Why did you start the initiative ‘Top Talents Under 25’?
I founded my first own company at the age of 17. That was Skills4School GmbH, which developed a learning app for students. The company grew relatively quickly and investors joined in. And because it went so well, I’ve decided not to start studying right away, but instead work full-time at the company. At the same time, the desire to exchange ideas with other young people arose. I looked around and noticed that there are many awards in the field of entrepreneurship, but what is lacking are corresponding networks and formats, especially for the group of people under 25. I was 19 at the time, that was two years ago. Even at ‘Forbes 30 under 30’, the majority of people is between 28 and 30, so I thought to myself: Why not set up a network like this myself? That’s how the idea for ‘Top Talents under 25’ came about.
The famous Gen Z – what distinguishes this generation?
I believe that for this generation the purpose is crucial. It focuses on the motive: Why should I do this? What is the meaning and purpose? So it’s not just about making money, but about adding value. This can be seen in initiatives such as ‘Fridays for Future’ or ‘Black Lives Matter’, which are very much driven by young people. They have an urge to use their time wisely. I would say this is one of the main characteristics that makes this generation very different from the previous ones.
Why should companies take this generation more seriously?
It is the future! This generation is a new target group and is more present and self-confident today than in the past. Their user behavior is completely different. Take the example of the bank: The traditional bank is satisfied with its customer service. 80 percent of Generation Z, however, says: “We don’t need customer service at all”. What is much more important is that the app’s interface works on their smartphone. In some cases, their parents’ bank simply can’t offer this, so they migrate to other providers. As a result, the companies lose the crucial target group, the customers of tomorrow. This is why a company cannot afford to ignore this generation completely.
‘Top Talents under 25’ started the second round this year. What was the biggest surprise for you in the applications?
For the first time, the award was global; before that, the talents came from the DACH region. That created an incredible dynamic in terms of topics and projects. We had applicants who were working for better agriculture in South America, for space research in Africa or cancer research in India. It has changed my perspective once again. For example, I spoke to a woman from South Africa via video call, who is campaigning for more women’s rights. I asked her if she could turn on the light. She said that she has no electricity at home and can only charge her smartphone once a day when she is in town. That was a real ‘aha’ experience: She lives in completely different economic circumstances, yet she has the same ambition, the same passion to carry out her project. And this is where the question arises: What actually distinguishes a candidate? Talent alone is not enough. You have to have the discipline and the will to implement the whole concept. Those stories have particularly excited me this year.
Next week, we will be posting Rubin’s favorite ‘Top Talents under 25’ videos! You’ll get the chance to know the Top 5 contestants and get thrilling insights on their passions and projects – Stay tuned!