A location based platform for every host who wants to offer a lively community

Distant Grounds Application with Processing

Hellonaut is an in-house social platform for any host wishing to enable their guests to network with each other and access helpful information regarding activities. Obvious applications include hostels, small festivals, co-working spaces and bar camps. In a hostel, for example, the platform connects travellers (users), the hostel (hosts) and entrepreneurs from the tourism and gastronomy industry (local companies). Problem and solution were developed with the help of user analyses and different methods from approaches such as "Lean Startup" and "Design Thinking" and implemented in a prototype. In the meantime, the project has been supported by the incubator program of the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences. At the moment, Hellonaut's first MVP is in active and honorary development. In close cooperation with Typedigital it is implemented as a native React-App.


Once upon a time in the life of 19-years-old Johnny, he decided to quit his job to explore the world and make new experiences... and after a few weeks in beautiful Australia I noticed that the quality of my experiences depends on three essential points. 1. the places I visit 2. the activities I do and 3. the people I meet along the way, which is by far the most important factor of all. Especially for single travellers like me. Depending on the host it is often not so easy. Large hostels are often impersonal and it takes a lot of courage and initiative to get in touch with other travellers. In addition, hostels are often unable to advertise activities and offers prominently. So how cool would it be if I could decide spontaneously between a variety of possibilities, for exactly what is relevant to me and happens in my immediate environment. I am not only referring to commercial offers, but also to other travellers looking for company, or events at the hostel where I can get to know other backpackers... The idea for Hellonaut was born.


How can we offer the visitor the best experience? In the case of a hostel, the question would be a bit more specific: How can we provide the traveller with an unforgettable stay? Which (immaterial) factors determine whether a traveller feels comfortable? How can we ensure that the backpacker has easy access to all the necessary information? And how can the developed solution make a positive social contribution within the fast-paced community? To answer all these questions, the first challenge is to get valuable information about the user. However, this is only the first step. In the course of the project I had to face many other challenges. The developed solution should be economically viable, technologically feasible and pleasant to use ... and is it even possible to develop all this as a single person?


The cornerstone of a digital product that is technologically feasible, economically feasible and at the same time triggers a desire in the user is qualitative research. I conducted interviews, created a large number of personas, divided them into different groups and determined their influence on the service. On this basis, I was then able to focus on further challenges: Branding, User Journeys, Business Model Generation and the GUI. I documented all results in a 160-page document and created a clickable prototype of the service. In order to implement the results in a real app, I consulted experts and got to know the agency Typdigital. Within a short period of time, the partnership that started out as a consulting partnership turned into a close cooperation. Together we developed the technical implementation of Hellonaut and defined the necessary technologies and database structures. As an interdisciplinary team, we benefited from expert knowledge in areas such as design thinking, UX and UI design, technical implementation know-how and in-depth project management skills. Hellonaut is currently still in active volunteer development. The focus is not only on the final product, but also on learning and exchanging knowledge.


The users of the platform are divided into three user groups: User, host and entrepreneur. They all benefit from each other and thus from the service that connects them. In the following we look at Hellonaut in the use of a hostel. As an ordinary user (traveller), Hellonaut makes an unforgettable hostel stay possible for you. You will receive all relevant information: From the best concerts and pizzas in the city, to tourist activities, to your Roomate who is still looking for a partner in crime. And if you can’t find the perfect thing to do, share your own ideas with the community and spontaneously start an adventure in the best of company. As a host (hostel) you profit from satisfied guests, digitalized processes and additional income through recommendation marketing. You can also reach your guests more easily and ensure that activities and offers do not get dusty on the analogue pinboard, but are noticed. Now you offer your guests not only a bed to sleep in but real experiences! And as a local entrepreneur, you reach a relevant target group that is close by and usually willing to spend money. Travelers are often short on location and difficult to reach. With Hellonaut, you can draw their attention to your company when they are nearby and are considering your offer.


For the implementation of Hellonaut we use contemporary and powerful technologies. Hellonaut is a platform that can be made accessible as a web application or native app. For an MVP, we initially focus on a native app because it can send push notifications and increase the likelihood of long-term use. Furthermore, native apps convince with a higher performance. Here we work with React Native, a Javascript framework for native apps. We manage our data and individual functionalities such as creating an account with the help of Firebase, a development platform that provides us with powerful functionalities that are particularly interesting for prototypes and MVPs.


Hellonaut started as a simple idea on my travels. For several years, the idea only lived in my notepads until I voluntarily began to visualize my first ideas and processes in 2016. Later I picked up these results to iteratively rework them in the course of my bachelor thesis. However, I could not accept the idea to use this work only for an academic purpose and so I stuck to the idea, was supported by the incubator program of the University of Applied Sciences Augsburg and looked for possibilities to test the app in real life. My motivation was above all to create something that satisfies real user needs in real life situations and allows me to experience the whole process of creating a digital product. I was driven by curiosity and the will to learn new things. Fortunately I got to know TypeDigital on my journey, an agency that inspired me and still supports me today with (Hellonaut and) technical knowledge.


The positive outcome, which is in the foreground in the current product status (development of the MVP with React Native), is above all personal growth. To accompany a product from the idea to the technical (almost complete) implementation requires ambition and patience. But this is rewarded with many learnings and interdisciplinary expertise. For example, I benefited a lot from working with TypeDigital and learned new skills in areas such as project planning, database models, code work and developed new solutions together. I am very grateful for that!