Call me a whippersnapper if you have to, but when I was a teenager, Facebook wasn’t the social media place to be. We used IRC-galleria, which in all sincerity was a horrible hotspot for adolescent headaches, but at least it was handmade by Finns, for Finns. Now everywhere you go, Facebook has taken over.
Except in Latvia.
Latvia’s internet is dominated by Draugiem, which is the largest operating social network in the country. In 2012 Draugiem accounted for a billion page views per month, or in other words, 44% of the entire country’s internet usage (seriously). The website launched back in 2004 and unlike in nearly every single country you could imagine, on a national scale, Facebook pales in numbers comparison with Draugiem, Facebook having roughly 370 000 Latvian users compared to Draugiem’s 1,2 million users.
Large numbers attract piles of money and in this sense Draugiem is no exception: the company generates an estimated $20 million annually, which has resulted in the company’s substantial growth in recent years.
Today, Draugiem is the flagship of an authentic Latvian startup incubator, operating under the Draugiem Group banner. Their offices are home to over 100 employees working for 16 different tech startups, which is no small feat in a country as small as Latvia.
The Draugiem Group ecosystem has brought to light many interesting projects during its existence, some of which in a way haven’t followed the traditional path of creation: the facility’s sheer size has stemmed needs, and since funding isn’t just any distant dream, they figured they can solve these needs by building up the solutions themselves. And if they needed it, there’s certainly a chance others will, too.
Luckily, Draugiem founders and Draugiem group main owners, Lauris Libertis and Agris Tamanis, seem to be an innovation hungry lot. They’ve kept the cash-taps open for tech development and production, keeping the doors wide open for new ideas.
Such is the case with 1work, a Draugiem Group sub-project which combines a multitude of technologies with aims to benefit shared office spaces. Put in use originally for the Draugiem Group office, 1work has steadily picked up momentum, changing from a local office solution to a globally available SaaS product.
Think of it as a modern iPad receptionist who does all sorts of odd jobs that facilitate office life. Think meeting room bookings, inter-office message board, colleague contact info catalogue for Skype, phone and email; screens that can be configured to display all mentioned information throughout the office. Additionally, 1work includes specifically built sensors that monitor air temperature; CO2 levels and bathroom occupational status, as well an iPhone and Android application, which can be used to complete and follow all those actions directly from the app,
1work was launched in Beta in February of 2014 and currently it has 118 offices signed up as Beta testers, all of which has been easily made possible due to the contact grid a large office of over 100 employees has attracted around itself.
Soon enough (in September), a payment system is to be expected, where Beta testers will enjoy a hefty discount.
In conclusion, it’s formidable to see a prevailing tech-startup community that originates from a social network, in Latvia. We’re eager to see what other cool projects will come from Draugiem Group, but in the meanwhile, our six startup office needs to score an iPad and try a bit of 1working.
Check out the Draugim HQ through this photo-rich article on Officesnapshots and 1Work in the video below