It took no less than three years for Auticon to evolve from an initial idea in 2008 into a registered company. In November 2011, exactly four years ago, the concept substantiated at last. Dirk Muller-Remus and Johannes Weber, Managing Partner at Ananda Social Venture Fund, had barely signed the shareholder agreement when the founding team members Dirk Muller-Remus, Anna Roth-Bunting and Bernd Herwig moved into the Social Impact Lab – an SAP funded co-working space for innovative social entrepreneurs in the depths of Berlin Kreuzberg.
21. November 2015
“Social Venture Fund and I wish Auticon a very happy birthday! It’s been fantastic to see Auticon develop over the past years. I look forward to our continued collaboration.”
Johannes Weber, Managing Partner, Ananda Social Venture Fund
Social Impact Lab offered Auticon an environment to lay the building blocks for an exceptional enterprise. Like many growing start-ups however, Auticon had to move on to bigger offices within just a few months. “We had a fantastic location but the space wasn’t ideal for our consultants. We needed somewhere of our own, somewhere quiet”, remembers Dirk Muller-Remus. By then Auticon had 11 members of staff, including six consultants on the autism spectrum. The entire team moved into its first official Auticon office in Berlin City West. At that time the first branch office in Dusseldorf was also in the making.
“Mistakes were made in 2012 but we learned from them. Particularly the recruitment of consultants has improved continuously since. We now know what to do, how and when to do it; and what to avoid. We also had to narrow down our recruitment criteria significantly” says Muller-Remus. “After that it was all about sales, sales, and sales”. Auticon had established a number of client contacts in 2012, but it took until 2013 for tangible project contracts to substantiate.
“I wish Auticon all the best on its 4th birthday. What a brilliant progress in the past years! The cooperation between Postbank and Auticon is more than fruitful and I am very pleased that we will work together in the future.”
Sven Oelschläger, Head of Application Governance, Postbank
“Back then we had to explain the concept of ‘autistic strengths in IT projects’ again and again. CEOs and CIOs were mostly thinking of Rain Man when hearing the term autism. Luckily that has changed by now. The IT community recognises and appreciates our approach” remembers Dirk Muller-Remus. “Of course the extensive media coverage as well as the awards we have won have helped us considerably.” In 2012 Auticon bagged its first recognition with the KfW Award “Gründerchampions”, an award for innovative German start-ups. November 2015 Auticon can look back on many more: IT-INNOVATION Award, BITKOM Innovators’ Pitch, Xing New Work Award and Deutscher Gründerpreis, only to name a few.
Whilst 2012 was all about starting up, 2013 was about scaling up: The first client projects launched, additional branches opened in Dusseldorf and Munich. By the end of 2013, 30 client projects had been successfully completed and Auticon counted 24 team members on the autism spectrum.
“2013 saw another major improvement: Kurt Schoffer joined our team as Managing Director. Not only was he the perfect addition to Auticon’s executive management but having him on board also allowed Auticon to grow from a start-up into a sustainable business”, says Muller-Remus.
2014 meant primarily one thing for Auticon: growth. Further branches opened in Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Hamburg; 50 client projects had been completed across Germany by the end of the year. The team continuously expanded to 40 consultants as well as 20 additional team members. By the end of 2014, Auticon staff had a ratio of approximately 2:1 autistic to non-autistic – the medium-term goal however is 5:1.
2014 also saw Auticon’s service portfolio updated, matching the exceptional strengths of autistic consultants even better with client demand.
“Auticon was amongst the first cohort of start-ups that we supported. The idea as well as the founding team convinced us immediately. You could certainly feel the spirit of entrepreneurship and the social vision of the project. Auticon reinforced our belief in social entrepreneurship.”
Norbert Kunz, Managing Director Social Impact gGmbH
In 2015, Auticon continued its success and grew to currently 80 members of staff; by the end of the year 100 clients projects will have been completed. 2015 saw Auticon evolve from a start-up to an established SME. “The coming year will see further measures towards growth and development” says Managing Director Kurt Schoffer. “One thing however will remain unchanged: The entire team is driven by the idea to deliver outstanding quality to our clients on the basis of unique autistic strengths and talents. Our overarching goal is to create added value for our clients whilst creating qualified employment opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum.”