Array (  => October  => 27,  => 2020 )27October
- Success Stories
vCOACH: Improve Your Communication with a Little Help from AI
They founded their company in 2020 and already won one of the most prestigious awards the industry has to offer. Benjamin Gumpp, TUM School of Management alumnus and co-founder of the web-based soft skills training provider vCOACH, and his team stood up to established companies at this year’s HR Innovation Award 2020 and were honored in the category “Training & Learning”. Besides a good reason to celebrate, this also provides an opportunity to establish the company in the market. We spoke with Benjamin about the visions for his start-up and the role the TUM Management Alumni e.V. played in its development.
How did it come about that you founded a start-up?
After graduating in Management and Technology from TUM as well as the Center for Digital Technology and Management, I gained professional experience in consulting with Oliver Wyman and at ProSiebenSat.1. During my employment as an Operating Officer at Sat.1, I met my co-founder Stephanie Mayer, who had the same job at ProSieben. We immediately recognized that our mindset as well as our visions about the future matched ideally. Consequently, starting our own business together was a conceivable alternative for both of us. The idea followed shortly after we thought about a problem that had often crossed our paths. In our jobs, self-confidence, clear communication, and being able to present ideas in a convincing manner are some of the most important requirements. We had already participated in several trainings to improve our soft skills – but we were never really satisfied with them.
What problems did you notice?
The training sessions were often scheduled for one blocked day. And you really had no other options if the timings didn’t really fit into your weekly schedule. Also, one-to-one trainings were usually only reserved for the executive floor. Other employees, who often struggle more with speaking in front of groups, only had the option to take part in group training sessions – and those often lack the necessary time to practice. In consequence, you forget what you’ve learned rather quickly. With vCOACH, we developed a web-based communication training that uses AI and expert review to evaluate the user’s presentation technique. You can continue practicing whenever you want and get feedback on your videos – over a longer period of time.
Communication is about people. Can a digital tool replace a real communication trainer?
In order to learn to act confidently, it is important to be in a protected environment. Most participants have more courage to try things out when they feel safe. But since they know that they are being filmed, a pressure situation arises and most of them report that they feel nervous about that. And that’s a good thing – because these are exactly the situations you should get accustomed to. The feedback we have been getting shows the impact of our training. But the nicest confirmation is actually that some participants have already told us that colleagues have approached them proactively and noted that their communication has improved greatly.
What mistakes were hardest for yourself to correct?
In presentations, I did not take enough breaks – which makes it quite exhausting for listeners to follow, especially when dealing with complex issues. Additionally, I did not show enough of my own emotions – but this is the key to success! People want to be inspired – by a person rather than by content. Coincidentally, this makes me a great example, because these are the mistakes that many people struggle with.
What does the TUM Management Alumni e.V. mean to you?
I highly appreciate the network. You can feel the openness and solidarity that is also a characteristic of the TUM School of Management. The TUM School of Management lives the entrepreneurial spirit and the TUM Management Alumni e.V. connects you with relevant contacts for founding your own company. The TUM even provided us with rooms in the first four months. So, our first office was in the rooms of the Chair of Electrical Engineering.
What are your visions and goals for the future?
Together with my team, I would like to give as many people as possible access to communication training and thus help them to develop and improve their soft skills. It would be great to look back in five years and realize that we have managed to build a successful business while improving other peoples’ lives. The HR Innovation Award has shown us that we are on the right track – we are highly motivated!
As a member of TUM Management Alumni e.V., you get a 15 percent discount on the training of vCOACH. Get more information in the intranet.
TUM Management Alumni e.V. connects alumni, students and partners. At events spread throughout the year, former and current students come together and exchange ideas. Even in times of the coronavirus, the TUM Management Alumni e.V. is hosting a lot interesting come-togethers – virtually, of course. Check the association’s website to sign up.
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