This article is part of In Conversation with Contemporary Web Startups at the Web Summit
Handiscover is a groundbreaking community-based holiday accommodation-booking website dedicated to people with physical disabilities. We asked its founder Sebastien Archambeaud for more information about his project and expectations, and to share his experience regarding the support offered by Sweden, where his business is located, toward new startups.
Sebastien is an entrepreneur who holds an Msc in Engineering from UTC in France. He has worked in FMCG at international companies like L’Oréal, where he was European marketing director, and Unilever, where he was business manager and marketing director. He is also the former CEO of MrBid, now known as Tradera (eBay Sweden).
I wondered what motivated a person with such a strong professional background to build his own startup. The impulses that drove Sebastien to set up this kind of business were the terrible muscular disease that afflicts his son and the lack of this kind of provider of accommodation booking services. Only a person with disabilities or experience of traveling with disabled people can fully understand the difficulty in finding suitable accommodation to fully enjoy the trip. There are scores of accomodation-booking websites, but until now, none were designed for the millions of people around the world with disabilities. Sebastian willingly gave us some of his time for a short talk to find out more.
Our main topic of conversation was about the general social importance of such a service and if this was in any way financially supported by the Swedish government. According to Sebastian, there has been no specific state support, and so they have relied on community support and specific privately funded programs like Impact Hub Scaling. However, Sebastien is reasonably satisfied with the simplicity of setting up and managing new companies, but he adds that, unfortunately, there is a poor social backup for entrepreneurs.
Since our blog is focused on recruitment and the world of work in general, we also talked about Sebastian’s preferences between standard employees, freelance cooperation, or subcontracting, and the possible advantages and disadvantages of each.
Sebastien said: From a lean startup perspective, freelancers are great, and it is also a good way to test people and see if they might integrate with the team later. Not having the burden of x number of official employees that you would need to “care for” is also advantageous. Moreover, freelancers are often more mature and more apt to work independently.
Handiscover is now working on internationalization on a large scale and is currently seeking to meet the needs of people with a larger spectrum of disabilities.
Euspert wishes them the best of luck with this interesting and necessary project.