The Mustard Seed Pitching Competition is a long-standing favourite on the Emerge Conference programme – but what happen’s to the winners after? Carrie Babcock of Mustard Seed Impact looks at a winner of last year’s competition.
Many good business ideas spark from a founder’s personal experience, and this certainly holds true for Accomable’s Srin Madipalli. Srin is a travel nut, having spent four months traversing the world, flying planes, trekking mountains and scuba diving. While none of these activities are for the faint of heart, Srin had an additional challenge to overcome: accessibility. Srin and Accomable’s then co-founder, Martyn Sibley, have spinal muscular atrophy, necessitating the use of wheelchairs. He wondered: How could I encourage more people with mobility problems access the excitement of travel?
And hence, Accomable was born. After attaining an MBA at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, Srin started thinking of how to solve the difficulties he encountered while traveling. Having received initial seed funding from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship’s Skoll Venture Awards, Srin and Martyn launched Accomable in the summer of 2015.
As the company geared up for serious seed investment, Srin and Martyn entered Accomable into the Mustard Seed Competition at Emerge. Srin would encourage all entrepreneurs to practice pitching in front of a live audience as much as possible, and loved having the chance to do so in front of Mustard Seed at Emerge last year. “[Pitching] is key to refining your value proposition,” says Srin, who pitched to a judging panel of Mustard Seed’s two co-founders, Alex Pitt and Henry Wigan, Mustard Seed investor Paola Broyd, and CEO of Mustard Seed portfolio company Winnow, Marc Zornes.
Srin continued that the Emerge Conference is a great way to network and connect with others looking to launch a social enterprise. In fact, he found a key employee for Accomable’s property recruitment role through last year’s Emerge event.
Upon winning the competition, Accomable were invited down to Mustard Seed’s offices in London for a half day of acceleration, including workshops with industry experts, financial projection feedback, and to experience the firing round of questions a typical venture capital firm will get into when beginning to consider a company for investment. “The mentors provided great domain specific feedback, and good advice on what to focus on moving forward.”
Ultimately, Accomable closed a £300,000 seed funding round with another investor group in May 2016 to continue building its team, expanding its user base and signing on more properties properly fitted for adventure seekers needing enhance mobility options.
Lessons learned from this success story? Work on a big problem, the closer to home, the better. Welcome counsel from varied sources. And get out there as much as you can!
If you have a start-up venture and are looking for investment support, apply to the Emerge 2016 Mustard Seed Competition here.
Image source: Accomable.com