Fred Mercedes, Founder and CEO, Web Accessibility Specialist, Blue Beacon Creative, New York, NY
Q. What did you want to be when you were a little kid?
A. I loved computers and technology. I grew up in a place where we didn’t have a lot of money, so I learned to be creative and make things out of stuff that other people didn’t want. At the same time, I was always thinking about space and dreaming of becoming an astronaut.
These interests made me want to study computer science. I see this subject as a big adventure where there’s always something new to learn. In a way, it’s like I’m exploring space, but I’m doing it through my computer.
Q. What does your company do?
A. We’re a digital consultancy on a mission to bring equal access to the web for everyone. We create accessible websites to help you and your team reach untapped markets while reducing marketing costs and promoting inclusivity.
Q. How long has your company been in business?
A. Since October 2018.
Q. Can you tell us about why and how you started the company?
A. I started Blue Beacon Creative because I wanted to make a big change. I used to work a regular job from 9 to 5, and it made me feel frustrated. I was trying to get them to think about how to make their digital stuff easier for everyone to use, including people with disabilities. But it felt like they didn’t really understand why it was so important.
I realized I needed to do more. So, I saved up some money, quit my job and decided to focus on helping make digital stuff — like websites and apps — work for everyone, no matter their abilities.
You see, right now, about 90% of the internet doesn’t work well for people with disabilities. A lot of companies just use the same old website designs and quick fixes to get a website up and running.
Q. Hat has been your biggest business challenge in the past year?
A. The hardest part of my work this past year has been getting people to understand that there is a big problem with how we make websites and apps. Most people do not even know there is an issue, so they are not looking for ways to fix it.
But I’ve come up with some clever ways to show people what’s going wrong. I’ve been making helpful educational content to teach people about the other things I’m good at, like UX Design and Web Development. Then, while they’re learning about those things, I also talk about how we can make websites and apps easier for everyone to use. This way, accessibility becomes a normal part of the process.
Q. What is one thing that makes you stand out from your competition?
A. I’ve come up with a special way of making websites that I call Deep Dive. A website is just one part of a person’s experience with a business. With my Deep Dive process, I make sure your business is ready for anything. I look at SEO, coding, making your site work for everyone, how fast your pages load, the information on your site, and how you market your business.
Q. What do you wish you had more time to do?
A. I wish I had more time for writing and outdoor sports like Tough Mudders. When I’m not working, I like to write stories, and right now I’m working on a science fiction novel. I would love to do more of this, but work keeps me busy!
Q. What’s your favorite place in the world you’ve ever visited?
A. New York, and I’m lucky enough to live there. I love New York because it’s like having the whole world in one city.
Q. What is one piece of business advice you would offer your LGBTQ+ peers?
A. Make your website easy for everyone to use. According to LGBTmap.org, there are a lot of people in our community who have a disability:
• 2 out of every 5 transgender adults
• 1 out of every 4 LGB adults
• 40% of bisexual men
• 36% of lesbian women
• 36% of bisexual women
• 26% of gay men
We in the LGBTQ+ community know what it feels like to be left out. That’s why we try to include everyone.
How to connect … bluebeaconcreative.com