Equalize Digital, a WordPress accessibility products and consulting company, has received an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Emilia Capital, the investment company owned by Joost de Valk and Marieke van de Rakt. The investment will be used to accelerate the growth of Equalize Digital’s Accessibility Checker plugin, a tool for auditing websites for WCAG, ADA, and Section 508 accessibility errors.
Emilia Capital now owns part of the company, although its owners were not given seats on the board. Equalize Digital founder and CEO Amber Hinds said they will be serving as advisors and playing a role in strategic planning, especially around marketing and plugin development.
The Accessibility Checker plugin currently has approximately 2,000 active installs, according to WordPress.org stats, and the commercial upgrades make up a small percentage of Equalize Digital’s current revenue.
“We built the initial MVP in 2020 with an SBA loan and since then the plugin has been bootstrapped by profits from the service side of our business,” Hinds said. “My partner Steve and I have been splitting our time between client work and working on the plugin.
“We decided to bring on an investor because our ultimate goal is for the product to make up a significant portion of our revenue. It’s challenging to rapidly grow a product that isn’t yet self-sustaining, hence seeking investors. The funds will allow us to have full-time team members building new features, and also further invest in marketing, education, and sales than was possible while we were bootstrapping.”
Hinds said the features her team is targeting are aimed at making the plugin a more competitive accessibility auditing tool when compared with other existing SaaS solutions.
“Our focus right now is making our reports easier to understand by less technical users,” Hinds said. “The next major release with be a feature that allows people to click a button and highlight elements on the front end of the website, which will make it easier to find the element flagging the issue without having to interpret a code snippet.
“Other features that we have on the road map include scanning and reporting on archive pages for posts and taxonomies, improved scanning of non-English sites, and the ability for accessibility testers to log issues found during manual accessibility audits.”
Hinds said she was encouraged by the findings in the recent Admin Bar survey of WordPress professionals, which showed that 76.9% report they are striving for best practices when it comes to website accessibility, a significant increase from the previous year. With the new investment, Equalize Digital will be able to do more marketing to increase awareness and adoption of its tools.
“Ultimately I would like to see accessibility being considered during website builds in the same way that SEO is, and we’re hoping that our plugin will central to that,” Hinds said. “It’s why the free version of our plugin is much more full-featured than similar plugins. Other accessibility tools are prohibitively expensive for small businesses and bloggers. We’re aiming to build a tool that makes accessibility testing available to everyone.”