Safe on the road: female student further develops KommGutHeim app

March 11, 2021

Katharina Hochmuth, a master's student at the University of Stuttgart, is working on the KommGutHeim app alongside her studies. New features offer more security on the road.
[Picture: Photo-Studio Büttner, Regensburg]

Many people know it: the uneasy feeling you get when you're out alone at night. Katharina Hochmuth felt the same way when she moved to a larger city for her studies in 2013. When she was out after dark, she often talked on the phone with a flatmate to feel safer. "At some point, I wondered if there wasn't a better solution. But at that time, there was no live location transmission or emergency functions on the smartphone. That's why I developed the idea for the KommGutHeim app with my co-founders Tim Hautkappe and Mario Pfaller," Hochmuth says.

Striking a balance between studies and start-up

Hochmuth and Hautkappe continue to expand the start-up to this day. Hautkappe, who studied mechanical engineering, works full-time on app development, while Hochmuth simultaneously pursues her master's degree. She has been studying technology management with a focus on product development at the University of Stuttgart since 2017. She is currently in her last semester and is writing her master's thesis.

The student explains how difficult it is to combine studies and start-up: "The studies tend to take place in the evenings and on weekends. I actually work full time for my own start-up. It's already very stressful," she says. Nevertheless, the content and methodical approach she learns in her studies help her with app development. In her master's thesis, for example, Hochmuth is developing a method for integrating customers into the product development process for digital products, with a focus on mobile apps. She is testing this method using KommGutHeim. "It's knowledge transfer: I acquire content in the master's thesis, which I then apply to the company. In turn, I document my findings in the master's thesis," explains the 27-year-old.

She is also in regular contact with Eric Heintze from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research at the University of Stuttgart, who acts as a start-up coach for founders. He supports Hochmuth and Hautkappe, for example, by networking them with other startups at the university.

What's new about KommGutHeim

More than 80,000 people worldwide now use the app. To improve functions, speed and energy consumption, Hochmuth and Hautkappe have added new technology to KommGutHeim in recent months. "We've also developed new emergency features," the student says. In interviews with young women, she says she found that many want a loud alarm to deter offenders. "The new effect sounds similar to screech alarms," Hochmuth explains. "When you click the emergency button, the alarm sound goes off and a stored phone number is alerted."

Hochmuth is particularly concerned about safety in the dark in the evening. She says users turn on the app on their way home from friends or parties. Since the Corona pandemic, however, many also have the app accompany them digitally during sports, such as jogging. That's why the student and her co-founder created safety tips. In consultation with experts such as the police, the two have developed tips on topics such as how to ride a bike safely, how to defend oneself in the event of sexual harassment, and where to get help. The articles can be read in the app or on the app's website. "We want to fill the app with more safety-related content," Hochmuth says.

For the future, the app founders are also tinkering with hardware integration. They want to integrate a button that is connected to the app via Bluetooth. This click button could be carried in a jacket pocket, for example, and in an emergency you would only have to press the button and not open the app again.

Challenges in app development

Hochmuth manages product development and design at the startup. She also coordinates areas such as marketing and organizational matters. Her co-founder Hautkappe handles technical tasks. Besides technical challenges, monetizing the app is the biggest challenge, the student says. "We want to make most of the app available for free," she explains. "It's difficult to find the right monetization model and still offer as much security as possible for free." That's why Hochmuth and Hautkappe are looking for regional advertising partners across Germany to support KommGutHeim's continued development.



This image shows Melanie Minderjahn

Melanie Minderjahn

M. A.

Research Associate, PR Manager

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