CIO Henk Stomphorst had the opportunity to contribute to the book "When All Brains Work" by Saskia Schepers. (Dutch only)
Henk's inclusive entrepreneurship
"Within Aryzon.World / OpenUp Technologies, we have a team consisting almost entirely of employees with neurodiversity. It's truly refreshing to know them and collaborate with them." Henk Stomphorst is a passionate entrepreneur who develops technological concepts with his third startup, OpenUp Technologies. Henk has been a pioneer in IT throughout his life, and as is customary in a startup, the focus is on innovative concepts. Aryzon.World is an Extended Reality platform where anyone can build their own learning environment, supported by virtual and augmented reality. It is a platform that also enables easy remote guidance, which is a significant advantage with the increase in remote work. The platform can be accessed from a VR or MR headset, as well as from a phone or PC, offering countless possibilities. It's a remarkable IT achievement.
Henk needs smart minds for this, and he works with highly functioning individuals on the autism spectrum. Some are fresh out of school, while others have bounced back from gaming addiction or have been out of the workforce for a long time because they couldn't function in a standard environment. Henk, by definition, does not provide a standard environment and adapts the conditions to his employees. And it works.
Henk has a clear vision of inclusive entrepreneurship and has developed his own method to easily work with his specific target group. "The most important thing is not to let work pressure fall on people, as it causes stress. Stress can decrease productivity by up to 60%," says Henk, and that is a waste and often unnecessary.
Additionally, everyone works on their own project, so they can truly make it their own, and they work on personal growth every day. "I value someone who grows a little bit every day for ten years more than someone who works hard and eventually burns out." Henk places the individual at the center and believes in sustainable collaboration. This also means that the weakest member receives the most support, the one who may temporarily lack the capacity to fend for themselves. "We do this as a team, and how we treat everyone is transparent."
Finally, the employees support each other. There are no coaches employed. "Often, they have multiple coaches who don't even communicate with each other. What these employees need is not a job coach but a life coach, even for something as fundamental as a healthy daily routine. And they need an employer who thinks along and gives a chance to these dropouts. The beauty is that they educate each other and discover and invent things together. This group is incredibly intrinsically motivated. When you manage to create a circle of safety, everyone's potential truly emerges.
People from this target group frequently drop out of the regular education system, become self-taught (out of necessity?), but then don't get the opportunity to utilize that knowledge. According to Henk, there are 32,000 highly gifted individuals with autism at home in The Netherlands who don't easily get a chance, let alone have their qualities fully utilized. The team at Aryzon.World proves that.
Henk is clearly impressed with his employees: "I have an employee who wanted to work four days a week to spend one day a week pursuing his master's in mathematics at the Open University in the United Kingdom. He completed it in five years, just one day a week. Isn't that remarkable? I am grateful every day that I can contribute to the development of my exceptional employees."