Founding a company: “An exciting time – I really learned a lot!”
Three months ago, autoscan became an independent company. In this interview, founder Johannes Widmann shares his experiences so far.
Question: It’s been three months since you and Hans-Peter founded AUTOSCAN. Any regrets?
Johannes: [laughs] No, not even for a minute! On the contrary: So far it has been a very exciting time – I really learned a lot.
Question: Establishing a new company takes a lot of work. What did you have to do?
Johannes: So, so much – where do I even begin? Our “founding checklist” is several pages long. [laughs] For example: In the beginning we were not sure what to name our new company. We considered finding a new name but in the end, we decided to stick with the product name AUTOSCAN – we put all our energy into this product so we might as well use the name for the company. Next, we had to decide where our office would be registered.
Question: Your “office” is not a real place all of you commute to every day, right?
Johannes: That’s right, we are a “home office first” team – we all work from home and meet on a regular basis. That led to a few more legal questions that needed to be sorted out, like where to pay taxes, how to deal with travel expenses and more.
Question: Talking about legal questions: did you get help in that area?
Johannes: Yes, of course – also for tax counselling, insurance and accounting. It would be ill-advised to think that you can do it all on your own. The memorandum of association alone!
“It would be ill-advised to think that you can do it all on your own.”
Question: The memorandum is that complicated?
Johannes: Elaborate, I would say! [laughs] And it must be. You have to take many possible situations into account when drafting a contract like that. What happens if Hans-Peter and me can’t agree on an important decision? Or if one of us dies?
Those are situations that you do not really want to think about, but you have to in order to guarantee a stable company in the long term. And a law firm helps a lot with these deliberations, especially when it has a lot of experience with IT companies and start-ups.
Question: Speaking of “IT”: you probably had to set up the whole infrastructure too.
Johannes: Phew, yes, that was tough! First we had to carve out all the infrastructure and automatization that we created during the last few years in CSS.
Secondly, we had to establish our own IT infrastructure. Deciding which of the products and licenses make sense for us – technically and financially – took a whole month. We put all our money on the cloud and Microsoft products and have no more hardware of our own.
It’s difficult to imagine how many systems, tools, services you need if you have never founded an IT company. Not just for the product development itself but also for billing, timekeeping, customer relationship management, project evaluation, website and more!
Our process and decision-making credo was: “automate everything we can” and “the fewer processes, the better”. We want to focus our energy on our product and not on administrative processes and repetitive activities.
“Our process and decision-making credo was ‘automate everything we can’.”
Question: Did it help that Hans-Peter and you have been CEOs at CSS?
Johannes: Absolutely! A lot of things were not new to us, or we were aware of them. I can only recommend this kind of preparation! [laughs]
Question: The company is more than the two of you. How big is your team currently?
Johannes: We are a team of five. On the one hand, that means Hans-Peter and I also have human resources on our to-do list.
But on the other hand, we have a team consisting of allrounders who are team players and critical thinkers. None of them would ever say: “That’s not my area of expertise, I want nothing to do with it.”. And these are exactly the people you need in a start-up and I’m very grateful for them!
“We have a team consisting of allrounders who are team players and critical thinkers.“
Question: Looking back at the last few months: what would you do differently?
Johannes: The only thing that comes to mind: Don’t found a company in early summer because during the critical stage, the people you need are constantly on holiday! [laughs]
No, seriously, nothing really. It is not a task to be underestimated. Apart from all the things I mentioned, a hundred thousand more little things have to be done. Just two days ago I finally managed to order a company stamp!
I am happy that all the founding stuff is now behind us. That means that we can now fully concentrate on further improving autoscan!
About Johannes Widmann
Johannes Widmann is one of two CEOs at autoscan. He founded the company with Hans-Peter Zillner in July 2021. Johannes started his IT career as a software developer at CSS, where he later became project leader/product owner and finally partner.