If you thought planning a holiday was all about logistics, try being disabled. Along with the usual itinerary list, there’s often a number of other rather nuanced requirements that need to be ticked off before making a booking, not least when it comes to accommodation. In my case, that means a wheelchair accessible property or hotel room, a parking space, WiFi and copious amounts of free tea.
The problem with most holiday search engines, however, is that accessibility features are either listed in terms too generic to be entirely reliable or useful, or not listed at all. Enter U.K. startup Accomable, which is setting out to become the ‘Airbnb for the mobility sector’ or perhaps something more akin to Expedia but for accessible travel.
Launched as an MVP in April last year after co-founder and CEO Srin Madipalli taught himself to code, the company is announcing that it has closed £300,000 in seed funding from unnamed angel investors from the technology and hospitality sectors. It follows an earlier £20,000 grant from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, where Madipalli completed his MBA.
Accomable’s other co-founder is Martyn Sibley, who is the CEO of disability magazine Disability Horizons, which he also co-founded with Madipalli. He remains a shareholder and advocate of the startup but is no longer involved with the day-to-day operations of Accomable.
“If you have a disability or are elderly, it can be extremely difficult to find accessible accommodation or a host of related travel services such as medical equipment hire, adapted car rentals and specialist insurance,” Madipalli tells TechCrunch.
“Mainstream services such as Airbnb or Expedia do not filter inventory on sufficient criteria, nor do they provide information on related and specialist services such as medical equipment hire.”
For now the focus for Accomable is accommodation, including vetting any accessibility claims made by the properties listed. The site also lets you filter listings on a number of criteria such as the presence of roll-in showers, hoists, grab rails and a host of other accessibility features.
But moving forward the startup’s target is much broader and likely what attracted investors. This includes hotel room listings and other items related to accessible travel, such as accessible car hire or specialist medical equipment.
“We intend to expand into listing major hotel chains and providing listings on related travel services so that we can become the one-stop shop for adapted travel,” Madipalli says.
However, Accomable isn’t without competition. There are a number of other startups operating in the same space, such a Handiscover, Euansguide or Brett Approved, but Madipalli says there is currently no clear market leader.
“Our key differentiator is that we have a very active and engaged community of users that help us source properties; we focus and spend a lot of time to make sure the property is suitable,” he adds.