StartUs Presents: Volunteer World

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In today's edition we present Volunteer World: Founded by Pascal Christiaens this startup aims to change the world through simplifying the volunteering process. Learn more!

Describe Volunteer World in 50 words or less.

Volunteer World is the first independent platform that connects volunteers and social projects on a global scale. The platform provides a community marketplace to compare and apply to international volunteer opportunities. Our mission is to have lasting positive impact on the volunteer market by providing cost and service transparency.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

Felix, Christian and me, the three co-founders of Volunteer World, have one thing in common: We all started in the finance and consulting industry and were searching for a meaningful way to make use of our skill set and knowledge. Build something meaningful is a tremendous driving force and motivates us every day anew to take the risk of starting our own company. As Spiderman’s uncle taught us ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. All of a sudden you need to select, lead and motivate your employees successfully. This is a big challenge you have to take on as a young manager.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

In 2022 the majority of volunteer programs will be arranged via Volunteer World. We will be the focal point for voluntary work abroad and have mediated a large number of qualified volunteers. Through this the volunteer market has become transparent and the application process significantly simplified. Grassroots projects as well as large international organizations have similar chances when competing for qualified volunteers. Following the current trend overall more people go abroad to spend their holidays helping people in need.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

As a social startup our aim is stakeholder value maximization instead of profit maximization. In order to measure our success towards this goal we stay in close contact with all stakeholders. We are planning to have a fully automated feedback system integrated to receive data from volunteers as well as social projects. Trough this we will be able to accurately collect information about two of our main stakeholders and improve our processes.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

Let me start of by saying there is no such thing as a typical day at work, which is one of the reasons to start your own company. Every day is a new challenge and I enjoy the variety of tasks and dynamics that come with that.

However I can say that starting from a certain number of employees the operational processes became one of the main concerns during my workday. Volunteer World currently consists of a team of 9 employees and one of the major tasks is to coordinate their work; especially as not all of them are based in our office. Following the initial launch my focus has also generally shifted more towards process optimization to connect volunteers and social projects more efficiently as well as further simplify the process.

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

Currently Volunteer World is financed by business angles from the IT sector. However our long term goal is to develop a self sustaining business in which we cover our own operational costs. Nevertheless we don’t only have a financial relationship with the business angles behind Volunteer World. They also enrich our team with know-how and networking opportunities to optimize our processes as well as grow our business. We are proud of the partnership and constructive approach that we have with our investors.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

Personally, I’m not too concerned about the startup boom. Volunteer World is not just an idea that we are trying to sell as soon as possible but a passion project with an important cause. Developing and working on the platform will enable many more qualified people to volunteer abroad and make a difference in the life of people in need. Staying in touch with our volunteers and listening to their stories reminds me of this. Making the world a bit better what truly matters and inspires me every day.

What do you look for in team members?

One of the most important thing we are looking for in team members is a passion for the project. Working in a startup is not a 9 to 5 job and often requires our team to work in the evenings or on the weekend. Of course it’s not all hard work and we always make sure that candidates fit into our company culture and enjoy spending time with the team. Generally speaking we are always looking for qualified talent with an interest in social entrepreneurship.

Why would a talent join your team?

As an online platform we are able to offer attractive working conditions. Starting from exciting projects to flexible working hours and the possibility to work from home. Further we offer a relaxed working environment in a modern co-working loft in Düsseldorf, Germany. Not to forget delicious coffee from one of our partner projects in Ecuador.

What was your most memorable moment so far?

The most memorial moment was the day we moved into our own office. We had been working more than 2 years with a small team before which was spread across the globe. Moving into the co-working loft was the moment I realized that my project was taking a big step forward. You should never underestimate the importance of having a physical office. It not only eases communication and coordination, but also fuels creativity and innovation. Moreover, a physical location can be an important part in forming a company culture and lets coworkers get to know each other on a personal level. It makes work more fun and constructive as well as makes potential challengess easier to navigate.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

Make sure you have an innovative and creative team that works well together. That includes everyone, starting from your co-founders to the interns that support your everyday processes. The smaller your team the more important it is that everyone works towards a common goal and your company culture allowed them to offer their creative input towards finding solutions. Further I realized lately how important it is to develop a clear structure and keep optimizing your internal processes. What might work well with two people will not necessary apply to a team of 5. This of course applies not only for your team but also for your product. Any company that aims to work on today’s global scale needs to have optimization as a core component of everyday activities.



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