Accomable: Lessons From an Inspirin...
Accomable: Lessons From an Inspiring Start-Up
Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, like many entrepreneurs, got the idea for their start-up from their everyday experience, seeing a problem to solve.
Both young men have spinal muscular atrophy, which leaves their bodies confined to motorized wheelchairs. Their physical disability has not confined them in many ways: They are educated, successful and well-traveled. But travel has often been a challenge.
"We know how difficult it is, and the information for assisted travel is terrible and not connected to booking accommodations and services," said Mr. Madipalli, a London lawyer-turned-entrepreneur.
So this year, they founded Accomable, which they describe as "Airbnb for disabled people and anyone with mobility difficulties." The service is just getting underway, with the website opening to users in June and about 100 properties listed so far, mostly in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. Accomable is looking to add properties in America.
Mr. Madipalli, who was in New York last week, did the coding for Accomable himself. He learned those skills from a New York start-up which offers online courses, One Month. The video course Mr. Madipalli took taught Ruby on Rails, a programming language and software toolkit for building web applications. The Ruby course is the most popular at One Month, but Mattan Griffel, the founder and chief executive, says technical skills are only part of its curriculum. "We're an online school for tech entrepreneurs," he said, pointing to other courses like content marketing and growth hacking.
One Month's offering — $50 for a month's online instruction — is different from the courses at coding boot camps. Those in-person teaching programs vary, but can last up to six months and the cost ranges up to $20,000 or more. But the one-month course was enough to get Mr. Madipalli started. "It gave me the confidence to build something myself," he said.
Mr. Madipalli fits a pattern among people who enjoy successful outcomes from the so-called accelerated learning programs, like coding boot camps or One Month. Proponents of such programs often argue that their success shows the shortcomings of traditional college education, especially the liberal arts ethos of widening horizons and the fuzzy notion of "learning how to learn."
But the opposite may be true. There are exceptions, but the people who make the most out of these programs typically have excellent traditional educations, often from outstanding universities, where they were very good students. They proved deft at acquiring technical skills, because they learned how to learn long before.
Mr. Madipalli holds an undergraduate degree in science, a law degree and an M.B.A. from the Said Business School at Oxford University. When told how his educational background was similar to many others who found success after coding programs, he smiled, nodded and then replied: "Yes, but I'd push back a bit. When you are starting from scratch you are still a beginner. You need good teaching and a proper methodology."
Mr. Madipalli is hoping to raise funds for Accomable and no longer be the only coder. He says he'd like to hire a designer and developer to burnish the look of the site and to improve the user experience. "I'd like it to go from useful to beautiful as well," he said.
But if Accomable grows and thrives, and Mr. Madipalli hands off the coding tasks to others, coding it himself has been an enriching experience, he said. Writing code, he now appreciates, is a matter constant trial-and-error, learning as you go and perseverance, not giving up. "There's a bit of life lesson there," he said.