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Working Outside Your Comfort Zone: An Innovator’s Reflection

Updated: Jun 6

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The following is an excerpt from a June 2021 FutureFounder Innovator Giovanna Cikos's blog post on her work experience as part of the FutureFounder StartupReadiness training. FutureFounder Innovators create a Digital Portfolio to secure work experience at a startup. To see more of Giovanna's work or learn more about her experience working at a startup, check out her Digital Portfolio.

Working Outside Your Comfort Zone: An Innovator’s Reflection

Giovanna Clkos Smilling
FutureFounder fellow Giovanna CIkos

My experience with FutureFounder (Check my blog: iComo:The App That Will Help You Consume Less Red Meat ) has been effective based on my goals since the beginning. I wanted to gain some experience working at a startup, in a different environment, language, and culture – the only thing I was not expecting was that I would work in a field distinct from my field of studies. I am a food engineer and I do not work with food; I work with optimization and, therefore, engineering. This "working outside your comfort zone" has proven to be a valuable learning experience.

I work at SplitSpot, a startup that takes the pain out of locating an apartment and finding a roommate, drastically improving the renting experience for everyone. SplitSpot gives renters back the power, offering comfortable shared homes, flexible leases, and much more (click here to know more about SplitSpot).

At SplitSpot, I am able to apply the knowledge I developed during my training with the FutureFounder StartupReadiness program, such as time management and remote work. Now I’m working full-time on 3 projects, in which my basic tasks are related to process optimization and project management. I coordinate and plan tasks for the project team members, including using an app called Clickup, reaching out to people, scheduling meetings, and working interdepartmentally.

My 3 projects are:

  • Zendesk automation project: My role here is to manage the project and ensure my leaders and our customers get what they need from the team members. That means basically planning the team members' tasks, organizing the information from our side to present to the leaders, and sometimes training the support team to use the automation tasks developed by the team. I also do a lot of research within this project on how to use Zendesk features such as automation, triggers, macros, and Zendesk Explore, which is the feature that creates the reports. I have a long-term project for this last topic: understanding how to use Zendesk Explore data to improve our customer experience. Zendesk Explore provides dashboard reports, and I want to analyze and use them to optimize the process.

  • Expansion project: My role here is to bring innovative thinking to develop a playbook for company expansion. The team is researching cities to expand our services and creating a system to decide where and how to expand. We’ve come up with the city's evaluation for expansion based on available data and our goals as a company. Now we are working on metrics to evaluate the success of a new city expansion, and we will be working on tracking these metrics for the new efforts. Later on, we will combine everything to develop a comprehensive expansion playbook.

  • Cold outreach tracking: As part of the expansion project, we have decided on which cities to start exploring, and now I’m developing a system to track the positive responses from the cold outreach process. It involves several team members and requires me to have good interdepartmental communication and analytical thinking.

I like to work in an environment without too much supervision, as it allows me to think by myself and reflect on my actions and tasks but also requires discipline to deliver results. I tend to be a self-leader and proactive, and indeed these are skills needed to be where I am.


FutureFounder is a social impact venture missioned to ensure that anyone, anywhere can become an innovator.

If you are interested in being part of the FutureFounder network and leave your comfort zone, as Giovanna explains in this blog called "Working Outside Your Confort Zone", click on the following links:

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