Monday, August 31, 2015

Interview with Steve Andrews Founder of @PlatinumBay

One of the biggest obstacles autistic adults face is acquiring gainful employment. It is hard to find an accurate statistic, but from the research that I have done the numbers of autistic adults that are employed can fall as low as 50%. None went over 55%. That percentage is grim, but they look even more bleak when compared to the stats of other disabled adults. While the numbers may have been presented differently on various sites the one thing that I found they all had in common were that they all stated that autistic adults had the highest unemployment rate of any of the other disabilities.

While those facts seem depressing, there is a company that is wanting to change them around by employing autistic adults.  When I heard of the good work Platinum Bay was doing I found it intriguing. I wanted to know more about the company, and how it all came to be, so I interviewed the founder, and executive director Steve Andrews.

Me: What is Platinum Bay? What services do you provide?

Steve: Platinum Bay is a first-of-its-kind software company designed from the ground up to hire Autistic people and creates safe and empowering career opportunities to maximize their extraordinary talents and abilities. Our services include custom business software development and technical leadership for mid-sized and enterprise companies. We reduce long-term code cost so companies can spend less time maintaining and more time innovating.

 Platinum Bay also has a first-of-its-kind hybrid business model: a limited profit / for-purpose corporation designed for maximum impact. We are incorporated as a California Social Purpose Corporation, which combines for-profit operations with public, transparent accountability. We have also formally adopted a non-profit financial model, and all net profit is reinvested into the company in pursuit of our mission, and we will be creating a corporate grant writing foundation to help fill in the gaps in the Autism ecosystem.

Me:  What role do you play within the company?

Steve: I am the Founder and Executive Director.

Me: What jobs have you had prior to starting Platinum Bay?

Steve: I have been a self-taught software engineer for sixteen years, and I’ve worked at a number of companies including Microsoft. I was also a Microsoft MVP award recipient for four years prior to joining Microsoft. Before re-discovering computers, I had a wide range of jobs: dishwasher, tow truck driver, auto mechanic, package courier, waiter, short order cook, retail clerk, janitor, security, construction, delivery driver, petroleum distribution engineer (gas station attendant)…

Me:  I see that you have been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. How old were you, and how did that shape, or change your path in in life?