Airbnb has acquired UK travel startup, Accomable, a service to help people with mobility difficulties find accessible holiday accommodation, which was co-founded by Saïd Business School, University of Oxford alumnus and disabled entrepreneur Srin Madipalli in 2015.
‘This marks the start of an exciting and historic new chapter in our mission to make travel accessible for disabled people around the world,’ said Madipalli. ‘I am delighted to announce that the Accomable team and myself will be joining the Airbnb family to share our unique knowledge and expertise to make one of the world’s largest travel communities more accessible, and to enable Airbnb to fulfil its mission to create a world where anyone can truly belong anywhere.’
Madipalli, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), launched Accomable in 2015 with childhood friend, Martyn Sibley, after growing frustrated with the difficulty of researching and booking travel with a disability. A self-taught coder, Madipalli built the initial prototype for the Accomable web-app himself and grew the company to host more than 1,100 accessible properties in over 60 countries worldwide.
Madipalli credits both the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford Saïd and the wider business school with helping Accomable in both its development and later stages. In 2013 he won a Skoll Venture Award worth £20,000 which was put towards development of the website; he was an Entrepreneurial Fellow at the Entrepreneurship Centre, and he learnt about management of early stage investing as a founding member of the School’s student-run Seed Fund committee.
He described how the Skoll Centre has helped to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem that has been of great benefit to his company. ‘One of our angel investors was Chris Hunter, a student in my year, a fellow founder of the Seed Fund and Skoll Award recipient who has worked in impacting investing,’ he said. ‘His support throughout our journey has been invaluable. Having this network of investors and entrepreneurs at hand is a tremendous help.’
Madipalli is looking forward to moving to Airbnb’s San Francisco offices, after spending considerable time with Airbnb’s founding and senior management teams: ‘During our time at Airbnb, we were left in no doubt that Airbnb shares our mission and we are convinced that joining Airbnb provides the best opportunity to take our dream and mission to a global level, using the current reach of Airbnb’s community of four million hosts and 100 million guests to work together and make the world more accessible,’ he said.