An interview with Tim Wegner, Co-Founder of Workist

What do our members and innovators think about German Mittelstand? What problems do they see? Where can Maschinenraum help and which projects do they implement together with us? An interview with Tim Wegner, Co-Founder of Workist.

interview | 08.12.2020

Dear Tim, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your Startup Workist.

My name is Tim and I am one of three founders of Workist, an AI company on a mission to eliminate the annoying, inefficient and hair-raising work in back offices through automation. By automating document-heavy processes and repetitive office work, we want to give people back the time to do what they love and what matters most for their business. Before founding Workist, we already grew a B2B startup called Minodes together, a leading European Retail Analytics company with around 50 employees, which was acquired by Telefónica in 2017. Before my entrepreneurial activities, I worked as Management Consultant with a focus on Digitalization with McKinsey & Company after my studies of Physics at TU Munich, Imperial College London and MIT.

Tell us a bit more about Workist. Why did you found it and what are your future plans?

At the end of 2018 me and my co-founders asked ourselves: How can we actually transfer the topic of AI to work and automate it. And by this we mean the work that no one likes to do, like filling out endless forms and typing up email orders. The steam engine has revolutionized manual work. Workist revolutionizes intelligent work and administrative processes through AI as it creates the possibility to automate whole processes and, by this, scale intelligence and knowledge work. That’s what we believe in and why we founded Workist in the first place. That being said, we first tried to identify the work steps that cause a lot of manual work, are very strenuous, but at the same time very similar in their processes. In early 2019, we conducted many interviews, among others with Daimler, Deutsche Bahn and several medium-sized companies who are now our clients, to get a better insight into their processes. The result: Especially in medium-sized companies the ordering processes are very manual, sometimes complex and thus predestined for automation through AI. We have therefore developed an AI that addresses this problem and is also very easy to train. This is important for the ongoing process and the implementation in the operating system of medium-sized companies. As a result, SMEs are much more efficient and have more money for research to keep up with their competition from Asia.

What is your perspective on German Mittelstand?

German medium-sized businesses are unique and a major competitive advantage of Germany as a business location. Medium-sized companies are per se particularly good at concentrating on what made them successful in the first place. However, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Family businesses have been perfecting manufacturing processes for 100 years. That is one reason why words and claims like "German Engineering" or "Made in Germany" are so popular and likewise a true seal of quality. The problem: the long-term focus on engineering such processes to perfection makes the changeover all the more difficult. Nowadays, however, it is above all important to recognize opportunities of the digital age, try out new ideas and, if necessary, discard or adopt them quickly. But the zeitgeist does not correspond to the mentality of traditional German SMEs. This makes it all the more important to share common experiences in order to accelerate innovation cycles and democratize costs. This is exactly what Maschinenraum does – and we at Workist too.

Why did you decide to become part of Maschinenraum?

In my opinion, the rationale of Maschinenraum – to promote innovation through shared cooperation in medium-sized companies – is not only a very exciting concept, but above all one that is totally promising. After all, from my experiences, the willingness to innovate is particularly high in family-run companies. Despite their historically grown structures and their size, their speed is many times higher in comparison to DAX companies, for example, because landmark top-down decisions can be made more quickly at an owner-run business. We notice this here at Maschinenraum as well when working with the members - everyone is willing to question themselves and thus facilitate innovation. It feels like one family of like-minded people.

The best thing about Maschinenraum in one sentence?

So simple, yet so powerful: It’s the perfect office paired with a really good coffee house, where you can always meet visionaries and future-minded people that are willing to challenge the status quo.

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