Accessibility startup AccessiBe gears up for M&A
AccessiBe, a technology startup that helps address website accessibility issues for people with disabilities, could begin raising money by mid-next year to fuel an M&A pipeline, co-CEO Shir Ekerling tells Axios exclusively.
Why it matters: Retailers stand to lose out on nearly $500 billion of purchasing power from working-age people with disabilities, per the American Institutes for Research.
- “There's a lot of interesting new emerging technologies and accessibility that we want to invest in to help grow,” Ekerling says.
- “We don’t yet know the round size, but definitely larger than what we raised to date," he says.
Zoom in: For example, AccessiBe invested in an assistive technology it is developing with a blind engineer. Together, they are building a small laptop that has screen reader software combined with a keyboard with a Braille display.
- Ekerling notes the product is in the prototype stage, adding that new investment will help move development along.
Context: The Israeli company raised $28 million in a Series A round earlier this year, and an additional $30 million extension this summer.
- Both the initial round and the extension were led by private equity firm K1 Investment Management.
- Glilot Capital Partners and The Phoenix participated in the extension round.
What’s next: The company plans to develop and enhance its tools that can help with native accessibility.
- This also means expanding its network with R&D and product teams, as well as with agency developers, engineers and web designers.
- AccessiBe also aims to bring more global awareness to website accessibility through education programs and campaigns, Ekerling says.
How it works: AccessiBe helps scan websites to ensure it meets the accessibility needs of people with various disabilities, from ensuring proper keyboard navigation adjustments to enabling voice dictation software.
- AccessiBe also has a platform that allows native engineering teams to implement accessibility as part of their design process.
- With more than 150,000 customers, the company ensures websites meet worldwide standards for accessibility.
Yes and: With everything being done online, expanding accessibility on “shopping websites are even more important because you have your money. The reason why we have our really amazing modern lives today is e-commerce," Ekerling says.
- If a website is not coded properly, it could leave the user stuck at checkout because the functionality isn’t enabled across the whole e-commerce experience.
- Checkouts are usually built around multiple forms and popups and if they’re not accessible to someone using a keyboard for navigation rather than a mouse, for instance, it makes it difficult to complete a purchase, Ekerling says.
- Those forms also may not be recognizable to a screen reader so a person who is visually impaired may not know what to input for each field.
- They may only hear "edit," and not, "edit, first name, edit, phone number," Ekerling says.
What they’re saying: “Having options, having choices on how to experience a website through usability is a transformative experience because it gives the power back to the individual to be able to absorb the information based on their unique abilities,” says Josh Basile, AccessiBe’s community relations manager, who says he uses the technology because he is paralyzed below his shoulders.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment from the company.