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Next-Level Venture Clienting @DB Schenker

Ronja Stoffregen, Head of Global Startup Management

“Make sure you actually solve the problem and make sure you know your audience. By that I mean know who's your champion inside the organization.”

In this episode, we are delighted to welcome Ronja Stoffregen, Head of Global Startup Management at DB Schenker, co-author, and lecturer at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. Together with Ronja, we dive into the world of venture clienting and explore how DB Schenker has embraced venture clienting, moving from 'push' to 'pull' and transforming its relationships with partners. Ronja also shares insights on how to ensure pilots deliver tangible results and provides real-world examples.

So what are you waiting for? Tune in and gain actionable insights from this informative and engaging conversation about Venture Clienting and DB Schenker's innovative journey.

Below you will find the full transcript for the episode.

#PowerofNice and #Bebold

Chris: Hi, and welcome back to Innovation Rockstars. My name is Chris Mühlroth, as always, and in this episode, I am truly excited to welcome Ronja Stoffregen. A few words about Ronja. So she is currently the Head of Global Startup Management at DB Schenker. She's also, what I learned from her socials, she's a co-author and lecturer for the study program Digital Business at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. And I found two hashtags. Number one is #powerofnice, and the second one is #bebold. So I'll make sure to include a question about this. But Ronja, first of all, thanks for joining us. It's a pleasure having you on the show.

Ronja: Thank you for having me. I'm excited for today.

Chris: Alright, so as always, we start straight away with a 60-second introduction sprint. The idea of this is really to have you, you know, 60 seconds about you, your career, and also your current role. So I do have a digital stopwatch. We're going to add this in post-production. So for the next 60 seconds, Ronja, the stage is all yours. Let's go.

Ronja: All right, well, moin and greetings from Hamburg. Yes, so for the last two years, I've been heading the global startup activities for DB Schenker and here I'm every day inspired by collaborating with my team with a goal to push new innovative solutions into the co-organization. As a side hobby and privileged hobby I call it, I'm pursuing my PhD in the topic of when and how startups pivot their business model. So always happy to discuss further on that topic. And then a little fun fact perhaps before we deep dive into our work too. Since 2017 when I graduated from my masters in Copenhagen, I have lived in Hamburg - yet I never had a job here. And when it's warm, higher than 15 degrees, I like to take it to my motorcycle. That's it. Hi, everyone.

Chris: Oh, motorcycle. Didn't know that. That's pretty cool. All right. Now, let's get, you know, just a little better. And to do that, I have three sentence starters. Ronja, I would like to ask you to complete those sentence starters. So the first one is like this. In my journey, my greatest source of inspiration has been so far.

“I had the privilege to actually find passion in the work I do. And once you had it at one stage or project then you know you're missing something when you don't have it anymore.”

Ronja: This is a tough question. And sometimes you want to hear people etc. But I'm going to go with passion because I had the privilege to actually find passion in the work I do. And once you had it at one stage or project then you know you're missing something when you don't have it anymore. So as soon as I had passion in my work it just felt like I wanted to get things done, and I never watched the clock again. So I would go with passion and purpose.

Chris: Beautiful answer. Okay, okay, that's fair. Number two, my least favorite part about collaborating with startups is what?

Ronja: To me, it is the lack of professionalism. Simply because I know that there are a bunch of really brilliant founders, et cetera, but yet sometimes I'm missing the basics and that gets frustrating. Because I know everybody tries their best to get the job done, but sometimes if just the basics are missing, that combined with an attitude, you know, makes it sometimes pretty hard.

Chris: That is very candid. Okay, cool. And number three, if I could give one piece of advice to startups looking to collaborate with larger companies, except for being more professional, what would it be?

Ronja: To me, it is when I'm talking to startups and I can tell that one, they're not too invested in actually understanding the product or problem or solution or process we're having. Then I truly can say, well, you guys need to better understand the problem. You need to understand your audience. And it starts with startups coming over and saying, hey, we have great oat milk for train rides. And I say, well, that's great. Please let me know if you got it inserted into the bistro, but DB Schenker is not part of the personal train rides. So yeah, I mean, that's just one extent, right? But to me, it's really knowing your problem and making sure that you're actually solving a problem.

