ETRise Top MSMEs Ranking: A wheelchair that can climb stairs, travel up to 25 km

The ostrich is the tallest and heaviest bird in the world. It is also the fastest animal on two legs in the world. However, it comes with limited mobility as compared to other birds-it cannot fly. A thought which inspired the founders of Ostrich Mobility, a Bengaluru-based firm which designs and manufactures wheelchairs, mobility scooters, electric home care beds and electric hospital beds, to use the moniker as its brand.

The four founders- Venukrishnan U, Binu J, Harshakumar K S and Sreejith N S were childhood friends and had years of collective experience in various domains in IT and hospitality industries before they started the company in 2007. They made their first electric wheelchair from the wiper motor of an old car.

“On our journey we met hundreds of people who were confined to the four walls of their home for years. There were students who could not go to school. There were people totally dependent on and at the mercy of others,” Venukrishnan told ET Digital.

When the company started, there were limited kinds of wheelchairs available in the country but mostly imported from developed countries and only suitable for sophisticated facilities. These existing wheelchairs posed the challenges of being expensive and not suitable for Indian roads. Venukrishnan added that these imported wheelchairs could not be customised according to the needs of the user.

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The company ventured into making hospital beds and today has eight models.

Ostrich Mobility came up with two patented technologies- Split Frame Chassis, a frame suspension system for wheelchairs to provide comfort, safety, and security to the users; and Automated Wheelbase Adjuster, which provides flexibility to the wheelchair to be used for tight room conditions as the wheelbase automatically adjusts to suit the room & surface needs. Today, Ostrich has nine distinct wheelchairs enabled for both indoor and outdoor conditions and can travel up to 25 km. Some of these include Stair Climbing wheelchair and three models of manual wheelchairs.

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These wheelchairs can be customized as per the needs of the user, and the company provides a doorstep delivery option. The price of these wheelchairs ranges from Rs 69,000 to Rs 3.4 lakh.

“Awareness has also been one of the challenges for us, and besides manufacturing these electric wheelchairs, convincing the customer was an additional effort in the beginning days. Now, we have many customers who commute using our wheelchairs daily for over 5 km. People have realized the availability of such products at affordable prices in India. The government has started issuing electric wheelchairs in place of manual wheelchairs,” he said.

Interestingly, Ostrich’s wheelchairs have made cameos in Indian movies such as Wazir, Bangalore Days and Bypass Road.

In 2014, the company ventured into making hospital beds and today has eight models of multi-functional specialty electric beds like ICU beds, gynecology/birthing beds, tilt table and specialty couches such as examination, dialysis & chemotherapy couches. Cloudnine Hospitals is one of its clients. Apart from this, it also designs and manufactures mobility scooters catering to the mobility challenges of senior citizens. According to Venukrishnan, these mobility scooters are designed concerning the conditions of Indian roads and can be driven in both rural and urban roads.

Talking numbers, Venukrishnan revealed that the company clocked $2.1 million in FY19-20 and is expecting this figure to grow to $4.5 million by FY20-21. Since its inception, it has acquired over 9000 customers and the Ostrich team envisages a global future for itself.

“Ostrich is setting up their export business to Canada and Europe and the Middle East. Considering the innovative features and the price competitiveness, Ostrich will be able to expand the business global,” he said.

ETRise Top MSMEs Ranking: A wheelchair that can climb stairs, travel up to 25 km ETRise Top MSMEs Ranking: A wheelchair that can climb stairs, travel up to 25 km Reviewed by TechCO on 11/12/2020 Rating: 5

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