enjoyed (and, to their credit, challenged) more pitches, Silicon Allee breakfasts, conferences, meetups, thinkups, and chewups than your average tech blogger.
An app that lets you dare your friends into doing crazier shit
I first met the KLASH team one night last fall at Webmontag, the Prenzlauerberg mainstay for up-and-comers who either want to pitch, ask nosey questions of those who pitch, or drink that German beer with the yeast at the bottom. I usually fell into the latter group, chained to an outlet and mild sobriety under the attack of DIY business cards.
In this state, I met Alessandro Pettrucciani (classic cashmered Italian) and Alex Napetschnig (a gangly, red-haired Austrian who would soon pop out a Mozart chocolate from Vienna). In a conundrum of energy and ideas, we talked about advertising and the potential of turning ourselves into self-effacing brand advocates.
Then came the team’s first pitch: In a swan suit
A couple weeks later the KLASH team pitched for the first time – dared into wearing the signature swan suit (which I recently wore last month while moderating an exit panel at TOA with Fabian Heilemann and Christian Nagel). Presenting unfazed, Alessandro set KLASH’s example of articulate self-deprecation, generating laughs as well as respect for his irreverent, big-hearted team of new kids on the block.
Five co-founders hailing from Turkey, Austria, Germany, Italy and Argentina, the KLASH team met in Barcelona at ESADE Business School where they were all studying for their masters degrees (recently ranked 7th globally by The Financial Times). Putting their heads together, they decided to move on a whim to Berlin.
So what does their app let your do?
KLASH’s app lets you dare your friends into doing stuff they might not otherwise do – from guzzling chilli sauce to running a marathon to giving up smoking. When you make a dare, you promise a reward, and the person dares chooses to accept or not. “It’s all about having more fun in life,” says founder Napetschnig. “Encouraging people to act like no one’s watching.”
Leveraging Facebook’s open graph, the intuitive interface asks you to select friends from your friends list, as well as to encourage bystanders to root alongside. “The social pressure created from the community is an amazing engine,” co-founder Baris Tame insists. “The goal is to get people out of their comfort zones.” You can challenge as many people as you want, from one friend to all of them.
Masters of homemade marketing spiels? And now what?
Long before the app got to the store, the team had already managed to market it with a quickly solidifying brand of mischief and a series of homemade marketing spinoffs. They got us wear their stickers, put on their swan suit, and share their nearly viral videos almost every time they entered our Facebook feed.
Jason Calacanis was not shy in calling their nearly naked presentation “the perfect pitch” after one co-founder appeared in a mankini on the Berlin vs. London edition of This Week in Startups. Because every antic is predicated on a Klash, you can’t really say they’re fooling around. They’re doing their job, using their app and showcasing its purpose.
Community engagement on a bootsrapped budget
They’ve also succeeded in effortlessly engaging the Berlin community, asking Facebook fans to weigh in on blatantly useless decisions like whether Alex should walk around Pappallee in another mankini, to which he later reflected with mock gravity: “It was super-hard for such an conservative Austrian.” They were a welcomed shot of positivity at the recent TOA (Tech Open Air), where they greeted guests in their signature swan costume and “hugged over 400 people”.
They’re creative and experimental, with a good-hearted, albeit juvenile, sense of humor. A recent video created by Marco Woldt, former employee of the BBC in London who recently moved to Berlin, circulated across Facebook yesterday with impressive speed and interest. “We have no money and are bootstrapped so of course we don’t have money for something like that,” Alex told me when I asked him: “We just recommended him to a lot of people.”One of their shortest videos calls itself “not too crazy but fun”.
Their blog is unique for a company blog — reflective and wordy, a toothy blend of what events the team attends, what’s funny to them, their campaigns and what they cook. One mini campaign: “Things to Do at Least Once in Life” encouraged people to follow joggers around in their cars blasting “Eye of the Tiger for encouragement.
While it might not change the world, it will make you laugh. And that’s the point.
Is funnification of our lives enough for KLASH to make it onto our relatively outdated iPhone screens? Let us know what you think below…