Chris: Yeah, so in a not-so-nice way, getting their shit together before they actually contact you. That's a thing. Yes, I agree with that. But of course, one of your hashtags is #powerofnice, so you probably wouldn't say the same sentence as I do. But also, #bebold. I found both of them on your LinkedIn profile. And how has that philosophy impacted your professional career?

“Every day I want to be a lead by example and be there for my clients, but also for my team and for myself. And then I just started to say, okay, be bold because you got this.”

Ronja: Well, Power of Nice is pretty straightforward, I would say. Yet, there's more depth to it. So first of all, let's take it for how I want to collaborate with my colleagues, with startups, with people in my stakeholder, in my ecosystem. I want to make sure that there's a candid yet open but also valuable part of communication because we all just do this because we want to do it not because we have to do it so this is the power of nice when you look at it from the basics but then also and I don't want to deep dive into this topic but then being a young professional woman who kind of nailed up many of things already in their career and also this goes also my private life right. It is sometimes, you're standing in front of those persons, I'm not going to persona them, where you just know like, what the fuck, this is not respectful, this is not the way I want to be treated, this is not the way I want to handle life, and this can be just going in a grocery store, this can go in a cafe, this can also be in a work environment. And so here, with a bunch of women kind of like similar to my profile with whom I studied, et cetera, We always say well if they go low we go high so taking on the high note and kind of I'm a quote person so also like power of nice and then kill them with kindness so that's why if they have some issues with themselves we rather focus on our end and not go down the river. So that's why I say the power of nice. That's just kind of how I want to be my own, walk around in my own life. And then be bold is simply, it started actually in the pandemic when I was still working at the company builder we founded in 2018, and I was like hitting the pandemic we have big projects and a lot of things just went unexpectedly south I think for many companies that did especially when you're in an innovation boutique and ultimately, I realized that every day I have to stand up. Every day I want to be lead by example and be there for my clients, but also for my team and for myself. And then I just started to say, okay, be bold because you got this. This is just a short strength of time and then it'll pass. It just kept by it and I love the words there on top of my bed in glitter mermaid tape, so I see that every day when I wake up, and I encourage everyone close and far to just be bold and stand up for themselves.

Next-Level Venture Clienting @DB Schenker

Chris: Yeah, I like that you're very clear about this because this makes it also easy working with you, and at the same time, everybody knows what to expect. So I like the clarity that you're putting into this. Now let's use the same clarity and dive into venture clienting. Venture clienting, Ronja, is an emerging, but for some, even already established concept. Let's start at the very beginning, maybe. Can you explain in simple terms, a few words, a few sentences, what venture clienting actually means and also how DB Schenker has adopted this approach over time?

Ronja: Yes, absolutely. And it's one of my favorite topics, so let's get started. Well, first of all, Venture Clienting, as the name states, is our aim to become a client of a venture. Yet the name has been, let's say, used just within the last one or two years. I would say many corporates and SMEs have been doing the activities that lie behind it for a much longer time than that because ultimately it's just a new supplier that may be more on the riskier side simply because it's still a young company. With that, since 2016, DB Schenker has had a centralized group of people focusing on collaborating with startups. And it started by also testing out some things. Daria, who did my job previously, she had a lot of Greenfield approach, did some investments, for instance, Volocopter, And so it was, let's say, a good mixture of corporate venturing. And throughout the years it just became more professional every year with every project. And so now in the game for seven years we have a clear handbook, clear strategy, structure, process, government's model, clear KPIs, clear, this is it, this is like KO criteria. I would say by now it is a smooth process where we're more and more also gaining that we're not just the cool kids in white shoes, but we're actually, our aim is to create impact for the organization and help them to become the company they want to be.

Chris: And how can you actually, or how are you trying to ensure exactly that, that, you know, pilots or the projects you do just don't remain, you know, you said cool projects or cool things, but actually make a real difference.

