As part of my series of interviews with impact leaders at the NOAH conference, I spoke with Ignacio Estellés.
Ignacio’s story is both inspiring and impactful. In 2019 he spotted an opportunity to improve the lives of a neighbouring family in Madrid by adapting a toy into an emobility device. His innovation has since gone on to change the lives of 1,000s.
This is his story…
NOAH Conference, 2021
Impact Tech Leader Interview With:
Igancio and Pablo are inventors, friends and partners in a previous company (Rotorbike). They live Madrid, and in his apartment building on the 7th floor lives a family with a child, Joselete, who suffers with cerebral palsy. They noticed that as the child grew older and bigger, the physical strain of caring for their child started to have detrimental health impacts for the parents - such as hip and back problems.
Coinciding with this, Ignacio and Pablo had noticed children in the neighbourhood whizzing around on two-wheeled “hover-boards” and wondered whether these could be adapted to help propel wheelchairs.
They set to work with his team to create a prototype.
The aim was to connect the hover-board to the wheelchair, and enable the parent or carer to effortlessly pilot the wheelchair simply by adjusting their balance on the hover-board.
After a few iterations, Mooevo was born.
The Mooevo prototype was good enough to invite his neighbours for a test drive. The excitement and relief was immediate. After only a few minutes of set up and training, the parents were able to move their wheelchair-bound child further, faster and with significantly greater ease (and enjoyment) than ever before.
Estellés described the moment of joy as he, the parents, and the child realised how impactful this would be on their daily lives. From that moment, he worked with his team to scale the prototype and create more of these life-changing innovations.
As the word spread, the team started receiving requests from schools asking if they could get access to Mooevo, too.
By March 2020 they had developed 30 prototype models, patented the innovations and were ready to go looking for financial support to help grow the business.
Then COVID hit and everything ground to a rapid, demoralising and frustrating halt.
Helping During COVID
As the escalating crisis unfolded on TV, Ignacio watched interviews with medical staff at the make-shift hospital in Madrid’s largest conference centre, IFEMA. This building became the biggest hospital in EU, and medical staff were walking 10s of kilometres every day. Patients would have to walk 400m to the toilets and showers, or 2km to another building for X-Rays. Staff would have to walk between different pavilions and buildings to treat patients and pick up supplies.
Realising the strain and exhaustion that this was putting on the patients and the already heroic medical teams, Igancio approached a friend of his who was working at the facility to see if his prototype could be of value.
That's flipping amazing - Absolutely love it!!!!
After a short hands-on (or should I say “feet-on”) trial, the potential of these innovative devices was obvious. The response from his friend was simply “how many do you have!?”
The Mooevo team urgently finalised assembly of the 30 prototypes and set about training up a team of volunteers to help move staff and patients around the giant medical facility using hover-board locomotion.
The feedback from staff and patients was amazing. Some patients commented that just feeling the wind in their face was enough to lift their mood and give them a new lease of hope.
"When the tired patients left the hospital and felt the fresh air on their face whilst on the ride to their families, well, that moment of happiness was unbelievable" says Ignacio, "an elderly women told me 'Boy, I never thought that I could survive to live this feeling again'".
After just a few days, the director of the facility approached Estellés to see if the system could be expanded to help move the volumes of paper reports and medical supplies around the vast campus.
After the makeshift hospital was disbanded, the workers approached Ignacio and Pablo, asking if it was possible to adapt the Mooevos from wheelchairs to logistics carts, to help them move hundreds of tons of medical equipment and materials.
Mooevo was an instant success, but as the pandemic wore on, the demand for mobility slowed as more people became housebound. However, this lead to another opportunity for the team to work their magic. During this time, eCommerce boomed resulting in a rapid increase in the amount of parcels and packages that needed to be delivered. With some small modifications Mooevo was adapted to help support this need too.
In just two years since setting out to help improve the lives of a neighbouring family, Ignacio and the team have already changed 100s of lives with just 30 units.
Today, Mooevo’s market has now expanded to include hospitals, wheelchair users, post and parcel delivery, and local government services such as street cleaning and waste management.
Mooevo’s next step is to industrialise their designs, ramp up production and start delivering to waiting customers. Part of this strategy is raising additional funds through a crowd funding campaign. Check that out, and support them if you can.
After speaking with Ignacio, I was so inspired and excited, I mentioned the idea to a couple of friends who also care for a severely disabled child. Their response was simply “That's flipping amazing - Absolutely love it!!!!”, followed by an immediate purchase inquiry via mooevo.com.
Final thought from Ignacio
Adapting off-the-shelf technology in innovative ways is our way of trying to make this world a better place. When I see the smiles of the people using Mooevo, it is worth everything. We call it the Mooevo smile.