If venture capitalists paid closer attention to disability –– and allocated part of their portfolio to assistive tech with the knowledge that returns might be slower to arrive than, say, a delivery service –– the scale of impact and profits could be enormous.
Hugo Jácome and Carlos Obando are the founders of Talov, a company that creates technology to assist the disabled. The apps are, by many measures, successful. The software is used by more than 7000 people in 81 countries, and is available in 35 languages. The founders have won awards from MIT and the History Channel. Talov was named among the top 100 most innovative startups in Latin America in 2019. But the startup is still struggling. Venture capitalists aren’t knocking on their doors. Jácome and Obando sold some of their possessions to have enough money to launch, and the team has next to no funding to continue expanding. “Startups like ours are most concentrated in the long term, in making a long-term impact with different kinds of users that face different kinds of challenges,” Jácome said. In a “food delivery service, you can include 100% of humanity, virtually, in your user space. But for us, disability accessibility is most concentrated in a smaller group. Traditional VCs will never support a startup like ours."
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