Almost exactly one year ago, the smart urban pioneers idea competition was entering its final round. Innovators from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland had submitted their proposals to improve urban living. The public and jury picked myLike, Cabin Spacey, and Urban Affairs – and we check in with the three pioneers to see how their projects are doing a year down the line.
For the past two years, smart has not only championed the best urban cars, but also brand-new ideas that promise to make life in the city even more livable. Back in 2015, the brand’s smart urban pioneers contest invited enthusiastic innovators to submit their suggestions for progressive, creative, or sustainable improvement ideas.
The echo to this call for submissions was impressive: Countless visionaries from all parts of the German-speaking realm decided to enter their own proposals to be evaluated in different, successive phases. An expert jury of five pinpointed ten projects for the shortlist. In the following phase, these projects were then featured on smart magazine, where readers got to pick their three favorites. In total, the contest generated more than 200,000 votes for the participating projects.
In the summer of 2016, the competition’s three finalists – myLike, Cabin Spacey, and Urban Affairs – managed to raise 50,000 euros through coordinated Indiegogo campaigns, supplemented by a total of 50,000 euros in prize money donated by smart.
Now, a full year after the awards ceremony, smart magazine caught up with myLike founder Uwe Hering, the Cabin Spacey team of Simon Becker and Andreas Rauch, and Urban Affairs organizer Jochen Küpper to find out what has changed since their smart urban pioneers success.
myLike – city-based recommendations by friends
What would we be without our friends? Whether fashion trends, restaurant recommendations, or the ultimate travel tips – there’s no reliable source of information quite like our nearest and dearest. At least that’s the premise of myLike – an app that allows friends, acquaintances, and influencers to share their local tips and recommendations.
The app’s clear advantage over competing recommendation schemes: it’s privacy settings. Users are free to choose who they share their must-know tips with.
“We’re drowning in information,” says myLike founder Uwe Hering when asked to explain the concept. “So, myLike only shows tips by people our users already trust. These recommendations help us discover a new city – or even rediscover our own.”
Since receiving the smart urban pioneers award, the myLike team has not been idle: It didn’t take them long to reach their crowdfunding goal of US$ 20,000 and app uptake is on the rise – at the time of writing, 15,000 users have downloaded the myLike app.
“The award has definitely boosted overall interest and awareness – in the start-up scene and beyond. We made several new contacts, especially press- and media-related ones. And for our partners, the award is a hallmark of quality,” Hering adds.
Cabin Spacey – the micro home prototype is a go
So-called micro homes have been bang on trend for a while. Like many of their peers, the tiny house architects behind Cabin Spacey plan to populate unused urban spaces – like the roofs of residential buildings – with comfortable and well-designed living capsules.
Yet Simon Becker and Andreas Rauch’s plans go beyond mere reappropriation of urban space – most of all, they want to promote a new urban lifestyle, including a range of different services tailormade for busy urbanites: from video and music streaming right down to a matching mobility package.
“The micro home product is just one facet of our business concept,” states Becker. “Overall, we are pushing for a dynamic, flexible, and independent lifestyle that blurs the boundaries between living and travelling. That’s our declared niche.”
Over the past year, the start-up has fine-tuned its core product, a prototype of their new micro home, and established a corresponding manufacturing network, flanked by plenty of PR and marketing. What’s more, the duo’s smart urban pioneers-initiated crowdfunding campaign easily hit the envisioned US$ 30,000 benchmark.
“For us, the smart urban pioneers award proved incredibly valuable,” underscores Becker. “It generated a huge media response and lent us a great deal of credibility. This has proved extremely important: When smart awards a prize, it highlights the recipient’s seriousness and trustworthiness. The added financial support on top really helped to pave the way for future success: Before smart urban pioneers, Cabin Spacey was a project – afterwards, it became a professional concept. It was a fantastic kick-off and starting point.”
If everything goes according to plan, Cabin Spacey will soon expand across Germany and Europe – our fingers are firmly crossed.
Urban Affairs – enlivening the cityscape with festivals
Filling vacant lots and spots in the city through interventions large and small – that’s the mission of Urban Affairs, a festival treating Berlin to creative event and installation variations since 2008.
Coming third place at the smart urban pioneers competition, Urban Affairs combines urban engagement with a decidedly artistic approach. “Art is the key to attention,” according to Jochen Küpper, one of the festival’s organizers. “With our event series, we want to showcase art, convey knowledge, and generally activate the urban community. I guess being part of smart urban pioneers has, most of all, boosted our outside image and perception.”
In recent years, Urban Affairs has breathed new life into Berlin’s Stadtbad Wedding, transforming the closed public baths into a permanent exhibition and event location. “In addition, we also stage regular smaller art happenings and workshops, including Brave New City,” Küpper continues. “Another major success would be the new urban art round table, which was instigated recently by Berlin’s senate as a welcome hub for key actors from the city’s urban art scene.”
The next incarnation of Urban Affairs – dubbed the Workshop Edition – is planned to take place across various locations across Berlin with a focus on workshops, performances, readings, and discussions dealing with the themes of space, city, and people. Right now, Küpper and his team are in the middle of negotiations with the owners of a large Berlin site that would be perfect for the festival’s opening.