Ultranauts: How This Software Company Is Promoting Neurodiversity

By Amit Chowdhry ● August 9, 2019
  • Ultranauts — a quality engineering startup employing talent on the autism spectrum — recently announced it closed $3.5 million in Series A

Ultranauts (formerly ULTRA Testing) — a quality engineering startup employing talent on the autism spectrum — recently announced it closed $3.5 million in Series A funding. SustainVC and The Disability Opportunity Fund led this round of funding. And they are joining a diverse group of impact investors including The Libra Foundation (investment facilitated by Candide Group), Social Venture Network, Wasabi Ventures, Moai Capital (headed by Emergence Capital Founder Brian Jacobs), Cognizant Vice Chairman Francisco D’Souza, Bain & Company Chief Talent Officer Russ Hagey, and advocate and philanthropist Lisa Yang.

“We are beyond thrilled to have led this round for Ultranauts,” said SustainVC general principal Eric Chapman. “The management team is driven, the talent pool is exceptional, and the mission is inspiring. Ultranauts has completely reimagined how a company hires, manages and develops talent, all while outcompeting global IT firms. It’s a rare feat and we’re excited to help this team grow.”

Launched in 2013 by MIT engineers Rajesh Anandan and Art Shectman, PSM I, SA, Ultranauts has been on a mission to prove that neurodiversity (including autism) is a competitive advantage in business. The company provides a full suite of software and data quality engineering services to Fortune 500 and startup clients. And it has built the world’s first fully remote workplace for neurodiverse talent. Today there are Ultranauts working in 20 states across the U.S., 75% of whom are on the autism spectrum, and many of whom have heightened abilities that are a perfect match for quality engineering  (e.g. focus, pattern recognition, logical reasoning, and systems thinking)

Ultranauts has grown more than 50% annually since its founding and is accelerating thus exceeding 70% YOY growth in Q4 2018 and 100% YOY growth in Q1 2019. Ultranauts’ exceptional neurodiverse team, inclusive business practices, and specialized quality services including UI and API test automation, data and analytics hygiene and accuracy, and web and app accessibility have been fueling this growth.

“While big data, ML and AI represent tremendous opportunities to drive value across the enterprise, they also create complex challenges and hidden risks,” added Ultranauts CEO Rajesh Anandan. “Ensuring the quality and compliance of today’s products and platforms requires a combination of exceptional talent and cutting edge tools, which the Ultranauts team is uniquely suited for. With this round of funding, we’re excited to expand our capabilities in data quality engineering to drive the growth of our business, and share our learnings vis-a-vis managing neurodiverse teams with other employers to multiply our social impact.”

Ultranauts has been proving the advantage of its business model — and when benchmarked — it has delivered dramatically superior results for clients. One Ultranauts team outperformed IBM and discovered 56% more defects for a Fortune 100 financial services firm. And another displaced CapGemini at an insurtech startup and substantially increased test coverage.

The aforementioned funding round will be deployed to accelerate the company’s growth and impact, including investments in R&D, training and sales to aid the company’s further expansion into data quality engineering. And R&D will focus on developing specialized services to improve data quality in highly regulated and rapidly evolving industries, and training will focus on compressing the timeframe for exceptional neurodiverse talent to develop into high performing quality engineering teams.