AbiliTrek began as an innovative idea that morphed into a company geared toward bettering the travel experience for people with disabilities. Currently, the travel industry lacks the information travelers with disabilities need, making their adventures a daunting and exhausting task. AbiliTrek, by counteracting the current state of the service and travel industries, will make trekking a fulfilling experience for any person with a disability.
The idea of AbiliTrek, constructed almost two years before its official launch, was invented by Daman Wandke. Daman started AbiliTrek in response to his own experiences when traveling with Cerebral Palsy and decided to put his dream of changing the travel industry to the test in Bellingham’s 2016 54-Hour Startup Challenge. AbiliTrek won the challenge and that set his idea into motion.
2016 was all about planning and by the beginning of 2017, we started working to make sure we were ready for our launch in April. Dedicated to building the best website we could to serve the disability community, countless hours were spent constructing our website to make sure it was both attractive and accessible to all.
AbiliTrek began as a hotel booking service and is now in the midst of a pivot. We have phased out the hotel booking service and have created a Yelp-like app with the goal of improving access.
With the hotel booking service, came a review that a user could fill out (i.e. rating the accessibility). AbiliTrek’s new app not only allows people to complete reviews of hotels but is more inclusive allowing people to review the accessibility of almost any place someone can trek (locally or afar).
Though the genesis of AbiliTrek did not take place in a garage, those of us at this Washington State start-up are driven to be as innovative and affluent to the disability community as Microsoft, our neighbors just south of us.
AbiliTrek will be the easiest, most inclusive and personalized way to trek the globe.
To empower those with disabilities with the ability to trek without boundaries by providing verified and personalized accessibility information.
Our Goal for Achieving Our Mission
AbiliTrek began as a hotel booking service to fill the informational gap within the travel industry by accumulating accessibility data that is not available anywhere else. Though AbiliTrek is has made a pivot in the service provided, we will continue to expand the database provided to people with disabilities by providing a review platform to express the accessibility of anywhere that anyone can trek. AbiliTrek will continue to support the transformation of the travel and service industries to ensure that it is more inclusive for all.
Meet the Team
Daman Wandke – Founder, CEO
Daman Wandke, MBA, is the Chief Executive Officer, as well as a technology consultant and national disability advocate. Daman is an avid traveler; traveling for both business and pleasure. “Seeing that travelers with disabilities need to be able to travel without having to worry about not having an appropriate hotel room when they arrive at their destination”, Daman set out to find a solution; hence, the birth of AbiliTrek. AbiliTrek’s goal is to empower the disability community with the Ability to Trek without boundaries.
Before working on AbiliTrek full time, he was an Accessibility Analyst at SSB BART Group, an IT accessibility consulting firm, where he performed audits of clients’ websites, mobile applications, and other IT products. He currently serves on two nonprofit Boards of Directors, the Northwest Access Fund and PolicyWorks. Daman brings to AbiliTrek his technology and business knowledge with his first-hand experience of traveling with a disability.
Travis Heller – Chief Technology Officer
Travis Heller, the Chief Technology Officer, studies Computer Science at Western Washington University (WWU).
Travis is a talented developer who has been writing website code since he was in high school. His IT background has prepared him for his job at AbiliTrek where he designs and builds new features, in addition to improving AbiliTrek’s site to make it pleasing, functional, and accessible for our users. Travis also enjoys cooking, writing web applications, and watching shows like Star Trek.
Kyann Flint – Chief Accessibility Officer
Kyann Flint, the Chief Accessibility Officer, is an alum of Western Washington University where she studied Political Science and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Humanities and Social Sciences. A passionate disability advocate, Kyann’s motto is to Defy the Defined Disability – she blogs her insights at Life from a Lame Perspective where she shares her experiences as a person who is wheelchair mobile and the frustrations that come from society’s social barriers. Flint, loves writing, spending time with her fabulous friends and family, exploring the outdoors, drinking really good tea and coffee and of course, traveling!
Jeremy McLaughlin — Director of Business Development
Jeremy McLaughlin, the Director of Business Development, graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business with a concentration in Management Informations Systems. Jeremy is originally from Yakima, Washington. He enjoys cooking, spending time with his friends, watching movies, and staying active — whether at the gym or outside exploring. Jeremy also enjoys a good beer and just relaxing when he is not playing or working.
Meg Metzger — Director of Sales and Marketing
Meg Metzger, the Director of Sales and Marketing, is from Everett, Washington. She studied at Stanford University where she earned a degree in Human Biology with a concentration in Organizational Behavior. Meg has a rich history of work experience, including multiple positions at both Procter & Gamble and Microsoft. Meg has been a mentor to our CEO, Daman Wandke and continues to share her knowledge with him and the rest of the AbiliTrek team. On top of investing in young entrepreneurs, Meg also enjoys biking, hiking, skiing (downhill, XC & Skate skiing), boating, stand up paddle boarding, basketball, volleyball, teaching Geography and traveling. Meg also has two daughters who are both away at college; she voices she currently has an empty nest except for her 14-year-old golden retriever!