1. What are the key elements of the Ventures ATL business model?
Ventures ATL is the employer and provides a work environment in the Atlanta area which specifically supports the strengths and abilities of our employees. We operate a portfolio of small businesses that fit the job skills and interests of many within the groups we seek to employ. This enables us to provide meaningful employment to suitably skilled individuals who may otherwise struggle to find jobs. While we encourage the success of any channel (such as a training or placement approach) that may provide jobs for the targeted population, we believe that our model (Ventures ATL as the employer) effectively promotes sustainable employment.
2. What are the backgrounds of the Ventures ATL founders and board members?
The Ventures ATL Board consists of a group of people who are committed to providing meaningful employment opportunities for adults with autism or other developmental disabilities. This group has been carefully drawn to provide diverse perspectives on the business and operational issues essential to the success of such an enterprise. Included among the members of the Board are:
- A former PwC partner, attorney, and business consultant with extensive experience in developing jobs for adults on the autism spectrum
- The senior marketing and business development executive for a leading consumer products company
- The leader of the technology practice in a global consulting firm
- An attorney with the lead management role in a health care organization
- The statewide leader of a major organization proving support to people on the autism spectrum
- Individuals who have been deeply involved in personal development opportunities for autistic adults
- An experienced leader of successful nonprofit organizations
3. How have the Ventures ATL businesses been selected?
There are three main selection criteria for our lines of business. First, we choose businesses for which we anticipate reasonable demand for the products and services we deliver. Second, we select businesses with job skill requirements that line up with the areas of strength of many adults on the autism spectrum (e.g. attention to detail, focus, affinity for repetitive tasks, strong capacity to execute prescribed tasks). Third, we choose businesses and jobs that are likely to produce job satisfaction for our targeted employees. These factors are consistent with our view that our long-term success will come from our ability to meet the genuine commercial or operational needs of our clients while creating jobs that suit the skills and interest of our employees.
4. Which businesses does Ventures ATL operate?
We will operate two businesses in 2017.
The first business involves the provision of data entry and related services. Many enterprises wrestle with the threshold entry of data into various applications or data repositories. This issue is particularly acute with respect to raw or unstructured data. We fill a niche in this highly fragmented provider market as an organization that uses an underutilized domestic talent pool to provide top-quality service at a competitive price. The data entry business represents a very good fit for many adults on the autism spectrum as their ability to provide sustained focus on information and data in a highly literal way makes them particularly effective in this role.
The second service line is a product fulfillment business in which we handle the traditional “pick, pack, label, and ship” functions along with some selected customization. This business is being launched with the support of a major consumer products company that will provide some of the initial training and process expertise. Ventures ATL will apply this process expertise to a wide array of enterprises who may have similar product fulfillment requirements for customers, employees or other stakeholders.
Operating a portfolio of businesses will enable Ventures ATL to provide jobs to a wider range of employees in the targeted population than we can reach by operating a single service line. We will consider adding new lines of business as dictated by market demand.
5. What are the main value propositions for these businesses?
In general, the value propositions are those which apply to any commercial enterprise – provide a high quality service or product at a competitive price in the time and manner that meets the needs of our customers. We recognize that engaging with Ventures ATL may have a certain corporate social responsibility element by providing jobs to an underutilized but capable domestic resource. However, it is critical that our engagements with customers support their primary business objectives and specific needs.
6. Has the Ventures ATL business model been successfully deployed in other places?
The key elements of this business model have been successfully deployed in other parts of the United States.
The concept of operating a portfolio of businesses to create the desired skills fit for a sizeable portion of the targeted population has been successfully implemented. There are several organizations that have successfully employed adults on the autism spectrum to perform software testing and related quality assurance (QA) work. We anticipate that the positive skill fit (attention to detail, focus, etc.) that has enabled such enterprises to succeed will apply to the same degree in our data entry and fulfillment businesses.
7. How and where is the work of Ventures ATL performed?
The employees of Ventures ATL work under the direction of a management staff with the expertise required to deliver outcomes that meet the needs of our customers. The management staff is carefully selected to combine the technical skills required in our businesses as well the interpersonal skills to support and interact with our employees. Given our focus, we are more attentive than traditional employers to the creation of a suitable work environment for these individuals. Ventures ATL operates at a single, central location in the Atlanta area (201 Allen Road, Atlanta GA. 30328) which is accessible via public transportation.
8. How are Ventures ATL employees selected and trained?
In the Atlanta area, there is a large number of adults with autism and other disabilities who will be interested in the types of jobs that we are targeting at Ventures ATL. It is widely estimated that 80% of adults on the autism spectrum are either unemployed or underemployed. Ventures ATL utilizes several recruitment channels (schools, government agencies, private training organizations, traditional and social media) to attract a wide pool of qualified potential candidates. We engage in a careful screening and selection process to determine the ability to perform the job tasks as well as the actual interest in and commitment to the jobs.
Employees of Ventures ATL receive training by our managerial staff prior to the time that they begin to work on client engagements. This training develops and determines readiness to perform the essential job requirements as well as the appropriate client and team assignments.
9. When will Ventures ATL operate these businesses?
Ventures ATL will deliver services on behalf of its customers during the first half of 2017. Our business model reflects an extensive planning and evaluation process to create a foundation and framework for a successful enterprise.
10. How do customers engage with Ventures ATL?
Customers engage with Ventures ATL as they would with any other commercial business partner or service provider. We expect to enter into traditional Master Service Agreements (MSAs) with our customers that include terms and conditions that are appropriate and customary. Specific engagements may be performed pursuant to Statements of Work (SOWs) with appropriate Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to reflect the needs of our customers.
Our goal is to establish commercial relationships with valued customers that enable us to perform services on a recurring and consistent basis. However, we are open to any scenario which allows us to both establish our capacity to meet the needs of our customers and determine the most appropriate type(s) of engagements for each situation.
11. How is Ventures ATL incorporated and structured?
Ventures ATL has been established as a Domestic Nonprofit Corporation under Georgia law. We have received recognition of tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The implications of this structure are as follows. The assets and energies of this organization are fully dedicated to the achievement of its core mission of providing sustainable jobs to our target population rather than creating a financial return to investors. Donations from individuals and/or foundations to Ventures ATL are tax-deductible.
However, while we are structured as a nonprofit for the reasons described above, we believe that our organization’s enduring success is tied to our application of disciplines and practices typically found in successful for-profit business enterprises. Thus we will maintain a focus on identifying areas where the skills of our employees can be deployed to produce true business value to our customers in areas of genuine commercial demand.