Specialisterne Business Model
A new wave of IT specialists
If you missed the first part of Specialisterne case study, click here 👈
Social Impact Mission
As seen at the beginning of the article, Specialisterne first started to promote its vision of diversity inclusion. Torkhil wanted to create a world with autistic people having equal opportunities in the labor market. So that’s exactly the impact mission he had in mind since the beginning: integrating people with ASD in the workforce.
Beneficiaries + Value for Beneficiaries
On Specialisterne website, the company states that they “(..) see past the diagnosis and focus instead of the special skill-set that often comes hand-in-hand with such ASD diagnosis: attention to detail, strong logical and analytical skills, an above-average ability to concentrate for long periods of time, diligence and zero-fault tolerance“. So, it’s clear who the beneficiaries are and what kind of value they bring to Specialisterne. But what’s in it for them?
After the training with Specialisterne, autistic people encounter life-changing opportunities. As a matter of fact, they further develop their latent talents, then having the chance to get employed in professional working environments. This leads to economic stability as well as social inclusion. Moreover, such virtuous initiative contributes to reducing stigma and discrimination experienced by autistic people.
Customers + Value for Customers
What about customers? Specialisterne serves international clients like Microsoft, Oracle, TDC A/S, Grundfos and KMD. So, pretty much all tech-oriented companies can, to some extent, find Specialisterne offering right on spot. In return, they don’t only get premium IT consulting and support services, but also the awareness of taking part to a higher cause. Let’s not call it with the cold name of Corporate Social Responsibility this time 🙂
We still have to reveal details about Specialisterne core interventions. The company decided to group the IT services offered into three main categories: 1) Software Management; 2) Testing and Registration; 3) Data Logistic. All these services actually leverage the so-called “Autism Advantage” as unique selling point. In fact, such services consist in high-focus-high-repetition tasks, in whom autistic people usually outperform other kinds of employees.
Key Activities + Channels
No matter where Specialisterne operates, the core structure of its activities remains pretty much always the same. First, candidates (people with ASD diagnoses) undergo a five-months training program sponsored by Specialisterne Foundation. By dealing with different exercises and work tasks, candidates bring to light their skillset and talents. At the same time, they acquire new technical competences and refine social and work skills. To some extent, such programs (together with publications on international journals), also represent Specialisterne main channels.
Once successfully trained and employed, autistic people are assigned to mentors who continue supporting them all along the journey. Because of that, we believe that also tutoring and mentorship are key activities at Specialisterne. And finally, delivering business services to the clients is the moment when employees with ASD meet the market and unleash their abilities.
Key Resources + Key Partners & Stakeholders
In terms of resources, Specialisterne’s success is mostly defined by human capital (autistic people’s skills), brand reputation and international network. Such network also includes Specialisterne most strategic partners, such as LEGO Foundation and the Danish Ministry of Children and Education. These two institutions are indeed some of the main sponsors for Specialisterne’ training programs. Apart from them, Ashoka, UN, Brunel Foundation are other fundamental collaborations for the organization.
Cost Structure + Revenues + Surplus
When it comes to the economic structure, let’s just remember that Specialisterne branches are owned by Specialisterne Foundation. Each branch is self-sustainable, with revenues mostly coming from direct sales of consultancy services and, at times, from small grants. Such revenues cover staff costs (both autistic people and tutors) and consultancy fees to the Foundation.
As a matter of fact, Specialisterne Foundation surely receives consistent donations and takes part to projects funded by EU. Nonetheless, it also sells consulting services to newly established Specialisterne branches to replicate its model. Such multiple business structure helps clearly distinguishing between for-profit social business activities and non-profit advocacy initiatives.
Since 2004, Specialisterne works to ensure inclusion of ASD people in the labor market. Along time, its reach and depth of impact helped breaking barriers and reduced stigmas around people with autism.
Thanks to its unique proposition, Specialisterne trains autistic people and leverages their skills to sell IT consulting services to international clients. While maintaining core operations financially sustainable, this conglomerate has been able to replicate its model in more than 13 countries. So, to conclude, it’s really no coincidence that Specialisterne is considered one of the most successful cases of social innovation around the globe.
As Thorkil once told during our first interview, it’s all about “bringing humanity back to management and managerial practices”. Well.. they surely did it!
About the Author
I’m Marco, an Italian business practitioner with previous study and work experiences across Australia, Netherlands, Spain and Vietnam. Having a background in economics and business management, since 2018 I’m happy to support social entrepreneurs and impact startuppers refine their businesses and scale social impact.
At Social Business Design, I mostly write about business design, financial modeling and growth hacking, sharing useful tools and insights gathered during 5+ years of on-field experiences.
Apart from talking about social business, I love hiking, reading, eating Asian food and taking pictures while I’m traveling. If interested, feel free to get in touch with me through my channels! 🙂
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