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Yannick Visbeek about Backend Engineering at Owlin  

At Owlin, we couldn’t do what we are doing without the great work of everyone working with us. In this interview series, The people of Owlin, we ask them about their daily work, background, and where they see Owlin going in the future. This month: Yannick Visbeek, Backend Engineer tells us about his role at Owlin and the innovations he works on.

Can you tell a bit about your background?

‘’Yes, so about 9 years ago, I completed my bachelor’s in Finance at VU University in Amsterdam. I’m originally from Amsterdam, and in my final year, I had the chance to go to Tokyo for an exchange program. After my bachelor’s, I spent a couple of years working, still trying to figure out my next move. During that time, I realized I wanted to pursue a Master’s degree. So, I enrolled in the ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation’ program at UVA. The program involved setting up small businesses and working on innovation projects for big companies. While considering my next steps, I came across ‘B. Amsterdam’, a start-up hub offering various courses, including programming. I had some experience with coding from my earlier days, building my own websites. I saw this as a potential opportunity and I spent three months intensively learning to code. Shortly after completing the program, I landed a job.”

When did you join Owlin, and what motivated your decision to be a part of this team?

‘’I joined Owlin in July 2023, so it’s been almost four months now. I was attracted to Owlin after having several conversations with different team members, including our Chief Growth Officer, Stefan, based in New York. The discussions were engaging, and we instantly connected. What really intrigued me about Owlin was the level of technical challenge involved, the programming languages used, and the complexity of the product. Unlike many other companies, here at Owlin, we’re dealing with really intricate stuff. People might underestimate the complexity of our platform.”

How would you describe your role at Owlin, and what are your main contributions within the company?

“I am a Software Engineer with a focus on the backend. My responsibilities include working across all three programming languages used in our platform. I’m involved in various aspects, from the core system to other related tasks.”

Could you share some recent projects or initiatives at Owlin that have resonated with you, reflecting the company’s commitment to innovation?

“One project I’ve been working on is the integration of Google Reviews into our platform. It’s part of our new feature, Consumer Review Monitoring, which allows our clients to gain insights into their merchants or vendors through review data. It helps them keep an eye on any negative reviews that could serve as early warning signals for risk management. We pull in reviews from various sources. What’s exciting is that our platform automatically extracts text and generates analyses, making it immediately usable for our clients.”

How do you maintain your motivation and enthusiasm in your role at Owlin, given the dynamic nature of your work?

“I keep myself motivated by ensuring I have a mix of tasks to work on. Having this variety keeps things interesting and prevents me from getting bored. It’s all about staying engaged and constantly challenging myself with new things.”

What sets Owlin apart from other companies in the same domain, in your opinion?

“I think it’s the complexity of what we do. What’s cool is that if things go wrong, we can easily fix them. Our platform works synchronously, preserving all versions of data. For instance, if a document is translated, and the translation goes wrong, we can backtrack and redo the work. We keep the original data, maintaining a comprehensive history of all data and versions. Other companies might not necessarily retain all these versions.”

What aspects of being part of the Owlin team do you find most fulfilling? Any memorable experiences you’d like to share?

“I enjoy being in the office regularly, especially our team lunches that the company arranges. It’s a great way to connect with colleagues on a more informal level, outside of work. The office environment itself is lively, with other start-ups and scale-ups, creating a vibrant atmosphere. It’s also great that we have colleagues working from different locations like Spain or New York. This works well due to our strong team communication and everyone’s sense of responsibility for their tasks. We all feel deeply connected and dedicated to the product.’’

What are your aspirations for the future, both personally and professionally?

“Well, I absolutely love programming, and it’s something I want to keep doing for the rest of my life. Even if I were to do something else professionally, I’d continue coding in my spare time. My aim is to keep improving my programming skills and gain as much experience as I can. Programming is essentially about problem-solving, and this problem-solving mindset translates to various other aspects of life. It’s like I can fix anything if I have a guide and a set of steps. My girlfriend sometimes tells me I’m too deep into my programming mindset. I tend to break down everything into steps, so I’ll work on a few steps, then move on to the next, and come back to the subsequent steps later.”

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

“I used to play a lot of football, although I’ve slowed down due to some injuries. Padelling has become my new favorite activity. I also enjoy playing the guitar, something I’ve been doing for quite a few years now. Playing the guitar is a great way for me to unwind. Sometimes, in the midst of work, I’ll pick up my guitar for a little break from my programming thoughts.”

Any advice for aspiring professionals based on your journey and experiences?

“Just go out and try things. During my own studies, I realized I was searching for what truly excited me. There’s a danger in getting stuck in a loop of overthinking and not knowing what you want. By getting out there and trying different things, you discover what you truly enjoy and how things resonate with you!”

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