By Erika Menezes
For Occupational Therapist, Rebecca Scott, making sure everyone can access the right assistive technology (AT) to make the everyday and extraordinary possible is paramount. As CEO and Co-founder of Eazilee, the Staff/Alumni Stream Winner of the 2021 Deakin Startup Competition has made this a reality and is set to transform AT accessibility for consumers and professionals alike.
Her startup, Eazilee, is an AT peer-review platform that shares the experience and expertise of AT users, health professionals and sellers of AT solutions, so regular people can find the right technology to do the things they love. Knowing consumers rely on reviews for travel, food, and products, it made sense to Rebecca and her Eazilee Co-founders, Lorenzo Lorefice and Simon Dawes, that consumers could also benefit from this shared knowledge when buying AT too.
Eazliee’s founders’ unique mix of shared experience is also uniquely suited to create a thoughtful, fit-for-purpose peer-review platform that merges knowledge of AT, technology and design.
“My background is in Occupational Therapy, Lorenzo’s in creative design and Simon’s in technology which makes for a special combination. We all share a real passion for AT and helping people make the right choices for themselves. We also have a fabulous team of volunteers from around the world, it’s been amazing to have people reach out who want to be part of our journey,” said Rebecca.
Get to know Rebecca
Congratulations on winning the Deakin Startup Competition! How do you spend your time when you’re not participating in startup Competitions and running Eazilee? What are your passions and interests?
I’m a proud mum of 3 amazing humans who inspire me every day to leave the world a little better than I found it. I spend my time hanging with my family, running our coworking space business, Workers Hut, [which Rebecca also co-founded!], digging in the garden, reading books, drinking tea and dreaming about far off places and post COVID adventures.
I’m interested in people’s adventures in life and business and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. You save so much time by learning from others rather than looking for answers on your own.
I’m passionate about inclusion, embracing diversity and doing my bit to build a world where kindness is the greatest measure of success.
Did you always know that you wanted to create startups or be an entrepreneur?
Honestly, I never thought about starting a business in my early career. It was when my frustration reached a tipping point and my business-minded partner gave me the space and belief to try new things that I stopped thinking someone else should [find a solution to the issues I identified and] decided to give it a crack.
AT is at the heart of Eazilee. Where does your passion for AT come from?
It comes from my experience as an Occupational Therapist, AT is a core part of Occupational Therapy. When I was practicing I was always keeping an eye on new technologies that might make a difference for my clients.
Being able to draw on 20 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist must have been really helpful when creating Eazilee. What were some of the struggles you navigated while working as an Occupational Therapist that inspired you to start Eazliee?
It was always really hard to know what was out there and to feel confident if you hadn’t used something before. AT is continuing to evolve every day, what used to just be walking sticks, wheelchairs and bathroom aids has evolved into thinking about how smart homes, autonomous vehicles and inclusive software can be used to positively impact the lives of people living with disability.
How did you find out about the Deakin Startup Competition?
I work at Deakin so it came across my inbox and I thought, ‘Why not?’
What key learnings did you gain from participating in the Deakin Startup Competition?
It was great to have the space to focus on the business. The [Deakin] Startup Competition helped us to go back to our why, for Eazliee, that’s our customers. The SPARK Deakin team, especially Asja Svilans, Olga Hogan and Isaac Jeffries gave us such a genuine supportive space to be our authentic selves.
Eazilee – making life easier for everybody
When did you start working on Eazilee?
[My Co-founders and I] had been playing with the concept of Eazilee for the last couple of years, but hit the ground running early 2020.
Why does the world need Eazilee?
The AT space is complex.
Sometimes decision-making involves lots of people, funding bodies and waitlists. Despite the fact that there’s a growing number of suppliers and products there are very few websites providing authentic reviews from people who matter – users!
AT is expensive and making a great choice can be life-changing.
Ezaliee is about sharing honest advice from peers and health professionals, ensuring they’re buying the right tech that’s fit for purpose and can be proud to use in public.
How did you come up with the name ‘Eazilee’?
I really wanted the name of our business to represent what we are trying to achieve, which is to help everyday people do everyday things a little more easily.
What started you on your journey to create Eazilee? You mentioned reaching a tipping point with the way things were.
Eazilee was born from my frustrations as an Occupational Therapist. I wondered why in a world full of innovation, flair and design there was no centralised space to learn about all the new technology being made around the world. Searching was like going down the rabbit hole.