Ronja: In simple terms, it all comes down to one number. It's either money saved or revenue generated. So basically, all of our projects can be seen in one number. Yet, this is quite hard to do, right? Because if you, for instance, let's talk about exoskeleton, it helps us to decrease accidents in warehouses simply by helping people to pull up packages, etc. So it's like something that you wear on your body, and then you would help you carry the load. How do you measure that? I mean, at the end of the day, you have to make some assumptions about signal stays and about days that they actually would have been sick otherwise by implementing the solution. Yet it is still pretty vague. So that's why in some of the solutions it's very easy to just put a number and price tag on it, and then we know when it is amortized, but other projects are more on the soft side and here it's more difficult to actually put a number on it.

"In simple terms, it all boils down to one number. It's either money saved or revenue generated. So basically all our projects can be seen in one number. But that is quite difficult, isn't it?"

Chris: But the exoskeleton is a very good example because I mean sure you could come up with some financial metrics, but ultimately, this is directly contributing to employee health and safety, which probably is one, if maybe not the most concern, especially for those people, right? So yes, I agree. I mean, this is super important, but at the same time, you know, you could, of course, come up with some measurements on, you know, sick days, and then how much money do you lose for, you know, because of the sick days. But the real issue that's solving is for the people, for the employees, and making sure they're safe and sound and have fewer injuries, which is maybe even more important than money. So yeah, it's tough for those projects, but they have a tremendously high impact. But maybe the financials are just second order.

Ronja: Absolutely. And I think it's also part of our job to make sure it is not just done to one number. So obviously, it is important that you're prepared, that you have some statistics and numbers so that you can go also on, you know, hard times. And it's certain that innovation is usually one of the first departments being closed down when things get tough. And so then it definitely helps to have some actual numbers. Yet for us, we have many different KPIs, for how we measure our success. Also in terms of operational, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. So those numbers are definitely softer, but yet I think it's good and important that we care about those topics too on the revenue itself. So yeah, I agree.

Chris: Absolutely. And from those KPIs, you certainly can read if you're making an impact and if this is going in the right direction or if they remain some cool pet projects where you might have great technology at hand, but it doesn't make any impact or any difference to the organization. Do you have any other real-world examples of projects you can share how the venture clienting and maybe also the projects or the ventures you're working with have made a tangible difference at DB Schenker?

Ronja: Yes, I'm just going to share with you a couple of projects we're currently piloting or currently just putting into our standard operations, just so you get also an understanding of how wide the spectrum is. So for instance, which has been also big in the news, is everything when it comes to Volocopter, right? So here for us, it's still interesting what is going to be our use case, yet for us it's also important to better understand so that we can truly understand if this is a potential new business unit or not. Then let's continue another big topic, a very successful company, FERNRIDE. Here, although they do not focus on use cases that are particularly relevant for us right now in contract logistics, Still, we do see it was really good to do a pilot with FERNRIDE to understand how this technology works. So for everybody who doesn't know FERNRIDE, it's basically doing truck driving from remote. So simply, you know there's a big shortage of truck drivers for everybody. For us, the average age for European truck drivers is 58. So I know we all like to order from Amazon, but we also need people who drive it to the next warehouse. And that is why there's a huge demand, not just because of the sake of the technology, but actually because of the shortage of the driver. And so for us, it's important everywhere we can decrease the amount of drivers needed, where and how we can implement that with new technologies. So that's why we did learn a lot from our pilot here in the Netherlands. I mean others for instance talk about Flip being very successful in the last years. Flip is, at the end of the day, our let's say mobile app for blue-collar workers, and in that app, you can share best practices you can share "okay this was an accident, so can somebody please help us?". But you can also share fun things. Like "Hey, there's some cake left, come and share it". Because before there wasn't, let's say, a platform for them to communicate other than the blackboard. And since Blue Colours has mobile devices, it has given us a lot of new opportunities to use them as well. Yeah, what else? I mean, we are playing around with Metaverse, we are playing around with video creation platforms for our sales and marketing colleagues. There are a number of use cases that are not directly related to logistics. I mean, we're well aware that there's a lot going on in procurement and legal and marketing. People in an organization or for more human resources. And yet I wouldn't say that those are our priorities. We still - every now and then - find very relevant problems and then look for solutions in that area. So that's my two cents.

