Behind the scene: meet Katrin & Ellen!


You have probably already seen them several times; Katrin and Ellen. The project coordinators of the Tilburg University Challenge. Together with Tilburg University and IQONIC, they organize the challenge and guide the participants in their entrepreneurial journey. Who they are? What do they do? And their ideas? Here you can read all about Katrin and Ellen.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Study, hobbies, work, etc.
Katrin:  I was born in Germany but grew up all the way in the north of the Netherlands in Alkmaar. After finishing my bachelor's at the Hotel Management School in Maastricht, I traveled through Central America for three months. Traveling is probably my biggest passion and hobby. But when I am not lying at the beach somewhere, I love to bake and cook. In Summer 2019 I moved back to Maastricht and started working at Soapbox. At first, I was only organizing the challenge at the Technical University of Eindhoven, nowadays I am also organizing the Tilburg University Challenge which I am very excited about! 

Ellen:  Hi I’m Ellen, born and raised in Limburg, The Netherlands. Before working at Soapbox organizing the Tilburg University Challenge, I studied at Radboud University in Nijmegen. I followed a 3-year Bachelor degree called International Business Communication with a specialization in Spanish. This Bachelor was followed by a Master focused on technology and science and its impact on society. When I’m not working and studying, I love to play volleyball, hang with friends, walk my dogs, and of course a little party is always fun ;).

Even though candidates don’t see it, a lot happens behind the scenes. What does your average day look like?
Katrin:  Ohh that's a difficult question because every day is very different. It totally depends on the stage of the challenge. Sometimes my day is filled with contacting students and inviting them to join the challenge another day is all about planning an event or standing in front of the camera during a live stream. Overall I make sure that everyone, both students and partners know what is going on and that all parts of the challenge run as smoothly as possible.

Ellen:  Well, first of all, organizing the challenge started months before the challenge actually starts. Think about contacting potential partners, promoting the challenge, and of course finding students with great ideas. Right now, on an everyday basis, I work together with my colleagues (like Katrin) to set up an amazing Grand Finale event.

This is the first edition of the Tilburg University Challenge, what are your impressions so far?
Ellen:  I’m very impressed with the participants and their ideas. You can already see some teams that think and act with an entrepreneurial mindset. As well, the participants are open for challenges and also focus on helping each other, which I really appreciate! And of course, the partner network is so valuable. Great to see how these parties come together!

Katrin:  So far I have enjoyed working together with Tilburg University and all the students and partners a lot. I think that we have a great team organizing this first edition and a great group of students and coaches who are participating. 

What are your expectations for the final event?
Katrin:  My expectations are quite high. I really expect to see some strong pitches from the teams and look forward to helping two lucky teams on their journey to a start up.

Ellen:  I expect great pitches from the participants, burning questions from the jury, and amazing prizes. Even though it will be all online, we’ve thought of some ways to make it interactive with the audience. I hope everybody will be as excited about this as I am! 

Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset? Any great ideas?
Katrin:  My own innovative idea would be a plant sitting app. Apps for babysitting or pet sitting already exist, but like me, some people have plants that need to be taken care of while the owner is on holiday. The app would allow people with plants and people who have time to take care of plants to connect. Like this, if the owner goes on holiday for two weeks, he knows the plant will not die as it is being taken care of by someone else. 

Ellen:  Yes! I’m always thinking about new ideas and possible innovations. An idea I’ve got is about making environmentally-friendly clothing which create awareness and support a healthy product cycle. However, half of my ideas slip my mind faster than it took to come up with them. But as you all know, having good ideas is not everything when becoming an entrepreneur.

If you could add an extra event for the participants to the challenge, what would it be?
Ellen:  I would love to do another networking event. I believe that networking is very important and connecting students with business is the main goal of the challenge. Maybe something with food, if Covid-19 allows it, something like a big dinner! 

Katrin:  I would organise a big pizza party at the beginning of the competition for all the participating students. Like this the students would be able to get to know each other as well. Who knows what kind of connections or new teams can be formed while sharing some pizza?

Do you have a final golden tip for the finalists of the Tilburg University Challenge?
Katrin:  Enjoy! Do not forget to enjoy the experience of pitching, watching the finale or maybe even winning. It may be very nerve-racking, but it might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. So make sure to take a step back and enjoy the experience. 

Ellen:  I think the finalists already received a lot of great tips in the workshops and when talking with partners. However, my tip is to think further than the prize of the final event. Think about the partners and the audience you are reaching and the future collaborations that could rise from this. Make sure your entrepreneurial journey won’t stop on the 12th of November!
Share this article: