How does Mentra help recruiters?

The Mentra platform seeks to address the the difficulty in the job finding process by providing a platform specifically dedicated to helping employers recruit, hire and retain neurodiverse candidates to improve the level of inclusion of neurodiversity in the workplace. Mentra’s key innovation lies in this proprietary dataset that captures valuable relationships between characteristics of neurodivergent candidates and workplace environments. In order to incentivize employers to recruit, hire and retain inclusively, Mentra aims to lower corporate overhead by providing as much candidate information as possible through the single page profile, so employers don’t need to conduct several interviews and fly out every candidate in person to vet them.

How did Mentra come into fruition?

In 2019, a team of us at Georgia Tech founded a startup to empower neurodiverse communities to find meaningful employment through our app, Mentra. As a culmination of our disability advocacy, we've grown our team to over 17 mission-driven volunteers. Using principles of human centered design and with a team led by passionate neurodivergents, our solution aims to leverage artificial intelligence to learn and understand our users and bridge the gap between autistic communities and inclusive employers with an app-curated roadmap. The team spent 14 months researching, partnering and working with different groups to understand issues candidates and recruiters face in filling employment needs.

How does Mentra help autistic individuals?

The Mentra platform seeks to address these barriers to employment by providing a platform that bridges the gap between candidates and employers aiming to recruit, hire and retain neurodiverse candidates to improve the level of inclusion of neurodiversity in the workplace. When candidates sign up to join Mentra, they are guided to complete a single, gamified and robust questionnaire and provide us with data that enables the Mentra matching algorithm to evaluate different job postings and find good matches based on factors such as environmental preferences, company values, candidate personality and daily tasks. Based on this information, the platform generates a Mentra Profile and enables candidates to focus their efforts on meaningful learning activities, growing their workforce readiness skills and improving their employer discoverability, rather than spending all of that time endlessly applying to roles. While the Mentra platform serves to guide their career development pathway through mentorship and training resources, the database serves as a centralized talent pipeline for employers. 

How did our team evolve?

The Mentra team set out to develop a platform to address these issues plaguing employers and individuals with IDD in the employment process. Mentra’s Founder, Jhillika Kumar, who has a non-speaking brother diagnosed with autism, founded AxisAbility, LLC in 2019 to empower autistic individuals to contribute meaningfully to society through the workforce. This effort grew from Jhillika’s research experiences at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing, working with Professors Gregory Abowd and Dr. Rosa Arriaga to study technology-led communicative techniques for autism. Jhillika, along with her co-founder, Conner Reinhardt, deepened their understanding of the autistic community and learned about cutting edge autism research and disability advocacy through observational sessions at schools, advocacy meetings and therapy centers. In 2019, Jhillika was awarded the Anita.b Student of Vision Abie Award, speaking as a keynote speaker at the Grace Hopper Conference to an audience of over 15,000 primarily female technologists and company recruiters. She drew on her vision of a future where neurodiverse individuals are valued for their strengths in the workforce and as the call to action, she invited diversity and inclusion employers to directly access the Mentra talent pipeline to pioneer the neurodiverse movement at their firms.

 

After Jhillika delivered a talk about creating accessible technologies for individuals with disabilities at TEDxGeorgiaTech, several members of the institution approached her with a passion for disability advocacy and inclusion and applying technology to advance the capabilities of the neurodiverse population. When the team presented at the Autism @ Work employer roundtable, the team was connected with Sebastien La Duca, who is an autistic self-advocate completing his electrical engineering degree at Carnegie Mellon. He joined the team and took the role of Lead Engineer as he led a team of 6 developers. The team also has five other members: Rishma Mendhakar (Lead Designer), Shea Belsky (Software Engineer), Ian Moura (User Researcher), Radha Kathathil (Product Manager), Nandita Gupta (Accessibility Researcher) and Eren Neiderhoffer (Outreach Director and Self-Advocate). Eren serves as the president of Autism Self advocacy of Atlanta, a chapter of the nation-wide organization, Autism Self Advocacy Network. All members of AxisAbility, LLC that have been working on Mentra have been mission-driven volunteers.