shoeboxed logo In the 70’s and 80’s of the last century Berlin was a magnet for many artists and musicians. David Bowie was there, Iggy Pop was there, Nick Cave was there and many more. Fast forward to May 2007 and Berlin has not lost its magic yet. 12 former and current students from Duke University pack their bags, cross the ocean, rent an apartement in Schöneberg – a district of Berlin – and start developing a new web service.

shoeboxed team

The result has been launched this week and is called Shoeboxed – a webservice which helps you organise your purchase history online. Instead of using your own email address you use the email address Shoeboxed gives you whenever you buy something online (it is compatible with all online stores) or when you sign up to a stores newletter. Shoeboxed then keeps track of all your purchases and receipts in one convenient place, filters out advertisments and thus frees your personal inbox from unwanted store emails. You also can create shoeboxes to further organize your purchases in groups.

screenshot shoeboxed

While the idea is simple yet brilliant, from our perspective the Shoeboxed mode of production as a case study on how a startup can be bootstrapped is the most interesting aspect – and there are quite a few lessons to learn:

  • it is good to be young. Just graduating from college you have a lot of contacts and are able to assemble a team with a mixed set of skills, you won’t mind living together
  • a cool place helps to attract good people.
  • a foreign place adds both focus and motivation.
  • even better if it is a cheap place to live. Shoeboxed already has received funding, but if a team is committed it should not be a real financial barrier to run the project self funded.
  • a deadline makes sure to focus on the essentials.

There are a few similar possibilities for young founders in Europe like the Seedcamp in London or YEurope in Vienna, but this could be an eye opener and benchmark for many developers who started a project but became stuck in daily routines or for all those good ideas floating around without finding a process to make them happen.

This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here.