stark is a startup that aims to help designers make the software and websites more accessible for people with disabilities, and they’ve created a set of tools that plug into popular design tools and browsers to help.
Cat Noone, co-founder and CEO of Stark, says she and her co-founder and CTO Michael Fouquet founded the company out of a desire to simplify accessible design. “Stark has a very big mission to make the world’s software accessible to everyone. And we help businesses increase accessibility from months to minutes with a very simple end-to-end workflow,” Noone told londonbusinessblog.com.
Today, the company announced a $6 million seed investment, along with the release of a suite of tools to make it easier for individuals and teams to build accessible designs.
She says they do this through automated intelligent analysis and by providing seamless solutions for both design and code as part of the process. The Stark Suite of tools tries to make it easy for designers to build accessibility into their designs by connecting directly to popular design tools including Figma, Sketch and Adobe XD, and popular browsers such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Opera and Brave .
Designers can check elements such as font size, color choices, contrast and alt text, among other things, and find the most accessible choices, making accessibility part of the design process. No one is saying that at least 1.5 billion people in the world report having at least one disability. She sees making software and websites accessible not only a matter of fairness, but also an issue that increasingly comes with compliance, with a growing number of accessibility rules, similar to security or privacy.
“Accessibility is no small issue. It’s part of what we call a company’s internal PSA – privacy, security, accessibility – and accessibility [stands] right next to privacy and security as one of these three big issues in software development that are being ignored,” she said.
Benedikt Lehnert, Stark’s lead design firm, who previously held design positions at SAP and Microsoft, says the company is trying to make accessible design available to designers wherever they work, which he sees as a big difference between his company’s offerings and others. similar products. , which usually only cover website accessibility.
“Stark empowers software teams to design, build and test all kinds of accessible products, whether that be marketing websites, SaaS products, mobile apps or other software,” he said.
He added: “It’s a set of tools, and when you buy into the Stark ecosystem, the whole philosophy is that we tie in with the tools your product team already uses, whether you’re the designer, developer, project manager or QA expert, and merge them into an accessibility workflow,” he said.
Today, the company has four pricing tiers, starting with a free offering and paid tiers for professionals, teams, and enterprises.
The founders originally conceived the idea in 2017 and officially founded the company in 2020. That same year, they raised a pre-seed round and closed the $6 million seed round earlier this year.
The startup currently has 18 employees in a distributed team and plans to be conservative when it comes to hiring, letting the market lead them. No one is saying that from a diversity perspective, a company that wants to make software and websites more accessible should be open to hiring people with disabilities.
“Here at Stark, a majority of the team is disabled. I’m a female founder, but I’m also a disabled CEO, and the majority of the people on the team have some form of at least one disability, and we’re all very open about it. It’s something we don’t shy away from. We lean on it,” she said. And it helps them build a better product.
The $6 million seed investment was led by Uncork Capital with help from Darling Ventures, Indicator Ventures and a variety of industry angels.