Autism Entrepreneurs Center to Help ASD Adults Start Up and Run Real Businesses

HENDERSON, Nevada (updated December 13, 2012) — The first session of LTO Ventures’ Autism Entrepreneurs Center will get underway on Jan. 10, 2013 from 2 to 4pm at the Autism Center of Southern Nevada offices, 72 N. Pecos Road, Suite C, Henderson, NV.  ASD adults aged 18 and older are invited to attend.  There is no cost for this session.  Parents, family, caregivers or agency personnel who assist individuals to attend must remain for the duration of the session.

The mission of the Center is to give ASD adults the specific guidance, tools and resources they need to create, launch and run their own real for-profit or non-profit companies.  We plan to pilot the program in Nevada with the first-year goal of creating 12 new incorporated businesses and putting up to 100 ASD adults to work making minimum wage or better in businesses they own.

We also hope to create two affiliated opportunities: 1) use the guidance to create partnerships between ASD adults and typical adults to jointly launch and run businesses; and, 2) to encourage these businesses to work collaboratively to share resources and foster other business development through the creation of “business incubators” in their cities.

We believe there are ASD adults who have great ideas and don’t want to wait for a job to be given to them; instead they want to create and work in their own business setting bringing their own ideas to fruition.  But like many typical individuals, they don’t know how or where to start.  This Center proposes to pick up where job development support groups, short-term vocational training, and employment toolkits end and provide the step-by-step guidance, tools and resources to create and operate real small businesses.

Aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to simulate the experience of starting and running a business through our Introductory Workshop.  The Workshop is a multi-session, low-pressure classroom-style exercise adapted from a program developed by the BizWorld Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper.  The highly-acclaimed BizWorld 3.0 simulation was created to give typical students in grades 3-8 an opportunity to learn the basics of business and entrepreneurship.  Autism Entrepreneurs Center will develop and conduct the Workshop jointly with ASD adults and typical individuals to see how they absorb the lessons and experiences, and how the groups work individually and collaboratively.

We also are pleased to have the support of Achievement Academy / Autism Center of Southern Nevada, Grant-a-Gift Autism Foundation, Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Each of these collaborating organizations is tackling a piece of the vocational and employment issue for ASD individuals, and we look forward to building on and learning from their successes.

Anyone or any organization interested in getting involved or providing support to the Autism Entrepreneurs Center should call or email Mark Olson.

The Autism Entrepreneurs Center will begin to take shape this summer and hopes to be accelerated by a grant beginning early 2013.  The following deliverables would be produced with the funding:

  1. Autism Entrepreneurs Startup GuideBook – a detailed, extensively-sourced interactive workbook that guides the ASD adult and others step-by-step through the process of establishing, funding, launching and running a new real business. The book will be available as a downloadable PDF or accessible online.
  2. Autism Entrepreneurs Startup Website – an interactive site featuring an online, interactive version of the GuideBook, case studies of successes, a directory of resources, a comment area where people can share tips, tricks, resources, stories, questions, etc.
  3. Autism Entrepreneurs Facebook Fan Page – an interactive and robust presence on Facebook, with links to the other resources.
  4. Autism Entrepreneurs Startup Webinar – to introduce the GuideBook, website, and Facebook page and to answer questions about them.
  5. Real Jobs – in actual startup small businesses paying minimum wage or better for ASD adults in Southern Nevada.

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