Re-inventing the Wheel(Air) in The Netherlands
WheelAir - the start-up behind the first temperature control system designed for, and to fit all wheelchairs - launched its wholly-owned Dutch subsidiary. The move comes after a strong year for the company, in which it expanded its product range and launched version two of the WheelAir system.
WheelAir®, described as “the Dyson of the mobility industry,” uses active airflow to allow for self-regulation of wheelchair users’ body temperature through convection, conduction, and evaporation heat loss.
The product is a result of six months of graduate research where Corien, the founder and managing director, first became aware of the cooling problems experienced by wheelchair users. It soon became clear that overheating was not just a problem for those with a spinal cord injury, but the majority of those in wheelchairs.
Since its introduction to the market in 2017, WheelAir systems have been sold internationally, providing life-changing results for people all over the world.
Corien has been awarded numerous accolades for WheelAir, such as Entrepreneur of the Year by the University of Glasgow in 2017, Scottish Edge Round 10 winner, Design and Creativity Award - Converge Challenge 2017 winner, and AccelerateHER 2019 winner.
Starting a Business in the Netherlands
“With sales increasing in Europe, we thought that now is the time to branch out,” said Corien Staels, WheelAir Managing Director. “We want to take the time to support the business’ growth fully and to make it a commercial success. And the best way to do this is to open the Dutch subsidiary.”
She continued: “Expanding to the Netherlands means that not only will we still be spending as much time as possible with customers in the UK, but with the new offices near Rotterdam, we will be able to spend time with our lovely customers around Europe.”
In the beginning of 2020, WheelAir opened an office near Rotterdam, in Nieuwekerk aan den Ijssel.
Chairman of WheelAir, Albert Nicholl said: “The expansion of WheelAir to include a new facility in Rotterdam puts the company in a strong position to not only work more closely with suppliers but to more easily deliver the exemplary customer service that people have become used to from us.”
Working with INCO
Starting a company in a new country while still being based in another one was both daunting and confusing. It was vital to have a partner who could guide us through the incorporation process and help us set up a strong foundation for growth in the Netherlands.
INCO was recommended to me through Rotterdam Partners after positive feedback from one of the companies they previously assisted settling in the Netherlands. The team at INCO seemed to cover all the topics I had questions about and was able to provide a step by step guide almost, as well as continuing support. As an entrepreneur, you want your admin life to be as seamless as possible, so it looked like a good fit.
What I like the most about our collaboration is trust. I was able to have in your understanding of the Dutch incorporation process.
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“As a startup, you always work with limited resources. Having a partner that understands Dutch incorporation, accounting and legal procedures was essential to maximise our efforts”
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Corien Staels, WheelAir’s founder and CEO:
The WheelAir team is working on expanding the reach of its newly launched 2nd generation product, with new distribution contracts set up in Germany, New Zealand and Hong Kong in the first quarter of 2020. The focus in 2020 lies on further strengthening clinical research around the topics of overheating, wound healing and skincare and how WheelAir can make an impact. Several studies have been set up with UK partners, but the company is keen to engage with the Dutch network too. The most important task of all though is to make it out of this crisis as a sustainable business.
“With sales increasing in Europe we thought that now is the time to branch out so that we can be closer to our customers,”