An online service to help people with mobility difficulties or a disability find accessible holiday properties has been co-founded by Oxford MBA alumnus Srin Madipalli. With ambitions to be the next Expedia or Airbnb for the mobility sector, Accomable provides a platform to connect travellers with suitable properties worldwide.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy has not prevented Srin Madipalli from travelling the world. Together with his friend and cofounder Martyn Sibley, who has the same condition, he has had many adventures including scuba diving, flying a plane, wheelchair trekking through mountains and a camping safari in Africa. In 2011 Srin travelled the world for 6 months but found it really hard to organise suitable accessible accommodation, medical equipment, transportation and other things that he required.
Srin and Martyn already ran an online magazine called Disability Horizons with 40,000 readers per month, but their travel experiences led them to think that they could do better than just providing advice in a magazine. Their idea was to build something that would make travel easy for anyone with a mobility problem or disability.
They began to work on the proposition and business model. Srin learnt to code and built the online platform and in April 2015 Accomable launched a prototype site with 40 properties listed across the UK, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, USA and the Czech Republic – with many more due to come online soon.
While Srin has faced issues inherent to all new start-ups he credits his time at Oxford Saïd and the resources available to him in getting Accomable to the launch stage.
In 2013 he won a Skoll Venture Award worth £20,000 which has gone towards development of the site; he was an Entrepreneurial Fellow at the Entrepreneurship Centre; and he learnt about management of early stage investing as a member of the School’s student-run Seed Fund committee.
We would like to overcome some of the common issues encountered (by travellers with diablities) by offering not only accommodation, but also transportation, hire of specialist equipment & details of medical suppliers
When Srin was on the MBA programme, the GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford) theme that year was on demographic shifts and the business and policy implications created by the long term trend towards global ageing. ‘That did influence us to change our thinking and appeal to a broader audience than just those with disabilities, realising that there is an entire demographic of people who are older and are likely to have mobility issues,’ said Srin.
The future vision for Accomable is to provide an efficient, one-stop shop for travellers with mobility difficulties or a disability. ‘We would like to overcome some of the common issues encountered by being able to offer not only accommodation, but to include transportation, hire of specialist equipment, details of medical suppliers or anything that is specialist or particularly niche,’ said Srin. They also plan to move from a being a broker to monetising the site by introducing an integrated payment system from which they will take a commission. Their first funding round will start in September.
Before heading to Oxford Said, Srin Madipalli worked as a lawyer at a leading international commercial law firm in the City of London and advised some of the world’s leading corporations and financial institutions. After four years in practice, Srin left the law to commence an MBA at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School with a focus on entrepreneurship.