Entrepreneur TJ Loeffler was doing some soul searching. After three years of working on Wall Street, he realized he wasn’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder. Finance just wasn’t his passion, he decided. It was faith.
“My faith has been private, but it became more a part of who I was on the outside as I started loving people well and accepting love myself,” says Loeffler, a WeWork Brooklyn Heights member. “Through journaling, I came to a moment of peace with the decision to leave and start pursuing this path of entrepreneurship.”
Loeffler told Jonathan Tamboer—now one of his co-founders—about his plans for a venture of his own: a consulting business to help companies understand the millennial generation. He invited Tamboer to meet with the people he was hoping would finance the startup.
“I thought he’d be a good addition,” Loeffler says, “and then the whole thing fell apart.”
A couple days after Loeffler’s business idea flopped, Tamboer invited him over to talk with him and his wife Kathleen about starting a different company. Tamboer explained that when he was young he had run a popular online site for Christians in the Netherlands. When Tamboer moved to the U.S., he wanted to start a similar platform, but it wasn’t until Loeffler came into the equation that it clicked.
“We care about belonging and the church,” says Loeffler, who met the Tamboers three years ago at a Bible study gathering at Trinity Grace Church in the East Village. “We have the technical skills, sales experience, and design expertise. Why don’t we resurrect this idea?”
And that’s how United Young—an app for connecting Christians to people, groups, and events in the New York City area—was born. By downloading this app, users can find out what’s going on in nearby churches. They can even get matched up with others who have similar interests or backgrounds.
“Church is meant to be much more communal and emotional,” Loeffler says. “But without an invitation to the space, people may not think it’s polite to take initiative and engage with others.”
Just two months ago, United Young joined WeWork through its entrepreneurship program Mission Possible. After working out of their apartments, they found WeWork to be just what they needed to grow their company.
“We see WeWork embodying something we’re trying to build,” Loeffler says, “a deeper sense of community through engagement with others.”
The app, which launched three months ago, is running a pilot program with Trinity Grace Church parishes throughout New York City. After that, Loeffler says, they hope to take it across the city “and eventually across the world.”
The next step, Loeffler says, is securing funding. The WeWork Brooklyn Heights community team has been crucial in helping United Young connect with venture capitalists.
“WeWork has helped tremendously with our productivity, strategy, focus, and general connections to other people,” says Loeffler.