December 4, 2022

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Maxine Parker, Co-director of Access Ability Australia (AAA)

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Maxine Parker and Judy O’Connor (co-directors of AAA) are two mums living with disability. Maxine lives with single sided deafness and Judy’s son lives with autism spectrum disorder, an intellectual disability and sensory processing disorder.

In 2015, whilst working together in education, and with the imminent release of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Maxine and Judy identified a void within community.

Access Keys were the born based from both Judy and Maxine’s lived and professional experience.
Access Keys are customised accessibility guides that provide convenient information about accessing venues, events and programs at the click of a button.

Describe the process of launching the business.

12 months were spent doing market research to test the market for demand of this resource. Also within this time, Judy and Maxine investigated ways they could structure a business model that provided a resource to empower people with disability but one that placed no additional financial pressure upon this community.

Access Keys was a very new concept and one that required demistifying. This was overcome by services that were rendered for free and that gave opportunity for AAA to get their product into circulation.

Local government organisations have now become our largest client cohort fully embracing our philosophy of improved visitor information that empowers people living with disability. Our Access Key resource is now synonymous with supporting whole of community.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Our ability to share lived experience of disability with our clients, build awareness and educate and create attitudinal shifts within organisational cultures.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

AAA is in a very prominent position now within the disability sector. Customers and users of Access Keys recognise our Access Keys and AAA brand and associate it with the high quality and standards that we have worked hard to develop and pride ourselves on.

Our future looks very bright with the expansion of our Access Key library, the expansion of our product range and the launch of a new app.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

We have learnt that we cannot be the expert in every area required to run a business and that it is crucial for success to outsource independent expertise. We have also learnt that our team is our most valuable asset and to ensure we continue to show our appreciation for all they do to support AAA.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

WordPress, InDesign, Microsoft tools, Social channels – LinkedIn, Instagram & Facebook, typeform, mailchimp, Adobe, Xero

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

From a business networking perspective, we benefit greatly from LinkedIn.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Always remember your core purpose and refer back to it when steering off course.

Where can we go to learn more?