Founder Brett Heising developed the first travel booking site and review platform for individuals with permanent disabilities and mobility impairment. Heising, who lives with a permanent disability, explains that brettapproved came out of a “final straw” scenario. While finalizing his plans to San Francisco, he had double and triple checked a hotel to make sure that it had a roll-in shower and, upon arrival, found that the entire hotel was not accessible to him and was sent somewhere else. At that point, he knew he had to do something.
Heising explains that he never intended to be an entrepreneur, but that he was in a unique position to become one. “If I don’t do this, who will?” There was no other travel websites for people with mobility challenges. Heising also developed the “Brett Score” which is a rating system evaluating the accessibility of a venue.
According to Heising, in 2011, 37.1 million trips were taken by disabled individuals and an average of $13.6 billion of those trips were spent in the U.S.
Also, with 54 million people in the U.S. with permanent disabilities and an average of 36 million people over 65 that are mobility impaired, Heising is putting his frustration to work and making a change with his service.
Currently, brettapproved is in early development. He receives help from SeedSpot and has a small team of workers, developers and fundraisers. Heising appreciates the opportunity to be part of the “inaugural class” at SeedSpot. They have helped him with a business curriculum in order to learn how to run a business as well as connecting him with a developer, Paul Kenjora, to help with the technical aspects.
When launching the concept of brettapproved, Heising set an ambitious $500,000 fundraising goal. The largest fundraiser so far has been the Indiegogo campaign, a 60-day campaign designed to raise as much money as possible to launch version 1.0 of brettapproved. Heising acknowledges Travis McCleery, who developed a video for the Indiegogo campaign raised $10,000.
“The future is bright,” says Heising. He hopes to launch version 1.0 of brettapproved in late June or July. He explains that version 1.0 will be a service to help people find the best hotels, restaurants and venues that are easily accessible. “It is for people who are sick of going to the same places. They can jump on to brettapproved and see where is accessible,” he says. He is even more excited for the future version, where he will add features such as a booking engine with real time inventory. The “inventory,” as he calls it, consists of open and accessible hotel rooms or other areas that can be reserved immediately.
“Knowledge is power and the more knowledge people have the more at ease they are to do things, such as traveling,” says Heising.
He hopes that brettapproved will mitigate the challenges that mobility challenged people have and to give them the information that isn’t easily accessible.
“My money is spent just the same as everyone else’s and once businesses realize that we are just like everyone else – that we like to travel, go out to eat, and go to ball games – then we will be able to do so.” Heising said.
Most importantly, Heising hopes to spread the positive nature of brettapproved. “We are not trying to slam restaurants or hotels, but rather to celebrate the places that work.”
Find out more about brettapproved here.
Watch his pitch from SeedSpot Demo day here.