The Regional Hero start-up from Wedding has been championing regional businesses since mid-2020 with its B-Card voucher card and making them fit for the future via digital solutions. More than 800 businesses and large employers in the region are now taking part, including eBay and Babbel. More than 10,000 Berliners already have a B-Card.
The Italian restaurant around the corner, the independent clothes shop across the street – small and medium-sized businesses were hit hard during the COVID crisis, even in the ever-vibrant capital. Yet it is precisely these businesses that give their quarters that certain something.
B-Card stands for Berlin Card and serves as a city voucher. City vouchers are nothing new on the market. „We have rethought the whole topic. B-Card is regarded as the city voucher 3.0. Our approach is to connect all the players in a region via this ‘city card’ and thus jointly strengthen the region. That includes, for example, local businesses, the catering trade, small shops and manufactories. In short, it is the players who make a region unique and provide people’s favourite places. Because we started as a non-profit company, we still have that social component in our DNA,“ explains managing director and co-founder Pascal Schreiber. The B-Card, whether in physical or digital form, carries an interactive network deposit for all participating regional regional businesses.
With their non-profit project Helfen.Berlin, start-up founders Pascal Schreiber and Gregor Arndt began successfully supporting small businesses in the capital. The two entrepreneurs offered favourite place vouchers to mitigate the impact of the initial lockdown on Berlin’s retail sector.
This successful project gave rise to the idea of expanding the voucher system and using it commercially, independently of the pandemic. The aim is to strengthen the local economy in the long term and sustainably through Regional Hero’s technology.
In short, the money should remain in the city. „Globalism is good and should not be demonized either. It’s the mix of globality and regionality that makes it work,“ Schreiber clarifies.
In addition, small and medium-sized enterprises are to be made fit for the future. This includes convincing small businesses of the benefits of digitisation and incorporating it into everyday business life.
This is how the B-Card works
If there is any remaining credit when the card expires, unlike with many competing providers, half of it is donated to a local non-profit organisation instead of being retained.
Berliner Sparkasse supports Regional Hero
Berliner Sparkasse is famous for its commitment to start-ups. Regional Hero is also a Berliner Sparkasse customer and receives comprehensive support from it. „Berliner Sparkasse, for example, coached us for three months at the Symbioticon, the hackathon of Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe.“ A hackathon is a neologism made up of the words hack and marathon and refers to a collaborative software and hardware development event.
„With our idea of ‘#Cashtags’ (using funds for specific purposes to bring companies together), we were able to take second place in the finals,“ Schreiber proudly tells us. Other co-operations, such as Red Week, also connect the young company with the traditional Berlin institution. And among other things, Regional Hero won the special award with their digital solution at the Berlin Brandenburg 2020 Innovation Award, which is supported by Berliner Sparkasse.
Big players help small businesses via B-Card
Regional Hero also provides support for small businesses via larger businesses that are doing well financially despite the COVID crisis. Employers at larger companies can provide their employees with a B-Card as a gift, free of social security contributions. The well-off companies thus help to keep the city so diverse and attractive. This also makes Berlin attractive for expats and employees from other regions – meaning the large companies not only make a charitable contribution, but also benefit themselves in terms of their potential employees. „In this regard, you can see very nicely how the different players can work together to make more of a difference,“ Schreiber said.
Participating stores that leverage the B-Card pay a commission of 6 per cent per charge to Regional Hero, but also benefit from increased online visibility and better Internet rankings on key channels through the B-Card platform. This includes advertising that Regional Hero and its media partner rbb 88.8 place as well as events in the quarter.
Where can I get a B-Card?
The B-Card is available in digital and physical form and can also be used via its own app. The card can be ordered in the online shop or purchased at favourite places that act as points of sale. Munich already boasts its own counterpart to the B-Card, the Minga-Card. One wish of the entrepreneurs for the future is to expand the offer to other regions and even Europe-wide.
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