Distributing competencies in teams – Interview for StartupValley.News
CoA Academy supports leaders to achieve their goals with more ease
Please introduce yourself and the startup CoA Academy to our readers.
I’m Leonie Schulze Bölling, CEO of CoA Academy. We help leaders in fast-growing companies achieve their goals with greater ease. We call it the principle of “relaxed productivity.” In our Remote Leadership Program, we provide a platform for learning from each other. Successful business managers share their experiences and their own pragmatic, secret toolbox. Together, our participants discuss their daily challenges among like-minded people and find solutions together. In this way, they develop their leadership personality, change their behavior in everyday life and grow beyond themselves.
Why did you decide to start this company?
During the pandemic, my two co-founders, Michael Portz and Christian Kohlhof, had gathered all their knowledge and non-knowledge stemming from their 20 years of management experience and poured it into a program concept. From the start, the program was overwhelmingly well received by our target audience. It was a successful proof of concept. So the three of us decided to use that as a foundation for the successful business that it has become: a coaching academy to help leaders around the world achieve more fruitful results with greater ease. The three of us share a common purpose: to make the world of work a better place. We’ve worked together before and knew that we had the same mindset and value base. There was simply no reason not to do it.
What was the biggest challenge in founding CoA Academy?
The biggest challenge was timing and organizing the start-up. We are a 100% remote company that was created in the middle of a global pandemic. My two co-founders and I only met virtually at the beginning of the crisis. We were convinced of our shared vision and wanted to get started. However, we live in three different cities, so we had to do all the paperwork asynchronously. Each of us went to a different notary. The contracts were sent across the country countless times. Fortunately, everything worked out in the end. Our first in-person meeting didn’t take place until everything was already signed and sealed. Fortunately, the first meeting only strengthened our determination to go down this road together.
Is it possible to start with an idea even if everything is not quite perfect yet?
Of course. If not, no one would ever start with an idea, would they? When is everything ever perfect? My background is in Agile innovation development. The earlier I get real customer feedback, the more I can apply a needs-based approach to developing a product. In my view, getting things done quickly is the key to success for good ideas, products and services.
What is the vision behind CoA Academy?
Our aim is to become the #1 brand for leadership development among multinational start-ups (growing companies with employees in different countries) over the next three years. And our Purpose is to help leaders around the world succeed with greater ease. If we can do this, our work environment will become a much better one. In this way, we want to ensure that the many magnificent visions of innovative companies that are also contributing to a better world actually succeed. We want to prevent them from failing due to leadership issues, as is unfortunately often the case. Many serious mistakes in management can be prevented with earlier intervention. Founders, managers and their teams save a lot of time, energy and money through our program.
Who does CoA Academy target?
Generally, we address all executives worldwide who aspire to be true leaders and unleash their full potential. We also provide additional value for multinational start-ups and fast-growing companies. In other words, companies that have very ambitious goals, where team building is a crucial success factor and whose employees live in different places around the world. In these companies, the mindset matches ours very well: exchange at eye level and an openness to other perspectives. Our program is available in multiple languages: German, English, Spanish, French and Russian.
What are the benefits? What distinguishes you from other companies?
I would say it’s our character. The way we deliver content, the way we interact with our participants and the way we are. The atmosphere in our community and our sessions is very relaxed, confidential and family-like. We all—regardless of age, background, experience—always interact at eye level and share very personal experiences with each other. Our style is sometimes a bit unconventional, we don’t always take ourselves too seriously. And at the same time, professionalism is very important to us. This is all reflected in the technological backbone of our program. The different learning formats ensure that our members not only get input, but that they really change something in their everyday lives. They change themselves and their leadership style. This is important to us and makes the difference for people and businesses. That’s why our program is deliberately not designed as an in-house training, as many others do. For us, the exchange with people from other firms and looking beyond our own horizons is crucial.
CoA Academy, where is the road leading? Where do you see yourself in five years?
If everything goes really, really well, we’ll have achieved our vision in five years. There will definitely be more content and formats to learn by then—even more software-based and linked to an exceptional learning experience. When I look at what innovations are developing across the EdTech industry, I’m sure lifelong education and growing beyond ourselves will be made increasingly easier for us. We will achieve that for our customers as well.
To conclude: What three tips would you give to aspiring founders?
First: Just do it. If you’re already thinking about it, it’s the right time.
Second: Exchange with others. And at the same time, trust yourself. Get input from others and stand by your own decisions.
Third: Distribute competencies within the team. We all work best when we do what we like and are good at. For almost every necessary task, there is someone who likes to do it. This way, the job is done by the person who can do it best. And when this happens, success is inevitable.
A big thank you to StartupValley for interviewing us!