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The Team

Teamname: socialbnb

Members: Nils Lohmann, Alexander Haufschild






Start-up: socialbnb GmbH
Founders: Nils Lohmann, Alexander Haufschild
Mentors at university: Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla DIez, Marc Kley, Frederik Lindner
Founded in: 2021
University at which you study/work and faculty(s):
at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

What is your idea about?

The social impact startup socialbnb is developing an online platform that connects travellers with social and ecological projetcs or social businesses around the world. We offer their unused spaces as overnight accomodations to travelers who want to travel in a more sustainable and authentic way. By staying overnight on site, the projects receive a sustainable source of income apart from donations and can thus finance their valuable work.

This supports projects in the field of environment and animal welfare, as well as education, equality or health. Meanwhile, travelers have the opportunity to have an authentic and local travel experience, to immerse themselves in local life and to learn more about the respective project. In this way, we create a new form of sustainable tourism that benefits everyone. Founded by Nils Lohmann and Alexander Haufschild, socialbnb is based in Cologne in Germany.

Global tourism is responsible for numerous negative ecological and social effects. Often, the local population in the destinations rarely benefits from tourism revenues.

With socialbnb, we have created a platform to change this. Travelers can book accommodation offered by social or ecological projects on socialbnb.org. From the revenue generated by the overnight stays, the projects can finance their work in the field of nature conservation, education, equality, animal welfare or health.

Travelers get an authentic and unique travel experience, come into contact with committed local people and travel off the beaten track.

How did you get together as a team?

socialbnb was created as part of the Enactus student initiative at the University of Cologne. This is where Alex and Nils met and developed the concept behind socialbnb together in an interdisciplinary student team.

How did you come up with your idea?

In Cambodia we met the tuk-tuk driver Seng Chanty. Seng wanted to build a school in his village to provide free English lessons for children. However, his social project lacked the necessary donations. 

Together we developed the idea of renting out the empty rooms of his house to travelers and letting them participate in the daily life of the village. Within three months, so many travelers visited Seng that he was able to build the school and hire an English teacher from the income.

The idea of using the enormous power of tourism to fund sustainable projects stuck with us. Alongside our studies, we continued to pursue the idea over the years in a growing team. 

After overwhelming feedback from various projects and travelers, Alex & Nils from the team decided to found socialbnb as an independent social business

What are you studying/working or what have you studied?

Alex completed a Bachelor's degree in Geography and Media Cultural Studies and focused on the role of NGOs for the development of the Global South in his Bachelor's thesis. He gained work experience in the field of international development cooperation at Engagement Global, where he maintained the online presence and conceptualised marketing campaigns. 

Before his studies, he successfully completed a traineeship at a public relations agency in Cologne and worked for three years as a freelancer for the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger and the WDR. Therefore, he has many contacts to media representatives and has continuously focused on communication within the field of development cooperation and sustainability. With his experience in both fields, he is in charge of public relations, PR and marketing at socialbnb and forms the management team together with Nils Lohmann.

During his Bachelor's degree in International Business, Nils focused on cooperation with international markets with regard to sustainability aspects and social entrepreneurship. He then gained practical experience at a start-up in Mexico. Here he was able to experience the strategic development and was mainly responsible for business development in the form of opening up new markets and follow-up financing. 

He was also active at BASF and KPMG, where he acquired new clients and advised companies on the strategic implementation of sustainability aspects in their business model. He speaks fluent German, English and Spanish, as well as good Portuguese and French, which enables him to collaborate on an international level.

What has Gateway ESC helped you with?

Gateway ESC has been with us since the first steps to develop socialbnb from student project to a international start-up.

Both the legal advice and validation of the business model, as well as the support and mediation of experts and coaches from the most diverse fields were super important in order to be able to develop socialbnb to this point.

In addition, Gateway ESC is a place for exchange between like-minded people and other start-ups, from whom you can learn an incredible amount and support each other.