Amsterdam, november 9, 2023. By: Sarah Cuiper and Ibrahim Alfawal
”Meeting these guys in Italy changed my whole life. And now, here we are, seven years later.” These were Julius’s words during the official launch of the new version of the Welcome app. On October 25, we celebrated the arrival of our brand-new app: ”Welcome app V2”. It was a lively launch with speeches, a demonstration of the new app, Syrian food, and of course, there was dancing too. Additionally, we marked another special moment. Julius, the founder of Welcome app and at the helm for the past seven years, introduced Christina as his successor. She is the new CEO of Welcome app and started early October.
During the launch, Julius reflects on the past seven years. The idea for Welcome app originated in Bologna when Julius was on exchange there. He met a group of guys from West Africa with whom he played football every day. Through them, he learned about the challenges of fleeing their home country. He heard more about where the group of guys came from and how they ended up in Italy. When he returned to the Netherlands, the initial idea for Welcome app took shape: matching locals and newcomers. Julius started with an Excel sheet in his student room, and seven years later, with ups and downs, we are proud of where we stand now.
Since the launch of Welcome app in the Netherlands in 2019, 450,000 connections* have been made on the app. Our slogan is ”connecting what matters” for a reason; our goal as Welcome app is to contribute to creating meaningful connections. Welcome app is used in four different municipalities in the Netherlands, and in three of them, there are communities with more than 200 locals and newcomers. From the start until the introduction of our new app, we have reached almost 100,000 app downloads. Last year, we worked hard on a new, faster, and improved app.
At the launch, everyone came together: newcomers, locals, organizations, and municipalities. Carlijn remarked: ”It was like the app, but in real life.” The various options of the app became clear. Reza found a language buddy to learn Dutch through the Welcome app: “Together we practice some daily life phrases in Dutch”. Khadija, ambassador of Welcome app, her favorite part is chatting with locals: “I started messaging a few Dutch locals and now I am chatting with them about everyday life issues”. Nadiia, Project Coordinator in the Welcome app team, shared what Welcome app means for Ukrainian newcomers: ”Welcome app has changed a lot. It turned a foreign place into a welcoming home.”
In the new app, you can discover many both old and improved features, as well as new ones. Tim, Head of Product, demonstrated what is possible; for example, the helpdesk is available in ten different languages, and all messages are automatically translated. Additionally, there is an information page with questions and answers about life in the Netherlands. If Tim had to choose one new feature to use, it would be the ‘Connect’ feature; with this, all app users can chat with each other, post questions, and respond to each other’s messages.
After the app presentation, it was time for the launch. All attendees counted down from 10 to 0, and with confetti and champagne, the new app was truly celebrated. We proudly look back on the launch and look forward to the next seven years!
Do you want to use the new app too? Download the new app here.
*Connections are counted as chats between newcomers, participation in an activity offered in the app, and questions from newcomers to Welcome app via the helpdesk.