On a mission to revolutionise the temporary staffing market – Interview with Zenjob CEO Fritz Trott

Zenjob-founders
From left to right: Fritz Trott, Cihan Aksakal, Frederik Fahning). Picture by Dawin Meckel/Ostkreuz

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Berlin, Zenjob offers students cool jobs in real-time through an app and provides companies with a platform that manages their staffing needs. Each month, Zenjob nowadays helps over 12,000 students to find a job and to fund their studies this way. More than 1,100 companies already trust the platform with providing great talent. The fast-growing startup was also able to raise a total of about €23 million in venture capital by investors like Acton Capital, Redalpine and Atlantic Labs. Zenjobs’ team currently consists of more than 250 employees.

To learn more about the company’s impressive journey and future plans, we catched up with Fritz Trott, the co-founder and CEO of Zenjob. Enjoy the interview:

What is Zenjob and what do you do differently or better than other staffing platforms?

Zenjob represents the next generation of temporary staffing solutions. We are a technology-driven service providing student workers to companies on a temporary basis and at a moment’s notice.

When we founded Zenjob, we recognised the temporary staffing market is offline and highly fragmented. Traditional providers use outdated processes and limited data to manage staffing, consequently failing to meet the increasing requirements of our modern, digital economy. Our mission is to revolutionise the temp market through state-of-the-art technology, enabling us to offer a new experience by outperforming existing players in the market. We will achieve this through three key dimensions; speed, quality, and convenience.

Companies can request a workforce in the morning and be provided with staff by the afternoon. Our algorithms match staff to vacancies better and quicker than humans. As both parties, the employee and employer, review their experience after each job, our algorithms are constantly improving. Plus, our digital, paperless process is inherently more convenient and efficient than existing processes. This enables our clients to book a temporary workforce with just a few clicks. We have managed to attract prominent companies to our platform, as they see us as an easy and efficient way to hire staff on a flexible basis.

What were the main stumbling blocks for Zenjob in the first few years and how did you overcome them?

The first year after founding Zenjob was difficult and a lot of hard work. Nevertheless, the first phase has been successfully completed. We have built up a platform of 250 employees and have been well received in the market.

However, we still have a lot of work to get to where we know the platform can be. Our next focus is to expand our reach and offer our service in further cities. Each additional stage is as demanding and challenging as its initial foundation.

How do you see the job market developing in the coming years? Which trends do you see?

We notice an increasing demand for a flexible work-life. We have also seen automation and algorithms increasingly playing a major role in recruitment. This is due to their critical role speeding up the process of matching fitting candidates with open vacancies, allowing critical staffing needs to be filled in time.

How is the Coronavirus crisis impacting your business?

In some sectors such as hospitality, catering and events, employment needs have plummeted to almost zero over the course of a few days. In contrast, other economic sectors have been facing a skyrocketing demand and are thus in desperate need of a new workforce. We have seen huge demands across supermarkets, logistics and delivery companies, healthcare, and e-commerce.

Our platform is providing staffing support to these industries requiring an increased demand, whilst also supporting a large increase in students looking for work. We experienced an increase in the demand for student workers by 100 percent over just one week. With such an unpredictable and fast moving change in demand for staffing levels can only be managed effectively through an automated process.

At Zenjob, we are able to provide training to all new clients to get up and running on the platform via video call. Using our online booking tool, with just a few clicks student workers can be sent out to companies on the very same day. In times of an unpredictable crisis, our innovative product is helping to solve more staffing needs than ever before.

During the current situation, most people are working from home these days. How challenging is this for a scale-up like Zenjob? And can you share some tips on how to deal with that?

Over the past few weeks, internal HR management has become our company’s driving force. Over the course of a few days, we have researched, tested and installed new tools. We are now leading meetings of anywhere between 2 and 200 employees from home, which would previously be in person. Regular presentations given by our heads of department are now streamed online. Even our monthly “all-hands” meeting takes place remotely.

Our new employees guided office tour has now been replaced by virtual coffee meetings, helping to make their start as easy and personable as possible. We also send laptops and other required equipment directly to their homes. Despite the unpredictability of the crisis and the constraints of working from home, thanks to our operational resilience, we are functioning as usual.

The key aspect for our success dealing with the present challenges is to utilise technology in a way that maximises the efficiency and effectiveness of communication with all key parties. From onboarding our new clients to the platform, to training and engaging with our student employees.

What are the next milestones for Zenjob, and where do you see the company in 4-5 years from now?

This year, we are planning to expand our business across Germany, establishing our brand and operations nationwide in our home market. We will then look to international expansion in the years to follow.

From a technology perspective, we are aiming to further develop the capabilities and scope of Artificial Intelligence on the platform. Also, to utilise it with a wider focus, looking to improve predictions and patterns for the demand of temporary workforces. In addition, from a service offering, we are striving to provide a wider range of jobs for our student workers.

What does the temp market in Europe look like?

The European market for temp work is huge, with the trends consistent with that seen across Germany. Companies are looking for flexible staff to meet the peaks and troughs of demand, where an increasing number of people are looking for more flexibility in their professional life. We combine the demands of both worlds.