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From team spirit and crate of wine: founding in times of Corona

ChatWerk 1 year
The start-up ChatWerk has been digitally full throttle for a year

Home office, digital working methods and meeting marathons. Everything virtual and without cookies. The pandemic has completely turned the working world of many people upside down. Others, on the other hand, don’t know anything else. Like ChatWerk. The start-up brings companies, whether small or large, to chat with their customers. The kick-off meeting of the young team took place in the middle of Corona midsummer 2020. Online of course. Now, almost exactly a year later, the ChatWerkers have met live for the first time in the full round.

A field report on the advantages and disadvantages of working digitally

Messenger communication for medium-sized businesses. Simple, clear and affordable. With this mission, Oliver Kremers founded ChatWerk in August 2020. The corporate start-up is part of the Müller Medien family, known among other things for the Yellow Pages, The Public and The Telephone Book directories. After five months of intensive preparation, the product comes out: a smart inbox for WhatsApp & Co. Then everything goes very quickly. The messenger service was already integrated into over 850,000 directory entries in spring and is establishing itself as a fixture in messenger marketing. ChatWerk now serves cross-sector customers all over Germany who have sent over 160k messages via the platform since go-live.

Recruiting 4.0. Querbeet in Germany

This success was mainly made possible by a team that works very well. Even without a shared office and classic routines. Here it paid off that the founder relied on digital working methods right from the start: “Good people are few and far between and do not necessarily come from the region. I was able to search for ChatWerk directly across Germany and concentrate fully on people’s skills. ” It is also possible for him to respond to the various life situations. For example, from young parents who often want more flexibility in organizing their working hours. “It’s not an issue for us. We coordinate the schedule together. Who then does his or her tasks when and where is irrelevant. This opens up a lot of freedom that everyone here appreciates, ”explains Oliver Kremers, who is himself the father of a school-age child.


Oliver Kremers, CEO of ChatWerk
Putting innovative strength into the product

His previous remote experience helped him when setting up the workflow. The online marketer is used to commuting and traveling a lot. Transparency and short distances are important to him. You don’t have to reinvent the world to do this, he says: “We don’t develop anything of our own to work in a team, but use sophisticated solutions such as Slack or Google Business Tools. We prefer to invest our creative energy in the further development of products and customer service. ”

Having fun

He also knows that the challenge grows with the size of the team. The four-man start-up team has grown into eight permanent employees in one year. All from different cities including Berlin, Dresden, Cologne and Saarbrücken. In addition, there is the development team in Poland and a network of free creative people who are also spread across Germany. “Project management tools help, but our way of working requires a high level of self-discipline from each individual,” reports Oliver Kremers, who prefers to rely on intrinsic motivation instead of control mechanisms. Say the fun of it!

(No) team spirit out of the box

That is why he is particularly concerned with the topic of team spirit. “We are a wonderfully mixed bunch, come from different regions and have different roots: America, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Saarland.” (Laughs) Without the common daily business, however, this wealth is lost somewhat. To make up for this shortcoming, he set up a kind of online regulars’ table. The idea: Simply send a box with a good wine plus a surprise for everyone and sit together and talk in front of the screens in the evening. “It works pretty well in the beginning, but what is missing is what makes a common chat: the spontaneity, the random threads of conversation between two or three people who are sitting together and suddenly find a common topic.”

A little “old school” is good

The ChatWerkers do not want to do without the networked and thus free way of working. Nevertheless, the first joint meeting in August showed how little replaceable personal encounters are. “It was extremely good for us to meet ‘old school’. And not between the door and the hinge in a packed schedule, but with plenty of time for professional and personal discussions, ”the managing director sums up. The team came out of the event visibly strengthened and highly motivated. So motivated that Kremers is already working on introducing new “old school” tools. That means: regular meetings in different settings – from small topic-related working groups to large joint summer events. “Because one thing is clear: we will remain human and that is exactly the right thing to do.”

> You can find more about this here on our press

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