Lukas von Hohnhorst is the developer of Athenify, a data-driven learning app that lets students track and analyze their study behavior. With gamification tools and an impressive dashboard, the app is designed to help students gain control and transparency over the whole learning process and optimize their study time.
One of the first Podcasters in Germany 🇩🇪
I’ve always had a high affinity for computers. It started in 2003 when my father bought a Power Mac G4 and when I got my first MacBook at the age of 13. Back then in the summer of 2006, I was one of the first podcasters in Germany, together with my siblings. In our »Der Hörbuchpodcast« (which would be a valuable brand today if we protected the name), we told little family stories and described our everyday life having several children at home. My sister, at that time 9 years old, was probably not only the first but also the youngest podcaster in the country.
Besides sharing family stories online, I noticed early that I had a passion for design and planned to become a graphic designer first. I bought Adobe Photoshop as part of the Creative Suite 3 (Yes, you’ve read it right. I didn’t pirate, which was quite usual at that time, but accumulated my whole pocket money and bought this software) and started to upload vector graphics to DeviantArt.
My account is still active: https://www.deviantart.com/lukasiniho
In 2009, I gained coding experience the first time when we had Computer Science courses at school. There we learned the basics of computers like John von Neumann architecture, EVA principle, and simple algorithms like playing the lottery. These early experiences in coding, design, and computer architecture served as the starting point for my future app development project.
Coding by Doing
However, against my interests in Computer Science, I decided to study Business Administration (Bachelor and Master) in Mannheim with a focus on Finance and Information Systems. I completely immersed myself in the world of business but never lost my passion for technology.
During my studies, I did an internship at Daimler in which I programmed an SQL database with MS Access (> 3.000 lines of code). The necessary knowledge for this project was entirely self-taught.
The decisive point that consolidated my passion for programming and data was my master’s thesis. The topic was technically very demanding, and I knew that it would not be an easy task, given my business background. It was connected with a lot of risks, but a quote from Richard Branson served as motivation:
If someone offers you a great opportunity, and you don’t have the skills yet, say yes and learn the skills later.Richard Branson
After graduating from the Uni Mannheim, I am now working at Bosch as part of the Finance and Controlling Trainee Program. Here, I strive to drive digitization projects in the finance domain. For instance, one of the topics I’ve worked on is Robotic Process Automation with the software Automation Anywhere.
Optimize Study Time with Analytics🚀
When I was still a student and studying for an exam, I wondered if there was an app that would help me better manage my own studies. I wanted to know: which subjects do I spend the most time studying? A also wanted to record this information in the app. Thereupon, I built my first learning diary with Excel. Since then, I’ve written down every single minute I spent learning into this Excel template. For instance, I spent around 1.300 hours in total studying for my master’s degree.
This knowledge helped me, especially for my master thesis. With the data generated from the past, I was able to estimate in advance how much time I would spend on the thesis. This enabled me to optimize my working time as well as working from the Majdan in Kyiv or a café in Paris.
Data Visualization is fundamental since people think in images.
The visualization of the data was crucial to me from the beginning. I think this is a core component of Data Science because many people find it challenging to interpret simple tables and prefer visualizations when it comes to understanding data and discovering insights.
Furthermore, it has proven to be extremely useful when you incorporate gamification concepts into such a process. So I built-in incentives for the daily learning time. For example, if you learn more than 5 hours a day, you get a gold medal as a reward. I was able to estimate how diligently I studied in the last semester by the number of medals which motivated me to go on.
Athenify – The digital Learning Diary
Out of this idea of the learning diary in Excel, my first self-developed App Athenify was born. Athenify is the first digital learning diary for students and pupils with which you can easily track your learning progress. Furthermore, it offers a beautiful dashboard with all statistics at a glance.
BTW, the name Athenify comes from Greek mythology and is derived from Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
Again, the necessary knowledge for this project was entirely self-taught. Since I didn’t have to start from scratch due to my previous experiences at Daimler and my master thesis, it was admittedly somewhat more manageable for me to learn the technical aspects. It gave me the necessary self-confidence to start the project.
Further tips would be:
First, learn the basics of computer science like input/output processing, binary numbers, loops, functions, etc.
Second, I suggest learning with the help of good tutorials. Pay attention to excellent reviews, and don’t be afraid to invest a little money for it.
Everybody, with any common sense, can learn programming. You just have to want it.
After all, it is essential to learn goal-oriented. I was aware from the beginning that I had to finish my master thesis by a particular deadline and that I wanted to develop my learning app. That gave me enough motivation to stay on track. Self-imposed deadlines (my birthday served as the deadline for Athenify) can work wonders. Additionally, committing to working daily on a project can be very beneficial too. I call my daily habit approach »The HabitSystem« and I have written a small book about it.
My long-term goal is to approach the topic of digitization, especially Data Science, from a business expert’s perspective. I am sure that in many companies, the full potential of data has not yet been exhausted. Above all, I’m interested in creating awareness about data and that people have a better feeling when dealing with it. With the help of data and statistics, you can better understand economic relationships and make better decisions.