Srin Madipalli is the CEO of Accomable, a website to help people with mobility difficulties find accessible holiday properties around the world. Srin studied genetics, worked as a corporate lawyer and completed an MBA at Saïd Business School, Oxford.
Q: What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
A: To me, entrepreneurship is about creating a product or service that genuinely solves a need or problem.
Q: What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
A: I was working as a corporate lawyer in mergers and acquisitions, but didn’t really enjoy it, so I decide to do an MBA. At end of time in Oxford, I worked with SBS and Isis, helping scientists and academics to commercialise their research, and to facilitate entrepreneurship. I also started learning how to code and started working with local startups. I really love the building process, so thought it would be good to build something of my own. So I pitched the idea of Accomable to the Skoll Venture award, and won my first funding.
Q: So what would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
A: You need a crazy level of persistence, an ability to understand the customer, and the ability to prototype or create the product yourself at first. It’s hard to explain what is needed at the beginning.
Q: What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
A: I really enjoy the creativity of what I am building. When people are using your product, it’s a rush, which you can’t really get in a corporate job. There is no shield, and no intermediaries. If no one likes it, or if everyone likes it, it’s in your face.
Q: What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
A: Elon Musk is great. I love the mindset of going into an industry where everyone dismisses you, and yet he disrupts the industry and starts from scratch. With Accomable, people told us it was too niche, and charitable, but when you start from scratch, you see things that others don’t.
Q: If you could have 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?
A: How can I sign up to get on the rocket? Hahaha, how can I blag a place?
Q: What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
A: When we had our first users booking a trip on the site. Even if everything else goes wrong, at least we have done something useful for someone.
Q: What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
A: Accomable was hit by a spambot in November, which posted thousands of comments on in a couple of minutes. What a learning experience! We have since introduced a lot more checks and balances, and locked the site down. Fortunately, at the time there was not too much risk (no payment, etc), but still horrible. I’m glad it happened when we were still small though.
Q: What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
A: There is an amazing group of people and talent in the area – so many different backgrounds. You feel like you can do anything with that sort of talent around. But while the grassroots side is amazing, the supporting infrastructure is slow, unwieldy, and bureaucratic. There needs to be better support as the potential is huge.
Q: If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship information or resources in Oxfordshire, where would you send them?
A: Spend as much time as possible in the Launchpad as possible, go to meetups, and immerse yourself in the startup environment. Meet as many people as possible.
Q: Any last words of advice?
A: Get on with it!