How Komoot got going

Three times a year, all 55 employees can pack Komoot’s outdoor app. Put your sports equipment in your suitcase, clean your bike, clean your hiking boots – and off you go: Komoot’s team meetings have a long tradition and always take place in a different location in the world. Sometimes Carinthia, sometimes Italy, finally Marrakech, finally get on your bike again or hike a round. However, Komoot co-founder Tobias Hallermann would not call it vacation. The team-building measure “of course includes one, two beers, but on the job side, there are also workshops and lectures.”

The team could also treat themselves to three or four beers: Komoot, founded in 2010 by six German and Austrian sports enthusiasts, is Europe’s No. 1 outdoor app. Next year, the company will be celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Target group of 8 million users

“The software from Komoot offers the possibility to plan tours in advance on the PC or smartphone. You can choose how you want to master the tour. With the deposited map material Komoot specifies a route suggestion, which can be adapted specifically. In addition to a route, the software also generates a height profile, predicts the duration of the tour according to the selected parameters and makes the data available in GPX format for further use for GPS-based navigation devices. Alternatively, you can also be guided via the Komoot app on his smartphone. “


The project serves a sports-minded target group of 8 million users. All six founders are still on board. Komoot has long since stopped needing investors who inject fresh money from outside: “The cash flow is positive,” explains Hallermann proudly in an interview with LEAD.

An example of how a good idea, consistent with a seemingly well thought-out business plan, can become a long-term success story. Such a way every start-up would like to go.

But how?

Komoot tours
With Komoot tours and pictures can be presented in the community (photo: manufacturer)

When Komoot started in 2010, initially only iOS existed as an interesting mobile operating system. Google’s Android, launched in 2008, was still too insignificant. Hallermann remembers. “Also GPS-enabled smartphones were just at the beginning. But everyone should soon have a GPS-enabled smartphone. “Prerequisite for navigating or hiking on bike paths with software like Komoot. “Our vision was to create easier access to nature.” Half of the team came from Austria or the Allgäu. “Smaller route planners were already on the market, but they had no relevance across Germany. The biggest problem for the Komoot makers: In order to create a central outdoor portal, there was no infrastructure and, of course, the server farms that would be rented on every corner today. “Today it would be easier – with Google or Mapbox. At that time there was nothing in this direction. So we had to build the map servers ourselves. “

Editorial Collections and Community Tour Tips

The investment and effort paid off: Komoot built up a unique selling proposition with editorial collections and tour tips for the weekend. Real competitors did not exist: “Other, especially regional touring exchange platforms had mainly relevance problems. Finding the right one under 10,000 tours is not a good idea. Our concept was to focus on highlights. We wanted to showcase the really beautiful places in Komoot and make sure that the selected bike ride is really worth it. ”

Komoot app
The Komoot app is available for iOS, Android and the Web (photo: manufacturer)

After four years, Komoot was therefore the leading system for wheel-by-wheel navigation in Germany. But setbacks were not long in coming. And they were homemade, as Hallermann admits from today’s point of view:

In 2014/15, Komoot changed its design. Users were no longer able to choose the tours quite normally based on the editorial contributions, but the Komoot makers said they had to follow the zeitgeist: The interface of Komoot now reminded of Tinder. Tour suggestions were given away to the left and right. But the community did not play along: “We noticed that this concept has spoiled our core users. We learned from that. “That one does not have to adapt a successful product to the zeitgeist with all its power.

Rash expansion abroad

Also the first attempt of the internationalization of Komoot went wrong. The makers underestimated the US market at the first attempt. Apple also promeatured the app internationally in the store. Komoot took the opportunity to expand (too) quickly. The outdoor community in the US was structured in a different way, not to cover the country because of its sheer size, as the Komoot succeeded with the homeland: “We took only half the step and then canceled the project.” The lesson: Komoot offers a different version internationally and focuses solely on route planning, not discovering new outdoor activities.

The core product continues to develop a large team continuously: including 26 developers. Komoot particularly benefits from the international nature of the team, says Hallermann. “Many can not imagine that: We are a technology-driven app, with 30 of our own servers, which also smolder on the weekend. Own map server, own route concept – we do not buy anything else, most of it comes from us. And that is an important unique selling point. That’s another reason why we are still leading the way. “

Komoot weather
The Komoot app also provides the weather forecast, so that the big tour does not fall into the water (photo: manufacturer)

From the touring tours sold alone Komoot could not finance, let alone generate profits. For example, the team has developed in-house advertising formats that tourist associations enjoy using frequently. The associations can present the most rewarding routes and tours in their region. A separate Komoot editors team of up to 20 editors checks the relevance as well as the reliability of the information. However, the core task remains to constantly improve the content and create new added value over and over again and to be “close to the user”. Komoot also regularly conducts user interviews: “We work closely with our community. and want to understand what moves our users. “Komoot will also benefit from the” massive trend towards eBikes “in the future, explains Hallermann. Hundreds of thousands of Komoot users help to implement their touring suggestions (reviewed by the editorial team) in Komoot.

Remote concept as the foundation for success

55 employees work at Komoot, but not all directly at the headquarters in Potsdam. Only the core team is based there. There is hardly any fluctuation. Many employees are located in European cities and are only connected from there when it is necessary to discuss further work processes. This remote concept is a cornerstone of the success of Komoot, says Hallermann. The big advantage: Komoot committed in this way international experts “on a high level”, “good people who find the Komoot theme exciting”. The commuting between workplace and place of residence is no longer necessary, the international employees do not have to move to Germany to work for Komoot.

Komoot route
Hiking, cycling, biking: three outdoor trips and three individual maps (photo: manufacturer)

But three times a year, all Komoot employees meet in one place. “That’s the benefit for everyone,” says Hallermann. And the 10th anniversary of Komoot next year? Is there then the big party? “There’s nothing planned yet,” says co-founder Hallermann. “Maybe we will do something in the summer.” He also does not know exactly when the founding date was: “I think the beginning of 2020 should be the 10th Birthday.”

As a Komoot employee you do not have to worry about the jubilee party: those who have been so successful in finding the right routes for 10 years will certainly be able to effortlessly navigate to their own big party …

Have a good trip!

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