April 30, 2020
The motto he chose for his LinkedIn profile speaks for a certain willingness to take risks: "If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives." Robin Wolter is one of the main organizers of the Jacobs Startup Competition at Jacobs University. He is enthusiastic about the dynamism and the willingness to change of founders. But he is also fascinated by something else that does not seem to fit into the agile startup culture: Financial Accounting. "I see myself as someone who connects both worlds," explains Wolter, who studies International Business Administration at Jacobs University.
The 22-year-old scholarship holder of the HANSA-FLEX foundation says that accounting is like a jigsaw puzzle. "You have lots of numbers, you have your accounting entries. And if they give a coherent overall picture, like annual accounts, then you have a sense of achievement." He discovered his passion for accounting while studying at Jacobs University – as well as his interest in startups.
Robin Wolter attended the Fröndenberg Comprehensive School, not far from Dortmund. Since English is the global language of business, it was important to him to study at an English-speaking university. He came across Jacobs University through an Internet search, visited the campus, attended a lecture – and applied.
On the very first day, he met his later best friend, Lara, who, as a student advisor, took care of the newcomers. She drew his attention to an event that is organized by the students themselves every year and which radiates far beyond the campus: the Jacobs Startup Competition. Every year, approximately 150 teams of young and committed founders from all over the world try to qualify for the final event, where the ten best startup ideas are presented.
Robin Wolter initially took care of the sponsoring and because this worked out quite well, he later became one of the two main organizers. Together with a group of 35 students, he organized the event for two years in a row, a classic management task. "Startups have a huge effect on our lives, not just the big ones like Airbnb or Uber," he explains his fascination. "They also exert a pressure to innovate on existing companies. It is exciting and instructive to see how they develop and present their business ideas".
Wolter also knows the other, the traditional business world. He completed an internship at the renowned auditing and consulting firm KPMG and still has a student job there. For the Jacobs Startup Competition, he won a KPMG tax consultant as a speaker, because founders, of course, have to pay taxes too. Wolter shows in his bachelor's thesis that these two worlds do indeed go together. His thesis deals with the question of how conservative accounting methods can be relevant in the ambiguous startup environment.
In June, the passionate ballroom dancer will receive his graduation certificate. What does he take with him from his time at Jacobs University? "I learned a great deal in dealing with people from different cultures and had the opportunity to do research," he says. And he learned to bake waffles. Selling waffles is a source of income for the Rotaract club, a youth organization affiliated with Rotarians that raises money for social causes. Robin Wolter has been involved in it – as treasurer, of course.
He will not start his own startup after graduation. "It takes a convincing idea, and I haven't had one yet." Instead, he is moving to the University of Hamburg for one year as a research assistant to Prof. Dr. Kerstin Lopatta and Prof. Dr. Alexander Bassen, who specialize in financial accounting and sustainability. And he has also already started to plan the time after that: He wants to do his doctorate on the same subject, either in the USA or in Spain. After all, just waiting for what is coming up next is not his cup of tea.
This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff. Further episodes can be found at www.jacobs-university.de/faces.