Why Give a Damn:
The 2014 Unreasonable venture Rising Tide employs people with Autism, a demographic with a 90% unemployment rate. By doing so, they turn a perceived disability into their competitive advantage.
The author of this post, Unreasonable Institute, exists to give entrepreneurs tackling the world’s greatest challenges an “unreasonable advantage.” How do they do this? Each year, they match a dozen carefully vetted ventures from around the world with 50 mentors and 100+ funders at 5-week bootcamps.
What They Do: Rising Tide Car Wash employs people with Autism, a demographic with a 90% unemployment rate. By doing so, they turn a perceived disability into their competitive advantage. Currently, they employ 35 people with autism, which accounts for 80% of their workforce.
How They Make Money: Rising Tide uses a conveyorized car wash system and a traditional car wash business model. The exciting thing is that by employing people with Autism, they help overcome some major problems facing cash washes. 1) They overcome employee turnover problems as people with Autism enjoy working here. 2) They provide a more consistent product as people with Autism are extremely detailed oriented. 3) Because of their mission they can get access to real estate that most car washes would not be able to get.
How They Create Impact: Fueled by a 90% unemployment rate, it is estimated that annual indirect costs for Autistic individuals and their parents range from more than $39,000 to nearly $130,000 and it takes $3.2m (from Harvard School of Public Health) to raise a person with Autism! Rising Tide teach people with Autism how to acquire and hold jobs and to potentially move up within Rising Tide or move on to other jobs and one day live on their own. As for scaling their impact, Rising Tide will both launch new car washes themselves, but also work to bring their methods to other car washes and to other similar industries. Their path to scaling impact is not only in building a big business themselves, but in proving and sharing a model of impact with others and helping them implement it.
Traction to Date
Impact: In all, they’ve employed 82 people with Autism. For most of their employees, this is their first opportunity to hold a job.
Carwashes: 2,700 washes in April 2013, 7,500 washes in December 2013, 10,000 washes in May 2014. 700 monthly club members.
Awards: Best car wash of 2013 in Broward and Palm Beach county. One of America’s 15 most innovative small businesses by Autism Speaks. The Hope Award from TEDxCoconutGrove. Small Business of the Year in Broward County by Disability Connections. Featured on NBC Nightly News in April, 2014.
Team (10 Full Time, 35 Part Time)
Tom D’Eri, Co-Founder & COO: Tom is responsible for ensuring all aspects of operations meet the highest quality standards in the car wash industry and developing systems that will allow us to scale. He’s a summa cum laude graduate of Bentley University with degrees in Economics/Finance and Global Sustainability. While this is the first company he’s founded, he has worked with many other entrepreneurial endeavors from the time he was small boy watching his father, John, successfully launch and grow three businesses.
John D’Eri, Co-Founder & CEO: John is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of the business while ensuring we stay on a profitable path. His career started as a CPA with Wiener & Company and he subsequently successfully built and exited three businesses in litigation support, software development and consumer service. Along the way he received two US patents for litigation support technology he developed.