5 reasons why you should join a disabled-led start up
Mateo Martin Verburgh
Nov 24, 2022
This summer we welcomed (again) the wonderful Mateo back to Sociability who worked with us on a range of projects as an intern. But, what is it like working for a disabled-led tech start-up?
Here’s Mateo’s thoughts on why you should join a disabled-led start up like Sociability…
Left to right: Matt, Behzad, Tim, Mateo, Isadora, Jennie and Gem
After finishing my third year at university, I was happy to re-join the Sociability team as a summer intern between May and July. Throughout these three months, I was able to get further understanding of how a small company operates, whilst having responsibilities in very different aspects. This has resulted in me having a better idea of where I would like to focus on post-graduation. There are so many benefits to joining a disabled-led start up and here’s just a few of those…
1. Start-ups are high paced
Joining a startup might not be the first idea that comes into a university student’s mind. This can be due to the fact that most startups may not have a network that reaches them, because the sector might be too specific (or too small) or simply because they would like to gather experience in a company with a premade program. All these reasons are valid. However, having been an intern twice as a university student, I sincerely believe there are considerable benefits.
Firstly, startups are high-paced. Things and projects are constantly moving forward, which gives a nice feeling of accomplishment and a feeling of actually contributing to the success of the business, no matter what your degree of experience is.
2. Explore different areas
In a small business like Sociability, a lot happens in three months. I had the chance to take part in interviews for new roles, got to see the acquisition of new customers and looked into new investment opportunities for the future. Every day at the office, something was moving forwards.
3. Constant new skills and friendships
Startup teams are generally small. This means two things: (i) you will be able to work across departments and learn new skills practically on a weekly, if not daily basis. This is a great way of discovering what areas are most attractive to you personally; and (ii) you will work with everyone in the office, with varying lengths of time. This means that close bonds of friendship are developed over time, rather than being strictly professional relationships.
4. The rewards
Startups are in business to create something that does not yet exist. They are an exercise aimed at solving a problem that currently has no solution, or not a solution that is good enough, at the very least. To be able to witness the progress of this solution and its acquisition by a growing customer base is the greatest reward to your hard work.
Mateo testing out a wheelchair!
5. A new perspective
Not being a disabled person, working for a disabled-led company might not be the first idea that comes to mind. Moreover, having no experience with disability may make this decision even more daunting. I understand.
Nevertheless, looking back, I am convinced of two things:
Disabled people work in the same way as non-disabled people. There is no difference in social interaction or workflow. Having the chance to work and interact with disabled people on a daily basis makes you look beyond their disability (which may be hard at first if you don’t have any experience) and gain an understanding of who your colleagues really are. Having been exposed to disability, whilst gathering my first professional experience has broadened my mindset beyond what a non-disabled led company may have. Your eyes are suddenly opened to circumstances and issues you had never been aware of, and it makes you consider a larger part of society.
Throughout my time at Sociability, I kept coming back to a quote: "Just because you don’t experience a problem yourself, it doesn’t mean that the problem is not worth solving”.
As I mentioned above, startups are intended to solve problems that currently are not being dealt with accordingly. Not all of these problems are going to be strictly applicable to your life and that is fine. It does not mean they are not worth fixing. Added to this, the moment you get exposed to these situations and the people that experience them on a daily basis, it does become personal. Even if I do not face these problems myself, I was (and still am) committed to solving them for the huge community of disabled people in general, and for the close friends I made, specifically.
Left to right: Isadora, Jennie, Mateo and Gem
I don’t want to finish this reflection without having a few words for the fantastic team that works behind the scenes. This has been the second time the Sociability team has welcomed me into their office and I can honestly say I felt their support and friendship throughout my time with them. With a team so committed, a problem this critical and a solution this practical, I have no doubt that Sociability will thrive and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Huge thank you to Mateo for sharing his journey and thoughts about working with Sociability!