Do's and don'ts in dealing with partners and customers

Chris: And there are many more to come. So I have to say, we do record this session in October 2023. At this time, one of the most powerful language models, which is GPT-4, just learned a vision. So it now can basically understand if you give it a picture, this large language model can actually read that picture and also give recommendations on what to do. So if something is broken, you know, a large language model now can be trained to give you a recommendation and maybe even a step-by-step approach and how to actually fix things or how to create stuff, how to build stuff. And this also might be a very interesting avenue going forward. Again, if we listen to this podcast one year from now, this is probably just, you know, as a standard, but it's new right now in October 2023. So I'm pretty sure these kinds of technological advancements will unlock new use cases and also new venture collaborations in that case. But tell me a little bit more about your journey to actually adopt the venture clienting discipline. I mean, when we talked prior to this recording, we talked about, you know, from a push and pull perspective, you shifted this over the years, and this certainly also influenced DB Schenker's relationship with partners and clients. So can you also maybe share some of the learnings, the journey, the learnings, and then also some, you know, mistakes and how you did course corrections over time?

Ronja: Yes, so when I joined in 2021 there were already a bunch of successful solutions and standard operations and I think the team up until this point for the first five years, you know, truly established and implemented the activities without you know then no efficiency or professionalism wouldn't have been possible, and I guess it's kind of coming from the nature of doing five years of consultancy that the first thing you usually do is looking at the processes and also making sure that if there's coming a shortage that you're ready to have the right arguments at hand and so to me, it was important that we moved a little bit from, let's say, just the matchmaking. So understanding ourselves is the entry gate towards truly creating an impact that creates and captures value for the organization. With that, I'm not saying it wasn't the case. Before, but let's just say it was more, more random. And now we prioritize and focus our steps forward a little bit more focused. And so with that, to me, it was important to talk about the innovators' dilemma from the theory background. It is important to have an innovation department that tackles that problem. Innovator's dilemma in just a sentence means that you're too busy with your daily operations and that you do not have the capacity nor the interest to actually challenge your product and processes to come up with new solutions. It is our job as the innovation department to get that job done and inspire but also challenge and finger point, you know, where potentials for optimization and digitalization. And that is basically what we do. This basically comes down to moving from a push approach where we would push technologies into the organization, yet I still believe it is valid, especially when you're beginning a venture client unit, to also have some success pilots that help people understand and appreciate your work. But long-term perspective, if you truly want to help the organization, not just for the sake of doing pilots, but actually for the sake of innovating and automating the products and processes, then you actually have to solve a problem. You have to solve a problem that's not just in one region, not just in branch Hannover or Hildesheim, but maybe even scalable so that you can, once you implemented a solution, have a roadmap to scale that solution on a global scale. That is why we moved our process in the terms that we still do push, so every startup is happy to, and we'll welcome every startup to approach us and show us the pain point they're having, and then we still can find together use cases. But I would just say our focus has shifted towards identifying pain points with the business and functioning units and then doing a scouting for those problems, for those solutions that are already in the market let's say mitigation options to our colleagues in the company.

Chris: I think as you mentioned thinking of this as a hybrid approach to whatever kind of degree on the push and pull side is probably sounds healthy to me because of course if you 100% only focus on pulling problems from the business and maybe also from their customers, you might just not see the bigger picture, the entire thing. I mean, they're so deep into the problems and the operative and tactical side of the business, which is their job for most of the cases. You know, some unconventional solutions to existing problems, or maybe problems that are foreseen to arise in the future, they wouldn't be solved by only asking, you know, what are your problems? How can we solve them? But of course, the relevance, and it's much more hands-on if you have the pull approach and get people from the business to also appreciate the work because it really solves a problem again for them, for the clients, whomever. So yeah, I totally understand why you go from push to pull and then maybe have some hybridity baked into that approach. It just makes perfect sense for the value you can add to the organization. But interesting to hear. What would you say was your biggest mistake?

