Eppur, the startup that re-invented the (wheelchair) wheel

It all started with an uncontrollable skid. ” One day, I witnessed a completely surreal scene: I saw in front of me a man losing control in his wheelchair on a slope. “, said Colin Gallois, a young 24 -year -old businessman.” Then I discovered with frustration that most wheelchairs have no brakes! People should use their hands as pads, rub them on the wheel and apply vigorously to all upper limbs. “, He imitates. Until your palms burn!

An injustice set by the young engineering school graduate to fix. Six years working on this project on evenings and weekends, in conjunction with his work as a bicycle designer for the Btwin brand of Decathlon. His obsession? Build a patented braking system, which is adaptable to any wheelchair. Quite in the style of Dutch bicycles and their backpedaling system …

Proprietary and patented braking technology

In 2020, Eppur decided to entrust the design of the braking system to a design office … which gave no satisfaction. So, the startup considers that you are no better served than yourself. ” We then asked Matthias Portellano, an engineer who specializes in design and micromechanics, to help us. This allowed us to 100% re-integrate the design of our braking system Eppur has therefore now mastered its technology down to the smallest detail.

After many prototypes and some testing, the Dreeft – that’s the name of the wheelchair equipped with an innovative braking system – came up with one of its most beautiful versions. ” About twenty testers gave us incredible product feedback », Colin Gallois rejoices, always ready to show up.

“This system, integrated with the pair of wheels, now allows anyone, regardless of their pathology or age, to brake, slow down and turn without any hand friction and with five times less effort., Even in the rainy season ”, summarizes Colin Gallois, joined in his entrepreneurial adventure by one of his colleagues, Lancelot Durand.

Industrial pre-production series

The demand is now there as the first pre-orders are increasing. According to a field survey, conducted by Eppur with more than 150 people in wheelchairs, braking is not only physically demanding (up to the point of deviation from course or loss of control) but it leads to musculoskeletal disorders. of the upper legs, especially the shoulders and wrists. ” Moreover, today there is no direct competition. There is no progressive braking solution that exists on the market and cake icing, our product is completely complementary to propulsion aid products, which are becoming increasingly popular. “said the engineer.

The first industrial pre-series is done. This should make it possible to get started with innovation certification. And in pre-marketing, especially to resellers of medical equipment.

We have been approached by several importers in Argentina or Australia, who want to be the first to market Dreeft. We are talking to major wheelchair manufacturers, who may include this option in their offer. We also need to communicate our product to prescribers such as rehabilitation doctors or occupational therapists “, enumerating the leader.

Reimbursed immediately by health insurance?

More importantly, Eppur is taking a further step towards recognizing this “medical” device to be covered by Health Insurance.

We will submit a dossier to identify Dreeft as a class I medical device. We are collaborating on clinical studies that will allow us to add the LPPR (List of Product and Reimbursable Service) line as a brand name, which with a view to a reimbursement of a pair of social security tires “.

Stated goal: to market 4,000 pairs of tires in Europe, Canada and the USA, by 2024, for an estimated turnover of 4.5 million euros.

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The “10,000 startups to change the world” prize is the largest startup competition in France. It was organized by La Tribune in collaboration with BNP Paribas, the French Tech Mission, Bpifrance, Business France, the Overseas Ministry, Dalika and the National Order of Chartered Accountants.

The “10,000 startups to change the world” rewards the most promising French startups over 10 years in six categories containing the challenges of tomorrow: Environment and Energy, Industry of the future, Data and IA, Smart tech -use innovations-, Health and Start -nuggets in the seed phase. On a tour of France between January and March in 8 French cities (Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Paris, Strasbourg and Lille), the jury of its experts and journalists awarded 6 startups in each region, by category, ie 48 wins in the region.

These winners competed in the final on March 14 in Paris, to assign them 9 national grand prizes: one in each category, as well as a Coup de Coeur prize, an Impact prize and an International prize . The 10th prize was also awarded to a startup from abroad, along with four award-winning finalists in Reunion, the Caribbean zone (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana) and the Polynesia zone (Tahiti, New Caledonia). The 10 prizes were awarded on March 28, 2022 at the Grand Rex in Paris. After his victory in the Lille regional selection, Eppur was the national winner in the Start category.