“If I had to offer advice to anyone thinking about a new career, I would say consider tech. But also, if you can, go traveling,” says Srin Madipalli. Srin was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II.
In 2011, Srin took six months off from his job as a lawyer to travel. He states it was a life-changing experience, but he learned how difficult and time consuming it could be to plan a trip as a wheelchair user.
Coming back from his trip, Srin quit his job as a lawyer and applied to the MBA program at Oxford. Srin says he experienced a revelation during one of his courses about technology and the startup community.
“I immediately saw how transformative tech could be for people with disabilities.”
Srin was interested in coding and all he needed was a laptop and an internet connection and he could build something. He states the course to teach himself to code was fairly cheap and came with free resources.
Srin could work from home when he needed to and the skills were highly valued by companies. After obtaining his MBA, Srin stayed at Oxford and did some freelance work. However, he knew he wanted to start something of his own and kept thinking back to his travel experiences and the difficulty of finding accessible accommodations.
In 2015, Srin and his childhood friend built a prototype for a web-app called Accommable. Over the next two years, his team scaled the accessible travel startup to list adapted properties in over 60 countries worldwide.
In November 2017, Accommable was acquired by Airbnb with a shared goal to enable everyone to travel regardless of disability. Srin works with dedicated teams to make the platform as accessible as possible. “In March, we introduced 21 new accessibility filters to help people find homes which fit their specific needs and continue to work with our community to build upon and improve these. We’re also working to encourage entrepreneurs with disabilities to share their homes or host adapted experiences to make some extra money,” he says.
Airbnb is also making changes for the company to be a great place for people with disabilities to work. “Airbnb’s mission is to enable anyone to belong anywhere, and we recognise that this starts within our offices and as part of our company culture,” says Srin.
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