#NotableWomen in Tech: Maayan Ziv, Founder of AccessNow

AccessNow is a mobile app that shares information about the accessibility of places all around the world.

AccessNow is mapping as many places around the world as possible and building a community of people passionate about change in the process. AccessNow is all about empowering people with accessibility challenges with access to all the places they want to go…now!  The AccessNow app pin-points the accessibility status of locations and tags it with a red pin (not accessible) to a green pin (accessible) on a map that expands across the globe.

Do you need to know restaurants in Jerusalem or Rome is accessible? AccessNow has you covered.

We sat down with AccessNow founder Maayan Ziv at District28 in Toronto to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in tech, what it takes to be a leader, and what the future looks like for AccessNow.

What does it feel like to be a woman in leadership, in tech?
I think I’m in a really interesting space. Being a woman and having a disability has definitely set me apart from many of the people that I work with. I feel a sense of responsibility to demonstrate what diversity means in tech.

What does diversity in tech mean to you?
There’s always been a sense of advocacy in the work that I do. Being a woman and having a disability has always set me apart from many people, and it’s been a competitive advantage in many ways. But I’d also love to see many other people who look like me, or differently, existing in the industry that I work in. What I would like to do is inspire others just by being here; “if I can do it, so can you.”

What does it take to be a leader? NIKE TECH-51
To be a leader takes a sense of confidence. You have to be a risk-taker. You have to feel confident with uncertainty and you have to lead a new path. You have to a new way that often people might think is not ideal. And you have to be creative.

How does the community of women in tech in Canada help you as an entrepreneur?

Being in a room with women who are in leadership positions provides a sense of strength for the whole group. Being able to bounce off ideas and talk about kind of major decisions or movements that are happening in tech or challenges, as a whole we’re experiencing and sharing thoughts and tricks has been helpful.

What would your #1 tip for future women entrepreneurs be?
When I started out I had a lot of fear. I wasn’t sure that I could do it and I was also nervous of what people would think. Reaching out of my comfort zone and connecting with people who were established was an initial challenge. What I did was I realized that [AccessNow] was bigger than me. AccessNow needed to exist.

I was going to offer any piece of advice it would be to step outside of your comfort zone and do something a little bit bigger than yourself. The first step is all that it takes, and then you’ll soon realize that there are so many people out there who are willing to help and are interested in supporting women.