“And I learned that sometimes I don't have to win every battle and let's just accept certain things the way they are.”

Ronja: There are a bunch. I would say my biggest mistake is patience. So I'm not, by nature, a patient person. And I've been pushing a lot of things when I came. You know, coming from a world that is pretty speedy, where I basically have my own rules. And then coming into an environment that, once you get things started, higher, there's a higher return and there's a higher leverage. But I believe I did a fantastic job running into other people's advocates and practices, challenging a lot. And I learned that sometimes I don't have to win every battle and let's just accept certain things the way they are. I think it's a pretty corporate thing to do. But I think sometimes I had to understand that it makes also sense that it works this way. If that makes sense to the audience. I think everybody who worked inside a corporate business, knows what I mean. So even though sometimes you're thinking, you say, "Well, why do we have to align this? And why do we have to do that?" In the end, it actually makes perfect sense because the people actually know what they're doing. And they've been doing it for a longer time. Yeah, I would say that sometimes accepting the process and being patient is one of the mistakes. But then at the same time, I also like to challenge the status quo, so I'm not sure if it's a real mistake.

Chris: Well, yeah, I agree, but I'm also still working hard on my patience levels, so I'm definitely in the same boat. Okay, before we move to the future, Ronja, I would like to play a quick game. The quick game is called Rapid Fire Round. This is super simple. It goes like this, I do ask a question and the key to this is that you answer fast. So don't overthink, I know you're not overthinking anything, but you know, speed is key in that. So let's go for this, three questions: Number one, if DB Schenker was a vehicle, what would it be?

Ronja: A super truck that can also go in the water and fly if it needs to while organizing itself. You actually wanted to hear a brand, right? But you know, in Hamburg we have those buses that go into the water, so it actually makes sense.

Chris: Yes, I've seen them. No brand. Perfectly fine. Vehicle type, that's a novel vehicle type somewhat, but beautiful. Okay, number two. What is a technology trend you were skeptical about, but later embraced?

Ronja: I would say everything about the technology of high-speed underground transportation. So basically Hyperloop, Hard Hyperloop, etc. I was quite skeptical about it. Then we went to the Hard Hyperloop in Rotterdam and now I really understand the use cases, I really understand why it makes sense. For example, less maintenance, higher safety, and better fields in the environment. So it was an eye-opener for me because I really understand, yes, you don't have to do it where everything is already there, but if you want to build new cities and not focus so much on roads as it is today, then it could be a really cool solution.

Chris: Super interesting. I've seen some of the guys from Heart Hyperloop, I don't know if they were called this back then, a couple of years ago at a conference where they introduced their concept and everybody was just staring at them like, what are these guys even talking about? I mean, we already have sublevel transportation, but what's a hyper thing? So they really had an interesting vision and also technology that they wanted to pull off a couple of years ago, but it's great to see that this is advancing at that pace. Interesting. Okay. And can you also, that's number three, Ronja, please name a startup that has impressed you recently and also why it has impressed you.

Ronja: Well for me it's important, I like those startups that actually solve a problem. A good example, and I don't want to do any bashing, but I use Flink and Getir and you name it, but do they really solve a problem? I don't know. And I'm also not a big fan of all these platforms. But you asked me about why they, did something positive, and I made it into venting. To me, it's everything where you actually use the app, and it's like, hey, this is pretty cool. So I would use it again. But I think that's pretty straightforward.

Chris: So anything that's really helping you solve something?

Ronja: Yeah, something that actually helps the process.

Insights on the Launch of DB Schenker’s Startup Terminal Brand

Chris: Yeah, that's fair. That's fair. Okay. Uh, now if you think about the future for you know, venture clienting specifically at DB Schenker, um, again, there as we spoke last time you told me there's a new branding on the horizon. Maybe it's already out. Maybe not. I don't know. Um, can you give us a sneak peek or some update on this, and what prompted the need for new branding? What, why do you change?

