Get to know the inventor of WheelAir, Corien Staels

How long have you worked for WheelAir and how did you get into the industry?
WheelAir was first developed two-and-a-half years ago, and we’ve been incorporated for 18 months. I was introduced to the industry by my research after my wheelchair-using university supervisor mentioned overheating.

Which other company (inside or outside the industry) do you most admire and why?
I admire the amount of Scottish wheelchair related start-ups such as Carbon Black Systems, Freedom One and Phoenix Instinct. It feels like we’re changing the game together.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Surround yourself with people that are better than you.

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What’s the hardest part of your job?
The management of it all: manufacturing, design, staff, distributors, retailers, athletes, end-users, organisations, investment, a life etc. Luckily, we’re building a strong team to divide the tasks and provide everyone with the best service.

What do you most enjoy about working in the industry?
Seeing the smile on someone’s face when they first test the WheelAir. There is nothing as rewarding as being able to help people with your products.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into work in the morning?
We always start with a quick run through with the team of the urgent matters of the day, after which I make an urgent ‘to do list’ of the ‘to do list’ and answer emails for a good hour.

What’s your biggest achievement in the industry to date?
It has been a phenomenal feeling to receive the interest we’ve had for WheelAir to date while only being at prototype stage. The biggest achievement will however be our first official sale in October of the fully manufactured WheelAir.

Tell us something about yourself that none of your colleagues know?
I actually have a social life!

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Reading the ‘Woman trapped in window while trying to retrieve poo’ article on BBC. I urge everyone to Google this.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Snowboarding when the snow permits, running, listening to and playing music, and anything to do with good food.

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you buy?
Not very inspiring, but probably a house. Getting a mortgage as an entrepreneur is pretty impossible at the moment.

In a word

Favourite food: Beef/beer stew with Belgian fries
Favourite drink:
Vanillejenever
Favourite holiday destination:
Japan
Favourite band / music artist:
Anderson Paak
Favourite film:
Het Smelt – Lize Spit

Favourite TV show: Chef’s Table
Favourite shop:
Whole Foods
Favourite gadget:
iPhone
Favourite thing you own:
My grandmother’s Second World War violin

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