Aug 22, 2017

Startup aims to be a LinkedIn for job seekers with a criminal record

David Goldman / AP

We attended the first leg of Y Combinator's "demo day," its twice-a-year event at which startups participating in its accelerator program present their businesses in front of a room of investors and journalists. One startup that stood out was 70MillionJobs: a job-placement service for folks with a criminal record.

The opportunity: 70 million Americans have criminal records, according to the company (hence its name). Most of the current organizations helping them with employment are small non-profits. 70MillionJobs founder and CEO Richard Bronson believes there is an opportunity to build a large for-profit service. "This population is having their moment," Bronson told Axios.

The startup addresses a number of issues for job seekers, employers and cities aiming to cut back on recidivism by ensuring former inmates can find work:

  • Good job candidates might not pass background checks: 70MillionJobs can connect these candidates with employers that may hire them despite their background, says Bronson.
  • Bronson says that in some cases these candidates are even better suited for certain jobs because they're used to working hard and following directions.
  • In addition to helping employers find candidates (they're currently paying the company $250 when they hire a candidate),it's also in the best interest of municipalities for convicts to get jobs. 70MillionJobs ran a test program with the City of Los Angeles recently.

The backstory:

For Bronson, his company's mission is a personal one. Once living the high life on Wall Street (including some time working for the infamous Stratton Oakmont firm portrayed in

Wolf of Wall Street

), he found himself in prison for securities fraud after founding his own firm. Since getting out, he's spent time working with organizations that helps convicts get back on their feet, including as a director at Defy Ventures. A year ago he left to start working on 70MillionJobs.

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Police officers grapple with protesters in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd spread nationwide on Friday evening and continued into Saturday.

The big picture: Police responded over the weekend in force, in cities ranging from Salt Lake City to Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., Denver and Louisville. Large crowds gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday for the fourth day in a row.

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

Massive demonstrations put police response to unrest in the spotlight

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The response of some officers during demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. has been criticized for being excessive by some officials and Black Lives Matter leaders.

Why it matters: The situation is tense across the U.S., with reports of protesters looting and burning buildings. While some police have responded with restraint and by monitoring the protests, others have used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and other devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.