How a lack of understanding of autism led this mother and her son to set up their own web agency

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A web developer and his mother are hoping to establish a full service agency made up of a neuro diverse workforce, after having a bad experience in his first job.

Callum Gamble was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of eight. Despite his condition, Mr Gamble graduated with a first class honours in creative media technology from Leeds Beckett University earlier this year.

Callum Gamble, right, with his mother Caren Launus-Gamble. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Callum Gamble, right, with his mother Caren Launus-Gamble. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

He managed to secure employment at a web development agency not long after but lasted only three weeks at the business.

Mr Gamble says that even though he disclosed the fact that he had autism at the interview, the business made unreasonable demands. He ended up being “humiliated in front of the entire office” at one point by a line manager.

“I had a chat with him the following day about that and he got really defensive,” Mr Gamble told The Yorkshire Post. “Then I knew I was fighting a losing battle. That’s when me and the company parted ways.”

His mother, Caren Launus-Gamble, then decided that it would be best if they went into business together and launched KreativeInk from their home near Leeds. She does the copywriting while her son designs and develops websites.

Callum Gamble, right, with Simon Cocking, chief executive of Leodis Wealth. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Callum Gamble, right, with Simon Cocking, chief executive of Leodis Wealth. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

The business was set up in July and currently has four live clients. However, Ms Launus-Gamble has ambitious plans for KreativeInk.

She said: “We want to ultimately create a business that accommodates other neuro divergent talent. Whether that’s people with autism, ADHD, dyslexia or dyspraxia. There are a lot of web developers who are autistic. They would be perfect for us.

“We’d like to create a full service agency that has a neuro diverse workforce – neurotypical and neuro divergent people working together.”

Businesses are missing out on “an extraordinary talent pool of people that think differently and have different perspectives”, according to Ms Launus-Gamble.

Callum Gamble delivers a presentation to Phil Organ, director at Leodis Wealth and chief executive Simon Cocking. 'Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Callum Gamble delivers a presentation to Phil Organ, director at Leodis Wealth and chief executive Simon Cocking. 'Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

One of KreativeInk’s clients is the Leeds-based asset management firm Leodis Wealth. Chief executive Simon Cocking says the business had to make very few adjustments to work with Mr Gamble.

He added: “The only change you have to make is to allow a bit more time in terms of presentations. Don’t put people under pressure. That’s not our business anyway.”

In fact Phil Organ, a director at Leodis Wealth, views working with someone who has autism as a positive.

He said: “I saw it as a real bonus because it meant that we had to try to be as clear as possible about what people were trying to achieve, which isn’t always easy in the world that we operate in.

Caren Launus-Gamble and Callum Gamble talk to Leodis Wealth about their website.'Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Caren Launus-Gamble and Callum Gamble talk to Leodis Wealth about their website.'Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“We had to be very focused as to what we wanted. It was very helpful to get us to the end result, which is a great website.”

Growing up with autism hasn’t been easy for Mr Gamble. He was bullied at school as a result of his condition.

“Because I was a bit slower at processing information, they took advantage of that,” he says.

Mr Gamble discovered his love for web developing while on work experience at a media agency.

He said: “Designing websites is my passion. It’s like a lifestyle and it doesn’t really feel like work. I want to create visually stunning websites.” Initially, he did not think setting up a business with his mother would pay off.

But now both are hoping to grow KreativeInk into an inclusive agency employing 12 people. Mr Gamble says he is enjoying working with his mum.

He added: “We’ve always had a great relationship. Whether she’s been giving me support for my school work or my university work.

“We just really gel when we work together.”

His advice to businesses when it comes to employing people with autism is to see the potential that they have.

“No matter how much time it takes to get that potential out,” he says, “it will pay dividends in the end.”

Start-up needs funding

The next step for Callum Gamble and KreativeInk is to find some office space as well as adding another web developer but the start-up requires funds.

Caren Launus-Gamble said: “Callum is coding from his bedroom. It’s not good for his mental health to be encased in his bedroom.”

The business came into contact with Leodis after Ms Launus-Gamble went to a Forward Ladies networking event.

“A former employee of Leodis was with me at that networking event,” she said. “She contacted me afterwards and invited me for a meeting because Leodis were looking to completely redesign the website.”