I was also frustrated that ugly design often sat beside the word ‘disability’ and that the online experience was so mediocre. Around the same time, a young family member became critically ill. I didn’t understand why it was so hard for him to find a pair of shoes that catered to his needs and that he was happy to wear to the pub.
EaziIee has a unique rating system. Where did you get the idea for penguins as your measure of ratings?
Who doesn’t love a penguin? Penguins really stood out to me because of how they adapted since losing their ability to fly millions of years ago. We underestimate how flexible, adaptable and creative people living with a disability are, in solving both simple and complex everyday challenges. We really wanted to celebrate that. So even though a penguin mightn’t be able to fly the same as all the other birds in the sky, they sure can fly in the water.
The Future and Beyond
What organisations would you like Eazilee to work with in the future?
It would be amazing to be able to collaborate with:
- events like the Paralympics to showcase the technology behind the athletes, and
- with national sporting organisations like the AFL to show young kids the opportunities they have to participate.
- I also love Runway of Dreams and everything they have achieved promoting inclusive clothing design.
Whether it be sport, art, music, etc. I want all kids living with any challenge to know that their dreams are possible.
What changes would you like to see in the broader society in integration and embracing AT?
It’s inspiring to see the possibilities for the future of AT. Increasingly, I think, larger corporations are starting to pay attention to inclusion and design smarter for everyone. Hopefully, the products of the future really take into account the needs of all people as opposed to just being designed for disability.
It would be great to see AT become more mainstream so that everyone can find what they need and is aware of how technology to help them to be more independent.
Who inspires you and Eazilee?
- AT users: I’m profoundly grateful to everyone who has reached out and shared their AT stories with us. They’re the reason we get up in the morning!
- AT makers: There are so many amazing makers out there creating inclusive products from small startups to big tech. It’s been incredible connecting with so many people with shared goals and seeing the impact their design has on people’s lives.
- Family: I’m lucky to have an amazing partner as a sounding board, who challenges and encourages me to follow a dream.
- Other business owners: I own a coworking space and being surrounded by other people in business inspires me every day. Seeing businesses struggle, pivot and rebound through something like a global pandemic really gives you a push and some perspective.
What’s Eazilee’s vision?
In its simplest form, we want to help people do the things they love by finding the right technology to solve their challenges. From a big picture perspective, I dream of a day when a mum in Australia can ‘eazilee’ connect with a designer in Switzerland who has just created a product that will literally change that family’s life. Where clinicians across the world can share knowledge and designers of AT really listen to the needs of their customers. That’s the world Eazilee is trying to create.
Do you have any advice for people curious about the Deakin Startup Competition?
Apply, even if you’ve never seen yourself as a business owner or an entrepreneur before.
There’s nothing to lose, except the opportunity to be surrounded by people who genuinely care about your success.
SPARK Deakin encouraged us to be in the moment with our businesses and celebrate where we were at, rather than expect us to be more. If you’re thinking about getting involved there is only one question – why not?
If Rebecca’s experience inspired you, send in your EOI for the 2022 Startup Competition today!
2021 Deakin Startup Competition Staff/Alumni Winner Profile
Name: Rebecca Scott
Areas of interest: Occupational therapy, assistive technology, travel, gardening.
Startup name: Eazilee
Eazilee Team: Lorenzo Lorefice and Simon Dawes, Co-founders.
Purpose: We want to help people do the things they love by finding the right technology to solve their challenges. We want to save them time and money and empower them with the information to be confident in their purchasing decisions.
Eazilee’s vision: A world where consumers can connect with designers irrespective of location; where clinicians globally can share knowledge and AT designers really listen to customers’ needs.
Why entrepreneurship? I turned to entrepreneurship after being frustrated that there was no peer-reviewed centralised space to learn about new AT being made around the world.
People who inspire Rebecca: AT users, AT makers, my partner, other business owners.
Now that the Competition is over, what do you feel like you’re capable of now?
We are speaking with investors at the moment so [the Deakin Startup Competition] has helped us to refocus on our mission and what’s right for us moving forward. I feel re-energised and focused on the next steps.
Prize money plans: I wish it was something exciting but it’ll go towards legal and company structure costs, perhaps an end-of-year celebration for our team.
What does success look like this time next year? Growing our community and meeting as many people in the AT community as we can to learn from each other.
Favourite Post-Competition outcomes: Personally, I’m looking forward to new adventures and feeling connected again. For our start-up, it’s about moving into a new chapter; building partnerships and scaling our community and technology.
Advice for future participants: There’s nothing to lose, except the opportunity to be surrounded by people who genuinely care about your success. If you’re thinking about getting involved there is only one question – why not?