ZOLLHOF Talent Program: You Learn so much — Especially about Yourself!

Interview with Jule van de Logt by Paula Kopp

“Growth happens outside of your comfort zone”, says former ZOLLHOF Talent Jule van de Logt. During her bachelor’s studies in International Business at FAU she was working in project management at SIEMENS. While she’s always been interested in the startup scene she had nothing to do with it. Out of curiosity — and despite the benefits of working for a corporate firm — Jule eventually applied for the ZOLLHOF Talent Program. When she got accepted she quit her working student job and set out for new shores. Currently she’s pursuing her master’s in International Information Systems at FAU while working as Scrum Master at A.I. startup VITAS where she couldn’t be any happier.

I sat down with her to discuss her path into the entrepreneurial ecosystem and she told me about her experience as a ZOLLHOF talent, her new job at VITAS and why she loves working in a startup environment.

The Talent Program opened new doors for Jule

Hi Jule, nice to meet you. You took part in the Talent Program from April — June 2021. Why did you apply?

I’ve always been interested in the startup scene and due to ZOLLHOF’s close ties to FAU I was familiar with the program.

I’ve been wanting to apply ever since I started my bachelor’s but I was caught up in my routine. Eventually I stepped out of my comfort zone and my curiosity towards the startup scene won. I wanted to know what it’s like to work in an entrepreneurial environment.

However, to be honest I still hesitated before applying. I thought you’d have to be able to program and that the opportunity was only for developers. Turns out: it’s not.

What would you say you have to bring to the table if you want to take part in the program?

I did the Talent Program during my first master’s semester. I wish I’d done it earlier. You learn so much — especially about yourself.

I guess a business background and some work experience won’t do any harm but generally I’d say there are no specific prerequisites needed. If you’re interested in innovation, motivated and want to amplify your horizon: Just try and apply. I can highly recommend the program!

Also, Max is great at matching team partners that compliment each other.

What was working in your team and at ZOLLHOF like?

My team partner Daniel Geiger and I worked together really well and I enjoyed the atmosphere at ZOLLHOF. Even though we had to work remotely a lot I immediately felt integrated into the ZOHO team. We took part in the weekly meetings and when we came to the office Benni and Chris were around a lot and always happy to talk to us.

What practical skills did you acquire during the three months?

Our task was to develop a digital administrative folder for HUK Coburg. I really got to know the rapid prototyping process and how to use Figma. In my master’s UX and business classes the acquired knowledge really helps me to grasp the content better and there are many topics that I’ve heard of before thanks to the Talent Program.

The program offered me an insight into how businesses think and during our project we quickly realised the importance of a customer centric approach. Just because you think something is cool doesn’t mean the customer thinks so too.

I also adopted a hands-on mentality and was impressed by the fast development and constant iterations we made.

How did you benefit from the program personally?

I got more confident, especially on the phone — I used to hate calling.

One of my favourite workshops was the Entrepreneurship & Purpose Workshop which helped me figure out what I (don’t) want. It shaped my future in a way that I realised I want to be successful but at the same time give something back to society. Being happy at work is the most crucial factor for me. Money plays a less important role.

And of course: thanks to the Talent Program I got my job at VITAS.

VITAS offers a voice assistant based on A.I. The startup was founded in 2017 and has meanwhile grown to 17 people. The team sits at Zollhof 7. Can you spot Jule? Source: @vitas.ai

Tell us more: how did you end up at VITAS?

One of the founders, Thomas Abend, wanted to implement Scrum at VITAS. I had two courses on the method in university and a scrum certificate. After we connected on LinkedIn we met for coffee. I knew they were looking for working students but I didn’t expect much. Well, our casual coffee meeting turned out to be a proper job interview. Thomas was especially interested in my experience with Scrum so I told him everything I knew and got the job offer as Scrum Master the same day.

Scrum is a methodology in software development which focuses on self-organisation. The teams work in sprints and after every sprint they meet to review/plan the last/next steps. Project planning tools give the opportunity to work independently towards a common goal. There are different roles: Product Owner, Developer and Scrum Master. Learn more

You are the Scrum Master, what do you do exactly?

I basically attend the meetings and supervise that the process is correctly followed by the developers.

In the beginning I also did a Scrum workshop with the whole team which they all really enjoyed. We prepared cocktails within sprints — it was a great team building experience and everyone was open to the new approach.

This really surprised me, I guess I still had a bit of a corporate mentality in me, I didn’t expect people to be so open towards new methods.

What are the main differences between corporate and startup mentality?

I feel like in a big company the workshop wouldn’t have succeeded the way it did at VITAS. I expected everyone to just wanting to continue working like they used to. This is what I love about working in a startup. Everyone is open for change and things don’t take a hundred years until something finally happens.

Chances are, that when you transfer from a big corporation to a startup, you will experience some sort of cultural shock. Luckily, the Talent Program prepared me for my job at VITAS, where everything moves so quickly.

I’m fascinated by the founders, especially by their motivation and ambition. In our team everyone is working for the same cause and it’s amazing to see that everybody wants to build something. You can really feel this spirit at the moment since we’re working on a new product that launched in November.

That sounds amazing, could you imagine founding your own startup?

I don’t think so. Some of the other Talents in my batch were eager to become entrepreneurs themselves. They were surprised when they realised how complex it is to start a company and how many fail. That didn’t really surprise me, I knew that not every startup is a success story.

I think I’m too cautious to be a successful entrepreneur. I have a lot of drive, which is an important quality for a founder to have. However, as I’m always 100% behind what I’m doing, I stress out a lot and it wouldn’t line up with my overall goals.

Thank you Jule for the interview and all the best for your future — we’re excited to follow where your journey will take you!

Paula works in Marketing & Communications at ZOLLHOF and is studying International Cultural and Business Studies at the University of Passau. When she’s not writing blog or social media posts you’ll probably find her writing on her bachelor’s thesis in American Cultural and Media Studies.