Posted Sep. 11, 2017 at 7:53 a.m.

Startup profile: Notable, an app to help employers find, retain handicapped employees (+ video)

Published: 2017-09-11 07:53:48
Updated: 2017-09-11 07:53:48


A Charlotte-based startup is aiming to tackle both sides of the problem facing handicapped who want to find workers and employers who want to find, train and retain talented employees who have "barriers to employment."

The goal of Notable is a substantial one:

Lindsey Haaser"To close the economic opportunity gap by changing the way companies source, hire, and retain people with known barriers to employment."

How?

Through a platform veteran entrepreneur CEO Lindsey Haaser, who started one of the first disability-only staffing and recruiting firms, says provides:

  • Built-in feedback loop gathers critical data points to track needs and intervention results
  • Companies will save time, energy, and money by shifting their focus from disability awareness to contextual action
  • Champions will be grown organically at all levels of the company emboldened by real-time supports
  • Inclusion efforts will be sustainable because critical resources are embedded in the platform and does not rely on the knowledge of disability experts or outside consultants
  • First big data set about what works and what doesn’t in disability employment

This profile is one of a series featuring companies participating in the CED Tech Venture Conference in Raleigh on Sept. 19-20. The features are written, edited and published by WRAL TechWire in partnership with the CED.


Profile: Notable

The Q&A:

  • What is the focus of your business?

To close the economic opportunity gap by changing the way companies source, hire, and retain people with known barriers to employment.

  • What is the top pain point/business application you are seeking to address?

One in 5 people have a disability

92% of people with disabilities are un- or underemployed

67% of people feel uncomfortable when talking to someone with a disability

74% of people would rather lose their job than ask for a reasonable accommodation

The Notable processWhat can you do when you don’t even know what to say?

Benefits of [our] Notable App:

  1. Built-in feedback loop gathers critical data points to track needs and intervention results
  2. Companies will save time, energy, and money by shifting their focus from disability awareness to contextual action
  3. Champions will be grown organically at all levels of the company emboldened by real-time supports
  4. Inclusion efforts will be sustainable because critical resources are embedded in the platform and does not rely on the knowledge of disability experts or outside consultants
  5. First big data set about what works and what doesn’t in disability employment
  • What makes it unique?

Our Notable platform flips the existing model from a push to a pull. We replace a broken system (i.e. “the middle man”) with technology and a process that strategically aligns skills with opportunities.  As a result, companies are given direct access to a pipeline of candidates and the tools they need to match the right person with the right job. 

By crowdsourcing professional development, we can scale our efforts and reduce the time it takes for someone to find a good job match.

Our only “competition” is the federally-funded Vocational Rehabilitation agency that hasn’t changed it’s process in over 40 years. In 2014, taxpayers spent $3,744,623,947 on VR services.  This led to only 175,897 people with disabilities working for a minimum of 90 days, earning an average of $355.00 per week. The federal government categorizes these as “successful” outcomes, seemingly unaware of or untroubled by the fact that the annual wage falls below the Federal Poverty Rate in most states.

When you consider the federal government spent 21,000 to help people with disabilities get jobs earning $18,000, the need for fiscally responsible, alternative solutions becomes crystal clear. As a market-driven solution, Notable does not rely on federal subsidies and leverages crowdsourcing to expedite and create access to opportunities that are currently out of reach.

  • Why should investors be interested in your firm?

Over the past two years, we used a series of design sprints to test out critical assumptions regarding the use and implementation of Notable within a business environment.  This enabled us to engage our ideal customers very early in the design process.  We focused on their existing challenges and the outcomes they wanted to achieve.  This strategy gave us the flexibility to innovate within these parameters and helped us prioritize features that would create buy-in (and future sales).

Also, I believe my big vision and background make Notable an interesting investment.

Proven past performance: At the age of 25, I saw a business opportunity in the midst of the global financial crisis.  Even though jobs were vanishing, companies still had work to do and they turned to contingent labor.

As a result, in 2009 I started one of the first disability-only staffing and recruiting firms. While the competition was focused on quantity, Advocations focused on quality and matching the right people with the right jobs. To Advocations, staffing was a trojan horse to help people with disabilities bypass the traditional hiring process and get jobs that were once out of reach. In an industry where the average turnover is 383%, Advocations turnover was 8% and companies began to take notice.

Today, Advocations leads the employment strategy for National Autism Speaks, has several fortune 500 customers, and has sourced thousands of people with disabilities nationwide. I have assembled a dynamic team with more than 100 years of cumulative experience in employment, assistive technology, peer support and business. Most of the team, including me, have personal experience with disability allowing us to bring an added understanding about the social impacts of disability labeling and the passion to move beyond.

I have a degree in Computer Science/Psychology from University of Virginia, a master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from the Medical College of Virginia at VCU, and I currently attend the Executive Education Program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

  • How are you financed at this point?

Self-funded development through revenues of Advocations, a disability-focused staffing and recruiting firm started by Notable founder, Lindsey, in 2009.

Autism Speaks provided us with $35,000 of funding for a series of design sprints. Over a period of 6 months, we presented at 5 conferences, engaged 41 business executives, and supported 33 individuals on the autism spectrum in design sprint activities.


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