Toronto-Based Accessibility Innovation Goes International
Five years ago, Chris suffered a spinal cord injury and using a wheelchair suddenly became a reality for him. During one particularly long cruise using his powerchair, Chris remembers suffering heatstroke and dehydration, and needed a paramedic to help cool down his body. He remembers thinking: “this can’t happen again, there’s got to be a better way!”
He wanted to be able to commute comfortably and not worry about having a secure and convenient place to access beverages on his wheelchair. Chris noted that ”all the conventional wheelchair cup holders on the market were either too flimsy or mounted in a way that could be easily knocked off my chair. I needed something that would work for my limited hand function and would also never get knocked off. That's when HandiCup was born!”
HandiHelp.ca is an accessibility innovation company that focuses on improving quality of life through smart, ergonomic, user-centric solutions. Their products and services are designed for people with accessibility needs, by people with accessibility needs. HandiCup is the organization’s first market-ready solution for people losing their beverages when travelling through doorways using a mobility device.
ShopHERE brought Chris' vision to light and enabled him to create his store on Shopify with his super supportive ShopHERE Coordinator. “Originally my thoughts were only around experimentation with Shopify. However, when the final version of the website was finished, I immediately knew that there is no way I could continue being effective in click conversions to sales in the online world without the Shopify platform.”
Having a coordinator who was extremely thorough and often set up one-on-one meetings to help set up Chris’ store quickly and effectively. The program helped HandiCup navigate the new market created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chris mentions
“As the scale of the pandemic became clear my sales essentially evaporated. When I finally changed my mindset to seeing this as an opportunity to go 100% online, I quickly realized that if I was able to manage, increase, and polish my online presence – this would be a huge opportunity for my company.”
Chris has now managed to expand sales to Europe and Australia, having worldwide exposure and sales in a matter of weeks after launching his store!
Chris believes that having a professional and polished online presence lets customers know that you are serious, up to date, and ready to provide an experience that is familiar and simple to navigate. “If you’re using a website that is simply static with no backend and analytics or shipping and delivery integration, you’re literally living in the dark ages of the Internet. The ShopHERE Program is a huge opportunity to go 100% online, reach more people but most importantly be efficient with your time and money,” says Chris.
Checkout Chris’s vision and shop Handihelp products HERE. To learn more about the ShopHERE Program click HERE. To learn more about Digital Main Street and how it is helping local businesses survive the pandemic, click HERE.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19 in Southern Ontario.