#65 — Breaking down barriers around disability, entrepreneurship, and doughnuts w/ Naitik Mehta

Naitik began his entrepreneurial journey in 6th grade when aunt taught him how to use a graphic design program. At age 13 he was hired by a start up to do their design work, and from there he built up a roster of freelance clients. By the time he was in high-school, Naitik started his own design studio with his brother, working with clients around the world. Naitik then travelled from India to Vancouver to study at Emily Carr, without knowing much about Canada or what he was getting himself into.

During his first internship at Microsoft, Naitik has the opportunity to work with a visually impaired engineer named Kartik, who was denied from India’s top tech university due to his disability. He went on to receive a full scholarship from Stanford University to study Computer Science, AI and Machine Learning, and is now a full-time engineer at Microsoft. Together Kartik and Naitik began to discuss the need for support for disabled people in the tech industry, and so they decided to start ’Next Billion’ to fill the gap. ‘Next Billion’ has grown from a side project to a full-blown entrepreneurial endevor to connect people with disabilities who work in engineering, product design, data science, and product management to mentors in the industry and employers willing to hire inclusively.

Naitik’s ultimate goal is to irradicate the need for ‘Next Billion’, and that disabilities no longer carry stigma in the hiring process.

“There are 1.3 billion people in the world who have a disability, and in the US and Canada this population makes up 15 % of the workforce. They are at least 2.6 times as likely to be unemployed due to the stigma and the barriers that they face. However, there are so many advantages to hiring people with disabilities. They have an 85% higher job retention rate, because they value employers who are willing to hire them, and they are proven to be equally, or even more productive compared to employees without disabilities…There is this huge population that is skilled, and is not being given equal access to opportunities”

Sign up for AWOL: A Weekend of Leisure
www.movement108.com/goawol

Resources:

Spring Accelerator Program
spring.is

Next Billion
www.nextbillion.org

Where Naitik loves to eat:

Honey Doughnuts
www.honeydoughnuts.com

Bandidas Taqueria
www.bandidastaqueria.com

Sala Thai
www.salathai.ca

Nuba
www.nuba.ca

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