Probably one of the most painful things about the lives of people with disabilities is how they’re unable to carry out their day-to-day activities with dignity.
A lot of them aren’t able to afford high-performance wheelchairs and other mobility support devices. As a result, they struggle and make do with cheap alternatives.
This is exactly what Sumanth Mudaliar noticed – people with lower limb disabilities had no other option but to move about streets and roads on a board by pushing their hands on the ground.
Due to the inefficiency of the board, disabled people would get their hands bruised on the road, and also be exposed to hygiene issues.
Sumanth Mudaliar was in their final year of engineering when he came across this pain point.
It was then when Sumanth’s batchmate Vishrut Bhatt teamed up with him and together, they decided to do something concrete to address this problem.
Sumanth and Vishrut began researching and innovating a cost-effective device called Handicare. In 2016, the first prototype was ready only after having long discussions with people with disabilities in centres across Ahmedabad.
The entrepreneur duo had managed to make a device for people with lower limb disabilities through which they could move without the need to touch their hands to the ground. It must be mentioned that this was especially for people who couldn’t afford wheelchairs.
After giving Handicare to people to try and test for themselves, a lot of feedback came in. For instance, there were issues with the weight and thickness of the board.
All of this was resolved in the coming months. To test Handicare from a medical perspective, they sent the device to civil hospitals in Ahmedabad.
What was the final design of Handicare?
After months of testing and refining the device with every piece of feedback, Handicare was finally ready.
- The device has handlebars that can be moved. When that is done, the front wheel moves forward.
- As friction is increased, the device moves forward in an easier fashion.
- To speed up, the user simply has to move the handlebars more frequently.
In January 2019, the duo launched their company Onceptual Technologies with the device Handicare. The startup was running in full swing, and Handicare started being sold officially.
But in February 2019, a turning point came for the business.
The Aarohan Awards
The came across the form for Aarohan Awards under Infosys Foundation on LinkedIn. They filled out the form on LinkedIn.
After certain rounds and competing with 20 other startups, the entrepreneurs won a Rupees 15 lakhs award for their contribution towards the betterment of the lives of people with disabilities.
The Aarohan Awards helped them scale their business as well.
Onceptual Technologies was bootstrapped and had no investment till then. Handicare, too, wasn’t very well-known because of the lack of proper marketing and network building.
But with the Rupees 15 lakhs that Sumnath and Vishrut won, they were able to utilize the funds in their startup.
They set up a manufacturing facility. Additionally, they tied up with suppliers who would later assist them in a lot of ways.
The way forward
Sumanth Mudaliar and Vishrut Bhatt did not stop at Handicare. They have been engaged in building devices for people with disabilities to ease their life and add comfort that they have never experienced.
For example, in 2020, the startup launched the Mobula, an electric scooter that can be used by disabled people and elderly men and women both indoors and outdoors. It can cover a distance of 25 kilometres on a single charge.
The duo wants to continue working in this field and uplift the lives of people with disabilities.
As for Handicare, it currently has 5,000 customers across India.
To know more about the startup, visit its website