Meet our Community: Janice Valentine, Founder and CEO of Hack Access
“Having absolute clarity on the integrity of my endeavour gives me greater strength to pursue it” Janice Valentine Founder and CEO of Hack Access
I immersed myself into the startup community during a moment in my life when I was searching for connection and purpose in my work. I was so inspired by the community’s ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude and their sense of creativity and collaboration. I wanted to use this to solve a meaningful problem.
Growing up, I had been exposed to various challenges that my brother Steven experienced whilst living with muscular dystrophy. Social exclusion and lack of opportunities were the biggest problems. I saw hackathons and workshops as a great way to include and empower people like my brother to become part of creating the world that they want to live in.
It is also about creating a platform that connects stakeholders and provides a framework that supports them to work together to create a better environment for all of us, and that is how it started. Hack Access is a social enterprise focused on creating an inclusive environment for people of all abilities, and our flagship Hack Access Dublin hackathon has been running in partnership with Google for three years now.
Over the years, we have created a connected community of innovators who are really interested in the idea of using entrepreneurship as a tool to create really amazing cities for the future, that are accessible and inclusive. It’s a new way of tackling accessibility issues because this is linked to the area of disability which really is a problem that affects most of the countries around the world, but yet it’s a challenge that is typically not very high on government agendas.
We have started forming partnerships with businesses from various domains of the environment, who really want to see what they can do to create a much more accessible and inclusive environment. We co-create challenges with our partners and validation team, who are individuals with diverse abilities. Then, participants find solutions to make environments more accessible and work on developing them with our partners.
These partnerships are great for the participants because young innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs are searching for ways to make a difference in the world and this is a really nice entry point into social innovation. They get to learn and collaborate while doing something to make an impact and they see their ideas being developed. Finding Talent Garden Dublin was a big opportunity for Hack Access – being a part of that network, attending events, and having this digital and tech community is something very special. Talent Garden gives you the opportunity to tell your story within this community and it really helps to have this feedback and support. People here really believe and care about the impact they are making.