Xceptional CEO and founder Mike Tozer. Photo: supplied
If you watched the 2018 ABC TV series Employable Me as it followed people with neuro-diverse conditions such as autism and Tourette Syndrome looking for work, then you came across the Xceptional, an IT recruitment firm (that gave Tim a job).
Founded by Mike Tozer as a tech service in 2017, Xceptional quickly evolved into employing people on the spectrum as software testers and data analysts. It set itself an ambitious goal of helping 1000 people find work, having already put 30 candidates in specialised IT roles.
A social impact company that thinks and acts outside the box, Xceptional has just set another first, raising $600,000 in an Australian-first impact-linked loan scheme.
Danny Almagor and Berry Liberman’s Melbourne-based Impact Investment Group (IIG) which runs the Giant Leap Fund, designed and led the funding program, known as Beneficial Outcomes Linked Debt (BOLD), through its Catalyst Foundation.
Xceptional’s loan balance will be reduced by both cash repayments, and the number of people they place in jobs. Tozer plans to use the funds to place 60 more people in work over the next year.
IIG’s cash contribution was topped off by private investor Roslyn Baguley and the loan is backed by Tripple, the Community Impact Foundation, the Disability Impact Fund and the Snow Foundation.
IIG CEO Daniel Madhavan called the BOLD funding a game-changer for social impact businesses.
“For Xceptional, this funding rewards them for growing their business and their impact. The more candidates they place, the more debt we take off the loan,” he said.
“BOLD is tailored for entrepreneurs who are making a difference. It financially incentivises them to keep delivering their social or environmental benefits.
“Often other types of finance, like traditional venture funding, or a loan from a standard finance company, can drag a purpose-driven founder away from their mission and the very reason they started their company. There’s no other type of loan arrangement in Australia like this.”
To date Tozer, Xceptional’s CEO, and his team have focused on placing people in large companies and will now seek to find roles for people on the spectrum in government, startups and SMEs.
“Our growth to date speaks to the incredible opportunity in placing neurodiverse candidates in specialised roles and shattering any stigma around hiring these candidates,” he said.
“Those on the autism spectrum, for example, often have remarkable attention to detail and advanced problem-solving skills, making them ideal candidates for complex code testing tasks.”
Tozer said one of questions he’s most frequently asked by the founders of purpose-driven startups is how to access capital, and BOLD is an effective solution.
“I’ll definitely be pointing people to BOLD from now on,” he said.