Robust ThemeDec 09, 2019 2020-04-08 7:40
Start up stories: Maryanne Harris, tappON
After a freak accident left her husband disabled, Maryanne was inspired to create a service connecting Australians with carers and health professionals.
Here she chats with us about how her tech start up came about and how Tech Ready Women helped along the way.
Maryanne, could you start by telling us a little about tappON?
Sure, tappON is an online platform that matches people with disability or aged care needs to carers, Allied Health and domestic professionals. We want to give our customers control, choice and flexibility and, if needed, for family members to have greater transparency over what care requirements and what services they have been accessing.
And, so how did the idea of tappON come about?
Well, eight years ago my husband, Daniel, was standing on a balcony when it collapsed, leaving him a quadriplegic. We spent about 10 months in hospital and then we were discharged into the big wide world of living with a disability. Overnight we had two completely different worlds; there was ‘pre-accident’ and ‘post-accident’ and basically, we had to learn to do everything again, but in an entirely new way. Then we had to navigate a system that's meant to be there to support us, which can be quite tough.
Did your experience navigating this system lead to tappON?
Yes, especially as this was also just before the changes with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, where the individual was being put at the centre of their care. We saw how the changes were going to affect the disability market, where there’s a younger demographic who are more tech enabled.
So how long ago did you join Tech Ready Women?
About 12 months ago when we didn't even have a website! We just had the idea that things could be better. We were at a point where we were transferring from operating a business and understanding the health care system to working out how to apply this to a new tech-enabled medium.
Why did you choose Tech Ready Women?
It's interesting… We thought we'd jump all the way in and engage a third party developer and the day we were going to sign on with them I spoke to Christie at Tech Ready Women. We had a discussion about actually taking a step back and slowing down so that we could speed up bigger and better later on. I saw that there was a gap in my knowledge and experience, particularly in being a non-tech founder, and we realised we needed to build the right networks around us and engage mentors to help us through this knowledge gap. I thought Tech Ready Women could help us do that.
And so, what was the most important idea you took away from joining Tech Ready Women?
For me, it was understanding that technology was overlaying the solution of what we were trying to serve; it wasn't the solution to the problem.
Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
No, I don't think I would have done anything differently at all, actually! We were definitely able to build our team quicker and be more focused on what we're here to do because of the work that we did with Tech Ready Women. Everything has just fitted in to place since then!