A US wheelchair manufacturer founded by a NASA engineer has brought in Ottobock’s former global sales boss to lead its new venture into the mobility market with a direct-to-consumer distribution model.
Rowheels has appointed Gaurav Mishra as its CEO and hopes to disrupt the market with what is the world’s first production wheelchair to incorporate patented “pull-wheel” technology.
Designed and assembled in the USA, the Revolution 1.0 claims to be competitively priced wheelchair and marks a major shift in the company’s business model.
The brainchild of NASA engineer and wheelchair-user Salim Naser, Rowheels’ wheel design allows users to propel themselves forward using a pulling (or rowing) action rather than the traditional pushing motion.
The approach pulls the upper-arm away from the shoulder to reduce the upper body pain suffered by up to 70% of traditional wheelchair users, caused by compression of the shoulder joint due to the pushing action.
Rowheels is also fitted with gearing systems that makes it easier to go up inclines and traverse challenging surfaces.
Having sold its pull-wheels to wheelchair users across the world, Rowheels said it has “proven the technology to be effective”, leading the company to develop a complete wheelchair of its own.
In a major shift of the company’s business model, the Revolution will be made available to users directly via the company’s online e-commerce platform, removing the delays users currently face in receiving their wheelchair and the high margins the company feels are associated with the conventional model.
“We have proven the pull-wheel concept and are now poised to disrupt a wheelchair market that is predicted to hit $5.4bn (£4bn) by 2022 and yet has changed little in the last 140 years,” said Mr Mishra.
“Rowheels Revolution gives wheelchair users a better option at an affordable price via an ecommerce platform that challenges the inefficiencies of today’s healthcare system.
“With our ‘ready-to-roll out-of-the-box’ model, we provide a differentiated customer experience not yet seen in the industry, including ease of ordering, premium packaging and quick delivery.
“I believe we can lead the adoption of this innovative disruptive model across similar assistive devices and disability medical devices: cut the cost, pass the savings to the patients, facilitate shorter waiting times and deliver a great patient experience.”
The wheelchair will be launched for global sale on the company’s website from October.