MOVING AND GROOVING
COOL Mobility Pty Ltd
Colin Johanson & Moira McEwan
Company set up 2007 after five years of R&D.
The global market for the disabled equipment is “gargantuan”. In 2004, the US market alone for electric wheelchairs topped US$2 billion. “The vast majority of these were designed and manufactured by non disabled people with little regard for style, weight or innovation – and limited input from the users.”
No capital has been raised as yet. Personal savings have covered international patents applied for and R&D
Would you find it acceptable today to be forced to use an original mobile phone? You know the type, the size of a house-brick! Or how about when buying a car if there was no sports car option available to you? Electric power wheelchairs are stuck in a conservative rut and are still made like those old phones.
Until now, there have been no sporty versions available. Our concept breaks free of these outmoded constraints and demonstrates that power wheelchairs can be light, compact, portable and, of course, “Cool”.
Thirty years ago, a hang-gliding accident left me a quadriplegic. It may have altered my life plan, but not my drive to invent or, for that matter, to make money! I originally came up with this idea over 25 years ago, driven by my own personal wants. Technology has, at last, advanced to a point where a technologically-advanced electric wheelchair can now be built. I was positive that my design was special and had great capabilities. This has been reinforced by incredible feedback from potential users and health professionals following on from winning the 2006 People’s Choice Award on last year’s New Inventors program.
My design innovation is extra compact indoors, yet extends to give a longer wheelbase for safe and stable outdoor driving. This patented aspect has attracted a great swell of interest worldwide. We intend to change the current powered chair design paradigm, by example and market demand.
THE EXPERTS WEIGH IN
“The market is surprisingly large which is a great plus, but the company should definitely think hard about the potential competitive response when going head-to-head with established market players. Partnering with a larger organisation looking to enter the market could provide a rich source of resources.”
Malcolm Thornton, Starfish Ventures
“The product sounds great and reminds me of a motorbike wheelchair I saw around a University last week. The ageing market presents a great opportunity provided that this is a market that wants ‘cool’ wheelchairs. I am concerned about the distribution strategy and hope that the business is based on some type of outsourced model. Ideally, I would like to see orders taken to further prove market potential and minimise start-up cost.”
David Southwick, Entrepreneur-In-Residence, Victoria University
“The benefits of this innovation are well-articulated. However, there is no mention of market potential or commercialisation strategy. How strong is the intellectual property position and in which markets is the innovation protected? I would be wary of competitors in the space and probably seeking to partner with an established player with manufacturing capabilities and distribution channels in international markets.”
Dr Shirley Lanning, Watermar