Disabled entrepreneurs with technologybased busin

first_imgDisabled entrepreneurs with technology-based business ideas that could transform life for other disabled people have a chance to secure up to £100,000 of funding through an “angel” investment programme.Entrepreneurand investor Rohan Silva, a former senior policy adviser to Conservativeprime minister David Cameron, is one of 12 successful entrepreneurs who haveeach been handed £100,000 by technology investmentfund Atomico to invest in early-stage technology companies.Afterdiscussions with disabled journalist Steve O’Hear, Silva decided to invest all themoney he has been given in one or two technologystart-ups with the potential to improve the lives of disabled people.Silva (pictured, left), co-founder of Second Home, a social business that supports job creation and entrepreneurship, is particularly keen to see ideas from tech start-ups founded or co-founded by disabled people*.O’Hear (right), a technology and business journalist who reports on tech start-ups for the website TechCrunch, will act as a volunteer “sounding board” for Silva.He said thatSilva’s idea to focus on disability “had come partly from conversations he andI have had in the past around the lack of diversity in the tech industry,including disability, and the stink I’d made with regards to [chancellor]Philip Hammond’s idiotic comments attempting to link the UK’s low productivity with high ratesof employment of disabled people”.He said: “I immediatelythought that angel investing in disabled entrepreneurs was a good idea but toldhim that if he wanted to have more impact he should also consider businessesthat explicitly target the disabled consumer, since disabled people are beingripped off on a whole range of products or services.”Thestart-ups could, for example, offer a mobile app, other types of software, atech-enabled service or new types of hardware.O’Hear said:“My investment thesis was that unlike other sectors, tech hasn’t yet deliveredthe same level of service, convenience and innovation to the disabled consumerthat we see more generally, and that there are many disability markets ripe fordisruption.”He added:“From insurance, financing, travel and accommodation, to specialistproducts such as wheelchair accessories, disabled clothing and fashion, ormobility devices, there are countless disability markets which feel dominatedby legacy players that don’t utilise tech very well or are outrightmonopolies or predatory in nature. “Dependingon how big the market is for any one product or service, broadly speaking thisis exactly the type of opportunity smart investors look for.” He said thatmany disabled people have the “instincts, aptitude and life experience to makegreat entrepreneurs” because they are often “driven by having something toprove”.And he saidhe was particularly interested in businesses that would help disabled people“level up” in their personal or work lives, by saving money, using their timemore efficiently, or achieving greater independence and autonomy. He said: “Somuch of my time and money is wasted on being disabled, which, when you thinkabout it, is a collective waste of society’s resources. “Disabledpeople have so much to contribute as a whole, both in spending power andthrough what we are capable of achieving via individual endeavours, but this isbeing siphoned off by companies delivering poor consumer experiences whilstripping off the disabled consumer wholesale.”O’Hear said thereare usually huge mark-ups on products that target disabled consumers, who canexpect to pay up to 10 times the price, “with no direct correlation to thecost of providing those products or services”.He said hewanted to see applications for funding from start-ups that want to fix some ofthese “broken markets”, in areas such as disability insurance or personalisedwheelchair accessories.He said: “Irecently bought a new adapted vehicle and had to find new car insurance and theexperience took me back to 2003, which was the last time I bought a car. “Literallynothing had changed and it felt incredibly uncompetitive and lacking inchoice.”*To submit a pitch deck – apower-point presentation describing the business idea and plan – to RohanSilva, email him at [email protected] note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…last_img

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