Company: Untapped Solutions (formerly ConConnect) serves untapped formerly incarcerated individuals, connects them with inclusive employers, and partners with social enterprises for economic and social empowerment.
HQ Location and Year Founded: New York, 2020
Founder: Andre Peart, founder and CEO, is a social entrepreneur, certified personal trainer, and 3-time crime novelist. He graduated from SUNY Westchester Community College and City University of New York-Lehman College, where he studied communications, journalism, kinesiology, and exercise science.
Funds Raised and VC Investors: $1.1 million from 757 Accelerate, Ascendant Venture, De-Carceration Fund, Juno Capital, Overline, Techstars, Zane Venture Fund, and angel investors
The genesis of Untapped Solutions goes back to my run-in with the justice system. I was incarcerated for six years, but the idea really came from my experience afterwards. It is based on my interactions with social services, public assistance, getting employment, and other things I wasn’t aware of when I reentered society. I eventually got a bachelor’s degree in sports science, but it was a tough time getting employment, assistance, and training. The system is terrible for people who were previously incarcerated. I lived in a shelter for 16 months before I could live independently again. I felt that technology could help fix this issue, and that is why, in 2020, I founded Untapped Solutions, which was then known as ConConnect.
We have several pillars. We are trying to help fix recidivism by focusing on mental health, housing, education, employment, and other areas of need. We are implementing technology to improve social services. Employers connect with caseworkers. We help those in need of housing and other assistance. Case workers are able to handle cases 10 times faster by using our platform. We are helping social services professionals streamline the management of housing, employment, mental health counseling, and other areas in order to reduce recidivism.
We are breaking new ground in some areas. Although there are CRMs like Salesforce on the market, our system allows case workers to remain case workers and helps connect them with vast resources that focus on employment, shelters, vouchers, and finding childcare so single parents can work. We are also providing employers with access to talent and making sure they are connected with caseworkers.
We have raised $1.1 million in VC funding as well as over $300,000 in non-dilutive funding. We have grown our platform to 3,000 organizations. We just turned on paid features and have converted about 30 organizations to paid, of which six are large enterprises. We have connected over 6,000 users to jobs and services in the past 27 months since we launched, and we have saved caseworkers more than 2000 hours in helping their clients.
We will focus on deeper integrations into social services and plan to make inroads with more organizations, including case managers, nonprofits, and enterprises. We expect to roll out a parole product for parole and probation officers. We will also provide greater Salesforce integration and break into more state departments of social services.
Few members of society are more stigmatized than returning formerly incarcerated citizens. Society has offered little leeway for those who have paid their debts within the justice system and are seeking a second chance. Is it any wonder that recidivism rates in the US are estimated at around 68%, with 44% returning to prison within one year? Politicians of many stripes and the constituents who elect them are sadly complicit in this tragedy by focusing on a “tough on crime” attitude that does not actually address root causes or solutions. By not offering proper transition services to help individuals get on their feet through affordable housing, education, employment opportunities, mental health, and adequate social services. Andre Peart is a witness to this and also an example of how formerly incarcerated individuals can return to society and become productive citizens. Untapped Solutions is one important piece of the puzzle by making case workers’ jobs more efficient and productive while also connecting returning citizens with the services that will help them to be independent and remain free. Investors would be wise to track opportunities in the realm of “justice tech,” a significant and largely overlooked market that offers both hope and innovation.