Ronja: Absolutely, I love this question. A month ago, we launched the brand Startup Terminal, so DB Schenker Startup Terminal. And I'm pretty proud of it, happy to see people interested in our work, and also having an external platform for it. I mean, at the end of the day, it doesn't change anything we're doing. So at the end of the day, it basically just gives us another platform to truly target our messages and our language towards the ecosystem that we want to tailor it to. And I think it helps us to strengthen our positioning internally and externally. Obviously, it is in line with all the other venture client units. Maybe there's a little bit of FOMO, but I really don't think so because I truly see the benefit we have with our own brand. And the beautiful thing is we do it in reverse, fake it till you make it, right? There are a bunch of companies, startups, clients, venture client units, et cetera, that first have a fancy webpage and then start hiring people. And that's fair, I understand why you do it. The startup terminal is our way of moving forward to further professionalize our activities. And then also, you know, Schenker Ventures was founded two years ago as the venture capital and venture studio vehicle of DB Schenker. It is part of our department, yet I understand that it gets confusing for everybody. For startups, for colleagues, who does what? And so every now, and then we also have to clarify. So I believe having these two brands, one does the investment and does the new venture building, and the other one is actually doing the operational side with the co-organization, I think this also helps to clarify.

Chris: It does, absolutely. And it clearly shows that you continue to make an impact on DB Schenker's innovation efforts. Startup Terminal, that's a pretty neat name. And, you know, you earlier in this podcast, you've, you know, talked about that you and your colleagues need to see some scaling, at least thoughts, effort or solutions or concepts from the startups you're working with, not just deploy this to a city, but how can this, for example, be deployed on a global scale. Is it the same thing for DB Schenker? Is there also an even more global approach planned to roll out DB Schenker's startup terminal achievements and ambitions to even more countries, and more people? Is there anything on the horizon?

Ronja: So we constantly evaluate our activities and also where and how it makes sense to further push it. And here is a little bit, you know, the German way of doing things sometimes comes into play. So for instance, when you look at the US, I think I'm not sure if they actually need a venture client unit, simply because people in the US, from their mindset, are by default more open to collaborating with startups. So at the end of the day, a startup is just another supplier, right? So do they actually need somebody who is the mediator between finding suppliers that have a more venture track or is it just a, I'm not sure if they really do care about the difference, but those are questions that we're asking ourselves right now. So simply, I think with the establishment and implementation of the brand startup terminal, we now have a sound base to actually do our job more on a global scale. So what we're currently doing is understanding where and what makes sense, and then we would go from there. But definitely, I must admit, even though our department is called Global Innovation, you do business with the people you know and you like. Yet, we have some pilots in the US in Israel, or in other countries in Asia, but simply because of capacity and time zones, it has been a focus on Europe, and we'd like to break that up and make it more global.

Recommendations from a corporate perspective

Chris: That makes perfect sense. We're already quite far into all the stories, Ronja. But before we wrap up, now that I have you here, maybe I can get just from, you know, off the top of your mind, three recommendations for the listeners that they can take away with them from this episode. Maybe we can do one from a corporate perspective. So, you know, corporates that want to, you know, establish or just are starting out to establish venture clienting practices, what they should look out for. Same thing for the startups. We had a similar question at the beginning, but maybe one actual recommendation for startups that again, want to get in contact with you or potentially, you know, in different industries with any other large corporations. And then also one again, from your personal experience or personal work ethics, whatever it is for the listeners to take away with.

