From the CEO

Fable’s next chapter – making inclusive product development the standard

Alwar Pillai
Co-founder and CEO

We are thrilled to announce that Fable has raised a $10.5M USD Series A funding round led by Five Elms Capital to make inclusive product development the standard.

We are excited to bring on investors who are committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities, including Difference Partners and John Ruffolo—widely regarded as Canada’s most prominent investor and an advocate for accessibility and inclusion. This round follows a $1.5M USD seed round led by Disruption Ventures in 2020.

Fable’s co-founders, Alwar & Abid, answer your questions

Fable’s co-founders, Alwar & Abid, answer your questions

Origins

The digital products we use reflect the people who build them more than the people who use them.

Abid and I started Fable in 2018, having seen first-hand the challenges enterprises were having tackling accessibility. I was working at my ‘dream-job’ as the Accessibility Manager at one of Canada’s largest telcos. But rather than excitement, I was confused. Confused at the process of building accessible products didn’t include the people who experienced the challenges of inaccessibility.

Despite the efforts of organizations working on accessibility, most of the digital world was, and remains, inaccessible to people with disabilities. This is not a problem of intention, but of outcome. Teams are not intentionally designing products that exclude users. The lack of diversity, accessibility knowledge, and access to people with disabilities results in product teams leaving users behind.

When you don’t experience the problem, you don’t solve for the problem.

We founded Fable to change that. We launched our flagship product, Fable Engage, to make it easy for product teams to quickly gather feedback from people with disabilities, at any stage of the product development cycle. We built a community of assistive technology users and made it easy for our customers to engage with them. We also made sure that accessibility would never become a bottleneck. We prioritized speed of delivery and integration into common development practices, and ultimately, we’ve helped our customers operationalize accessibility.

Changing processes and changing behaviour

But Fable isn’t just making processes more efficient, we are changing the way product teams think about building products. Conventional wisdom, such as designing for the average user, suggests that product development should focus on the needs of the masses (the 80%). Fable flips this on its head. We empower customers to design for the 20%. By focusing on the needs of those at the margins, the edge cases, our customers build products that are far more innovative, simpler and easier to use.

Our work to date has resulted in countless ‘aha moments’— the moment when a researcher, designer, or developer is exposed to a user unable to use the product they built. This is infuriating – but, more importantly, it sparks action. Once you’ve seen a person with a disability unable to use your product, it’s impossible to ignore. An ‘aha moment’ shifts thinking and behavior, and builds awareness.

From product to platform

Our goal is to help more customers experience these ‘aha moments’. Regardless of the stage, we meet each customer where they are in their unique inclusive product development journey.

Using Fable Engage unlocks a suite of modernized research and testing methodologies, allowing teams to gather feedback through video-based user interviews, prototype reviews, and compatibility tests. Our quick turnaround time has shifted accessibility from a bottleneck to a driver of innovation, empowering teams to take action earlier and more often. Meanwhile, finding participants, scheduling sessions, and handling payments are all managed automatically – all the benefits with none of the hassle. This approach is resonating with customers, and we’ve grown over 15x in the last two years.

But as we’ve brought on more customers, we’ve also recognized a serious skill shortage in inclusive product development. And our customers have asked us to help fill the gap through education and training. That’s why we launched our second product, Fable Upskill. Fable Upskill uses custom, video-based courses to help teams gain the accessibility skills they need to build inclusive products. And customers like Walmart are jumping at the opportunity.

Inclusive product development

Circular graphic showing three concepts with arrows pointing from one to the next. Arrows go from Meaningful Engagements, to Measure Accessibility, to Track progress. An arrow from outside of the circle points to Meaningful Engagements, demonstrating the starting point.

Our ambitions

Ultimately, our goal is to empower people with disabilities to participate, contribute, and shape society.

To achieve this, we must change the status quo. We must change how we build products. We already count some of the tech world’s behemoths — Meta, Walmart, Microsoft — amongst our customers. This new funding will help us bring inclusive product development to even more organizations. I am incredibly grateful to our community, our customers, our team, our investors, and everyone else who has been an early believer along this journey. We’re just getting started.

Thank you,
Alwar

Origins

The digital products we use reflect the people who build them more than the people who use them.

Abid and I started Fable in 2018, having seen first-hand the challenges enterprises were having tackling accessibility. I was working at my ‘dream-job’ as the Accessibility Manager at one of Canada’s largest telcos. But rather than excitement, I was confused. Confused at the process of building accessible products didn’t include the people who experienced the challenges of inaccessibility.

Despite the efforts of organizations working on accessibility, most of the digital world was, and remains, inaccessible to people with disabilities. This is not a problem of intention, but of outcome. Teams are not intentionally designing products that exclude users. The lack of diversity, accessibility knowledge, and access to people with disabilities results in product teams leaving users behind.

When you don’t experience the problem, you don’t solve for the problem.

We founded Fable to change that. We launched our flagship product, Fable Engage, to make it easy for product teams to quickly gather feedback from people with disabilities, at any stage of the product development cycle. We built a community of assistive technology users and made it easy for our customers to engage with them. We also made sure that accessibility would never become a bottleneck