Melbourne Innovation Centre recently partnered with Darebin City Council for the Darebin Pitch It competition. The competition supports up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the Darebin community to create and scale new social impact businesses. MIC delivered the Accelerator Program to finalists to prepare them for the Pitch It Grand Final—and is thrilled to congratulate Gecko Traxx on winning the grand prize!
Ryan Tilley and Huy Nguyen are unlocking beaches and off-road terrain for wheelchair users with their innovative product, Gecko Traxx. The lightweight wheelchair tracks were inspired by a gecko foot, expanding when in contact with the ground, increasing in surface area, and stopping the tyre from sinking into giving surfaces.
Gecko Traxx can be fitted to any 24” wheelchair—by the user, while seated—with a simple roll and clip into place. The tyre returns to its thin profile at the top and sides of the wheel, in no way hindering the push-rim or the frame of the wheelchair.
The idea originated when Huy, who uses a wheelchair, mentioned to Ryan that he needed a portable way to get to the beach. They began developing ideas to solve the problem and Gecko Traxx was born.
After two years developing the product, they placed as a finalist in the 2019 Darebin Pitch IT contest. The six-week Accelerator Program, delivered intensively by MIC, enabled the team to refine their startup and put them in a strong position for the Pitch It Grand Final.
The end of the night saw them take away the grand prize of $20,000.
As a finalist startup, they participated in the Darebin Pitch IT accelerator program, which Ryan found, “great in validating our thinking and providing us with great connections and networks to help scale and grow our business.”
Of the Darebin Pitch IT accelerator program, Ryan found it, “great in validating our thinking and providing us with great connections and networks to help scale and grow our business.”
Such support is critical during this early-growth phase. Capital is currently a challenge as they try to grow and establish the business, scaling firstly into the Australian market before moving international. “As a hardware product, tooling and upfront costs are significant and these need to be overcome before we can scale up production.”
Production is based in Melbourne. The pair believe in great local talent to provide unique, custom manufacturing solutions to create an overall cost-effective product. “It is the best way to iron out any bugs during the initial manufacturing stage,” Ryan adds.
Community interest is high, with positive feedback and product pre-sales. The tracks can be funded under the NDIS package.
Looking forward, this is only the beginning of an intended range of outdoor assistive technology products. The pair’s goal is to partner with a large existing outdoor brand to make assistive technology more accessible and mainstream.
At its core, Gecko Traxx, “allow people with limited mobility to access and enjoy the great outdoors.”
Bonus Content! Ryan’s Pitching Tips:
“I definitely try to focus on the problem I am solving and how that benefits the end user. Pitching works best when you can get the audience to really empathise with the problem and almost picture themselves in that position. It can be too easy to focus on the product and how great it is and what it can do instead.
“I have found that investors are looking for passion and a good team in which they can trust will be successful, the idea and plan for execution are secondary to a good team.”