November 26, 2013

Shaping the Market

Together with Rich Donovan ’02, Brian Dawson ’99 has built Fifth Quadrant Analytics, which rates firms based on economic drivers specific to people with disabilities.

In December 2010, Brian Dawson ’99 sought to ascend Argentina’s Mt. Aconcagua. But at 21,000 feet, he and his group were hit by a“perfect storm”: Temperatures 40 degrees below zero and winds of 100 mph stranded them for three days.“When I got back,” he recalls,“my wife suggested I take a break from climbing.”

Columbia Connection
Founded his business with Rich Donovan ’02; in launch, got advice from Professor Bruce Greenwald

Needless to say, Dawson is no stranger to challenges. So when Rich Donovan ’02 presented him with the idea to help companies transform disability compliance into a growth opportunity, Dawson accepted. “I very much admired his approach, which was unyieldingly rigorous,” says Dawson. “I thought, ‘Here’s a market we can define, shape, and grow.’

Together, they’ve built Fifth Quadrant Analytics, which rates firms based on economic drivers specific to people with disabilities. Bloomberg publishes their indices, which track the best public companies in this space — an area comprising 1.3 billion people and trillions in disposable income.“It qualifies as a significant emerging market,” says Dawson, “with immense positive social ramifications.”