• Austria's news in English

The social media startup creating communities

The Local · 6 Nov 2015, 10:17

Published: 06 Nov 2015 10:17 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The site is all about establishing local contacts and tapping into the sharing economy. Locals of all ages were quick to sign up when it launched in May 2014, and it now has around 17,500 members.

Having recently won a grant from a group of business investors, the four founders can now afford to pay themselves a modest salary and have taken on their first employee. “We’re really lucky that we found investors who want to make a profit from the business but can also see the social benefit it has - and are keen that that should increase,” Theissbacher told The Local.

In terms of generating revenue the idea is that local businesses and councils can create an online profile on the site and will pay to talk to people via message boards, promote their goods and services and offer discounts to locals.

Their first customer is Lokale Agenda 21, an organisation supported by the City of Vienna which works on building community and is a perfect fit. “We support and publicise their local events which are aimed at creating more life in Vienna neighbourhoods,” Theissbacher said.

Frag Nebenan is organising a series of neighbourhood social events for November 12th - all part of developing its 'real life' presence.

Theissbacher is adamant that Frag Nebenan will never have classic banner ads and won’t be involved with any political groups. It also discourages any unfriendly communication on its message boards and removes users who break its house rules.

“We’ll never be a classified ads site - it’s all about keeping it local and making connections with people who live a few streets away - who are within ten or 15 minutes away, by foot. It’s about finding someone who can walk your dog when you’re sick, or pick up medication for you from the pharmacy. Or maybe you need to borrow a household item or want some gardening advice.”

Frag Nebenan members celebrating the site's first birthday.

Before starting Frag Nebenan Theissbacher studied international management and communications and worked for Datum magazine and then as assistant to the CEO of Austrian listings site Bazar.at.

He loved his job but says he was searching for something that would give him a “greater sense of purpose”. What he came up with was a project that aims to transform neighbourhoods into communities and combat the problems of urban isolation and segregation.

He grew up in a small village in Carinthia, and although he has a wide friendship circle in Vienna, he realised he hardly knew any of the people who lived in his apartment block - let alone his street.

For him it was the ideal time to develop a startup as “at the moment I don’t have a family, or any financial obligations, and I’m still young enough to be happy living a student lifestyle with few outgoings.” He started out working on the project in his kitchen but soon moved to Impact Hub - a co-working space and events centre in Vienna’s 7th district - where he met two of his team members.

“Impact Hub opened a lot of doors for us. We made really useful contacts, who helped us set up meetings with potential investors, and we won a stipend which gave us free office space, among other things. We also got support from the Wirtschaftsagentur which gave us free coaching on how to apply for grants.”

Frag Nebenan's website is constantly being updated, with new functions added every week, but at present it only offers about 50 percent of the functionality Theissbacher would like it to have.

An English version isn’t available - yet - but some members do post questions in English and expats in Vienna have also told Theissbacher they find the site helpful for improving and practising their German.

Long-term, his plan is to establish Frag Nebenan in every major city in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'UFO' sightings in skies above Vienna and Graz
File image of an alleged UFO. Photo: Flickr/Dimapolo

Worried Austrians called police and posted videos online after sighting a UFO-like device above the capital Vienna.

Austrian police rescue 47 puppies from animal smuggler
Photo: Landespolizeidirektion Burgenland

Austrian police have seized 47 puppies found in a car at the Hungarian border.

Call for FPÖ chief's Facebook page to be shut
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The Austrian lawyer who filed a criminal case against the leader of the Freedom Party for inciting hatred has called for his Facebook page to be shut down.

Female terror suspect 'planned suicide attack'
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Police have arrested the wife of a Chechen terror suspect after they found evidence that the pair were planning a suicide attack in Austria.

'Death must be Viennese', and not just at Halloween
Prater amusement features memento mori. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Dominik Creazzi, "Paranormal Investigator" embossed on his jacket, strains his ears among the decaying tombstones of Vienna's central cemetery, the last resting place of three million mortals from Beethoven to "Rock Me Amadeus" singer Falco.

ECJ puts brakes on deportation of Iraqi family
Photo: ORF

An Iraqi family threatened with deportation has been granted a brief reprieve after the European Court of Justice recommended they be allowed to stay in Austria for the time being.

Flats evacuated after man swallows explosive substance
A decontamination squad was ordered in. Photo: MA 68 Lichtbildstelle

A block of flats in Vienna had to be evacuated after a suicidal resident swallowed a highly toxic and explosive substance.

'Horror clown' threatens bus driver in Vienna's Donaustadt
Pennywise, the original scary clown from the movie It. Photo: Warner Bros

A man disguised as a ‘horror clown’ threatened a bus driver in Vienna’s Donaustadt district and vandalised the bus.

Man lived with body of murdered lover for weeks

A man has been arrested in Graz after police discovered the body of his girlfriend hidden in the shower cubicle of their rented apartment.

Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available