Annette Jakubowicz is the founder & CEO of Sid, a platform designed to help parents of children with autism connect with local support and service providers. With 20 years of experience in operations and allied health, Annette is passionate about improving access to support and services for people living with a disability.
What was the inspiration behind your startup, Sid?
When you are diagnosed with a disability, that moment (really, life in general) can be totally overwhelming. You’re in crisis mode, and Google just doesn’t cut it – especially when “you don’t know what you don’t know’.’ Where do you even start if you don’t know what words to type, or what something is called?
“My inspiration for Sid came from my own experience trying to locate disability supports in my local area a few years ago. I struggled to figure out what support services were available to help me get back to work, help me around the house, etc. It took a long time to finally stumble across the right support. I want to help speed up that process for other people. I want to make it easier to understand your options, and locate and connect with supports and services specific to your disability.”
We are starting with autism because of the diagnosis rate: it’s 1 in 68, which is huge. In my job as a local area coordinator (which I took because I wanted to help people, and because the company was understanding of my needs and inclusive of people living with disability!), I see a lot of parents of kids with autism. They are some of the most time poor families, so it made sense to create a product for them first.
Before you joined SheStarts, did you ever imagine you would be a tech startup founder?
Yeah, kind of! I always loved the startup world and was mesmerised by the tech products people created – and the potential they had to make life easier. I just never knew enough about it to step fully into the space until I had this opportunity with SheStarts. In fact, right before I applied for SheStarts I was googling information on grants, because I wanted to start my own business providing disability supports in our local area. I heard of, and applied for, SheStarts at the 11th hour!
Looking back at your career, which job helped you get to where you are today?
My very first job at McDonalds when I was in high school taught me a lot about processes and thinking ahead, but it was my first job after graduating that had the most impact on me. At the time, I was too young to know the difference between a good manager and a great leader, but I had a great leader as a manager. He was encouraging, kind and understanding of different work styles and strengths. He never put anyone down, always found a role that suited everyone, and taught me so much about kindness. Whenever I am in a jam, I still remember how he treated everyone as equals. It was a great example of how an excellent leader can create a strong team culture, and I’ve always try to apply the principles he taught me throughout my career.
What has been your most surprising experience so far in the SheStarts program?
The program is literally like jamming full-time study into one day a week; it’s hectic, but fun and rewarding. The biggest surprise for me has been how much research and validation is actually involved to make sure we are solving the right problem!
Read more: Lean validation – Test the sizzle before cooking the steak
What is your advice to women who have a bold idea for a startup?
Hold on to your hats – it’s a wild ride. Every emotion you think you have ever experienced… just throw that in a blender, drink it, and strap in!
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