Ronja: All right, so let's start with the corporates. So first of all, if you have the means to establish a venture client unit or call it whatever you like, somebody that takes it on their responsibility and accountability to foster innovative solutions into bringing them into the organization. Then let's just do it, simply because I think it helps you as the organization to stay head-to-toe with competitors about innovations, technologies, et cetera. It helps startups to grow their business and helps the economy and society to further collaborate, have that mindset, and push entrepreneurship in Germany and beyond and on a global scale. At the end of the day, I'm not going to share any numbers, but for DB Schenker, it has a tremendous financial return. Not just that we have the latest technologies, but also that we can, in our own terms, contribute to the P&L. All right, and then the second question was for startups. I think I mentioned this earlier, so make sure, two things. First of all, make sure you actually solve my problem and make sure you know your audience. By that I mean know who's your champion inside of the organization. And then secondly, I just talked on Friday to a startup, and they weren't even aware that there is such thing as venture client units that dedicate their work and time towards helping startups get into the organization. And when you think about it, we now host the venture client roundtable for the fifth time. More than 70 companies are already part of the Venture Client Roundtable. So I would just say there are a bunch of companies that dedicate those people and resources to that work. So make sure your sales department in the startup team is also aware that there are people helping you with their best interest to push your solution into the organization. So this is to everybody who is in sales in the startup, make sure you know how and where to tackle the organization.

"Make sure that your sales department in the startup team is also aware that there are people who have an interest in helping you get your solution into the organization."

Chris: That is super practical advice. Really great to hear from every startup out there that's interested in getting into contact. And that these even exist, I agree. I mean, if you're in your startup bubble, probably your technology bubble, or in your Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, whatever community, maybe straight out of university, how would you know if nobody told you that there are actually people in large organizations such as DB Schenker that care about this? So you need to tell them, you need to educate them, how should they know this is not being taught in the typical university lecture, I assume? So yeah, that's a very, very practical advice. Good to hear.

Ronja: Yes. And lastly, personal advice. I mean, everybody has to run their own life right, but for me, I would say at the end of the day those two are being bold and trusting the process just by saying yeah, for me I've set a clear agenda of what I think I want to achieve from today and how I want to deal with my life and I also know pretty well what I don't want to do. So every time I'm doing a job, or I'm doing a project, or I'm doing a side hustle, etc., I'm also asking myself, is this contributing to my long-term goal? And if it doesn't, then I'm happy to say no. And so at the end of the day, and then with that, it also helps me not to always challenge, because I think we're first world people, we tend to always have this, okay, am I on the right track? Challenge everything, like, okay, is this the right principle? Is this the right city? Why did I study finance? Sometimes I definitely have those moments where I'm like, okay, what am I actually doing? I'll take a deep breath and go, well, no, you're actually on the right track. So just keep going in that direction. And that definitely helps me.

Chris: That is great advice. And having that said, if you look back on your professional career so far, I mean, there's a lot more to come, but so far, what do you think? Now, what would you say was your greatest Innovation Rockstar moment to date?

Ronja: I think for me it's just exciting to see what has happened in the last 12 years since I left school. I had no idea where I would be today. And so every year it just gets wilder and crazier. And I'm excited. Yeah, I think it's just the beginning. So I'm really excited about what's going to happen.

Chris: A lot to come. All right. And with that, Ronja, thanks very much for the insights, for the advice, and for sharing your experience with the audience. I'd say that's it for this episode. Thanks so much again for being my guest. It was really a pleasure to listen to you. And for everybody, if you want to get in touch with Ronja, I'm sure you found her on any major social media profiles or platforms, LinkedIn, and the like. So thanks for being here.

Ronja: Thank you for having me and yeah, excited for what comes for both of us.

Chris: All right. And to everybody listening or watching, if you enjoyed this episode, then simply leave us a comment on this episode or drop us an email at And as always, if you want to get in touch with my guests, simply check the socials. That's it. Thanks for listening. Take care, everybody. See you. Bye bye.

Show notes

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About the authors

Dr. Christian Mühlroth is the host of the Innovation Rockstars podcast and CEO of ITONICS. Ronja Stoffregen is Head of Global Startup Management at DB Schenker.

The Innovation Rockstars podcast is a production of ITONICS, provider of the world’s leading Operating System for Innovation. Do you also have an inspiring story to tell about innovation, foresight, strategy, or growth? Then shoot us a note!



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