Recent Marist graduate Dana Jones founded a company that makes doors more accessible using a mobile app.
Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?
Hi! My name is Dana Jones and I am 22 years old. I’m an entrepreneur, dog lover and recent graduate of Marist College where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship, previously earning my Associates degree from Dutchess Community College in Business Administration.
I’m passionate about increasing accessibility for those with different abilities, which ultimately led to me founding Accessadoor, LLC. After just starting college, I was struggling to travel from building to building to get to my classes because doors were extremely difficult for me to open independently. The standard ADA door technology didn’t work for me because the buttons were often out of reach or too hard to push, so I often have to wait for others to help me. One day I was stuck in a building because there was no one around to help, so I had to use my phone to text a friend to come let me out. That was the moment where I realized, if I could use my phone to have someone help me, why can’t I just use my phone to open the door? That led to the development of our smartphone application and compatible device that allows users to open accessible doors from their phone verses hitting the manual button.
When I was 18 months old I was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which limits my physical strength. I’ve always had to be inventive and creative to accomplish daily tasks and I think that has lent to my love for entrepreneurship. Now that we are approaching the beta testing phase, our device and app will soon be available to all.
In my free time I love hanging out with my dogs, Tanner and Sky, who are both rescues in addition to spending time with friends and family.
How did you discover the Hudson Valley?
Well I didn’t really have to look far to find the Hudson Valley. I was born and raised right here in Poughkeepsie. There are so many great opportunities here and the Valley has so many things to do. You can go hiking, explore the food scene, and go to one of many local breweries with each one having a unique atmosphere. I don’t ever plan on leaving this region.
Walk us through a typical day.
I normally start my days off pretty early, although once the coronavirus hit, I might have taken advantage of sleeping in a little bit. My dogs wait outside my room every morning at around 8am where they get super excited and do circles around me when I exit my room.
I am not a big breakfast person, so I normally make my way to my phone and computer to catch up on whatever I missed overnight and answer any missed messages. Since our company is run remotely, I typically stay home and work on whatever is needed besides going out for meetings or doing pitches prior to everything shutting down for the virus. Along with many other businesses at this time, we are doing all our meetings via video conference or over the phone to accomplish what needs to be done.
Around lunch time I try to go outside when it is nice out and get some fresh air. I live close to one of the sections of the Dutchess County Rail Trail, so it is nice to hop on and get a change of scenery. It helps clear my head so I can focus on what needs to be completed when I get back.
From there I normally try to wrap up whatever tasks I have to do by 5pm so I can switch back to family activities. One thing I think many entrepreneurs struggle with is work-life balance and I really try to maintain those boundaries and balance what I need to do in my work and personal life.
Do you have a go-to coffee or beer order, and from where?
I like trying different things when I go out so I don’t really have a go-to order, but I love going to Cafe 40 & Co. for meetings or King’s Court Brewing in the City of Poughkeepsie to unwind and catch up with the locals.
Where do you do your best creative work?
I do my best thinking at home at night. I often lay awake and brainstorm or have ideas hit me at 2am. You can often find a notepad and pen on my nightstand where I write all of them down. Half the time when I wake up I have no idea what many of them mean or are referring to, but the silence that night often brings lets me think more freely.
How has the Hudson Valley influenced or impacted your creative work?
One major influence of our work has been the Think Differently initiative brought about by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. Our line of work ultimately is geared towards increasing accessibility for those with physical limitations and different needs. Many individuals often don’t think about what life is like for those with different abilities and this initiative is opening the minds of individuals and increasing awareness for the needs of those with different abilities.
What’s surprised you most about living and working in the Hudson Valley?
I think the one thing that surprised me is what a diverse area it is for leisure activities, but also for running a company. There are so many resources for business owners such as WEDC, Think Dutchess, the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and CO. in Rhinebeck. It is great being able to connect with different individuals who have common interests, but it is even better that most people here want to help each other succeed. There are many networks that help you connect to others in your field or complimentary fields to help you progress in your career.
As far as living goes, it is such a great area because it is close in proximity to NYC, but you don’t have to commit to city life. I have no interest in living in the city, but it is nice to visit and tap into the available resources to improve our business without having the price tag that comes along with living there.
What do you hope to see for the Hudson Valley in the next five years?
It would be great to see more student-centered programs in business and leadership provided outside of the school systems to retain the students who are graduating from the local colleges. There is so much to do and see here and if people saw everything the region had to offer as far as personal and career growth, I bet many would stay here instead of moving to the city.
Why is it so important for establishments to increase their accessibility?
There are many reasons why establishments should emphasize accessibility and make sure they can accommodate individuals of all abilities, but it is especially important because everyone should have equal access. The simplest of changes such as adding a push button to the door, making sure the store layout has wide enough aisles and lowering a checkout counter can make huge differences. Everyone should be able to go on a carefree trip without having to call ahead to make sure a place is accessible. Universal design is going to play a large role in making the world more accessible and should be something all establishments should investigate.
Are you part of any local groups or communities you’d like to mention?
I serve as a Think Dutchess Ambassador!
Anything you want to plug or promote?
We are accepting pre-orders for Accessadoor at our website www.accessadoor.com. Be a part of the first group to get this life changing technology!