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There are around 15,000 of them to be found across Germany: Deutsche Bahn’s rental bikes are available around the clock in 50 cities. Renting them couldn’t be easier: register on the app, log in, find the nearest bike on the map – and off you go. In Frankfurt, cyclists are now also doing some good at the same time: as part of its "Become a Cyclist Donor" campaign in the Rhine-Main region, Deutsche Bahn donates SocialCoins for every bike rental – a fictitious currency created by the start-up Particulate. The Koblenz-based company operates the donation platform in the Open Telekom Cloud, Telekom's public cloud solution based on OpenStack. SocialCoins can be donated on the cyclist platform to selected projects and the good deed can then be shared on social media. As soon as the donation target has been reached, Deutsche Bahn will transfer the amount. It’s just one great example of transparent social engagement that makes the customer a brand ambassador.
"Our customers always ask for data protection and data security. That's why we looked for another cloud solution that meets these high standards."
Stefan Pandorf - CEO Particulate
The three founders, Stefan Pandorf, Stephanie Henn and Stefan Fink, had already come up with the idea of combining marketing with social commitment during their studies. "We wanted to offer companies an effective marketing tool and harness the entrepreneurial potential of donations," says Pandorf. "After all, social engagement and sustainability are becoming more and more important. Many customers are increasingly choosing a company that is socially engaged when purchasing a product.” That's why Particulate offers individually designed platforms to each customer – most of which are companies in the financial or energy sector. For example, a bank can credit any number of SocialCoins to its new customers when they open an account. The customer then goes to the bank's donation platform and redeems their SocialCoins for a selected project, such as a fundraising campaign to buy new jerseys for a football club or for the expansion of a playground.
Initially, the Koblenz-based company relied on other cloud providers. They tested Amazon Web Services (AWS) and developed platforms with the German cloud provider ProfitBricks. "However, our customers always ask for data protection and data security," says Pandorf. "That's why we looked for another cloud solution that meets these high standards." In addition to secure data storage, the founders wanted to be able to scale the solution flexibly, for example when user numbers suddenly increase.
The founders learned about the Open Telekom Cloud through Deutsche Telekom's TechBoost program. Since then, the start-up has been using IT resources from Telekom’s public cloud offering. The start-up uses compute instances with 2 CPU and 4GB RAM to operate and develop the donation platforms. As access to the platforms increases, Telekom’s Auto Scaling service automatically adds resources. "We can see this in action in Frankfurt with the 'Become a Cyclist Donor' project," says Pandorf. "For example, when the Frankfurt suburban railway tunnel is closed, many commuters switch to Deutsche Bahn rental bikes – and the number of visitors to the donation platform increases enormously in a very short time. Within just three months, 12,000 euros have already been raised for social projects. 5,000 users from the Rhine-Main region have already participated in the fundraising campaign. The team never has to worry about outages: Deutsche Bahn’s cyclist donation platform continues to run stably and securely in the Open Telekom Cloud and as a result Particulate is always able to deliver.
"The Open Telekom Cloud allows us to enable all our customers to handle large volumes of traffic of 600 requests per second. This would not have been possible with our own servers," says Pandorf. The start-up has already used up to eight virtual machines at the same time. Particulate stores the data in the secure and inexpensive Object Based Storage (OBS). If the founders have any questions about the cloud architecture, a competent Deutsche Telekom contact person is always available. "The partnership with Deutsche Telekom is always a winning argument for our customers," says Pandorf. "Deutsche Telekom simply has a good reputation when it comes to data protection and data security. This helps us a lot when it comes to marketing our idea."
The start-up would like to expand its cooperation with Deutsche Bahn from the Rhine-Main region to the whole of Germany and also offer other companies individual donation platforms with new functionalities and a connection to further services – all with the flexible and stable IT resources from the Open Telekom Cloud.