We’re on a mission to democratize quality assistive products.
We believe that no person should be left behind and we are working to help people with disabilities to fully participate in life.
Four founders on a mission
Participant was founded in 2018 by four friends with over 100 years of experience working in assistive technology. They are on a mission to solve a stubborn and unacceptable problem: approximately 40 million people in middle-income countries don’t have access to the wheelchair they need to get out and participate in life. Participant was formed out of the belief that no one should be left behind. We work tirelessly to make the world more inclusive for the people we serve.
Meerkats are more than just cute
The meerkats on our logo represent our friendly, collaborative working style and our vision of a community that looks out for each other. That inclusive community contrasts to the isolation and exclusion that can come with disability. We envision a more inclusive life for people with disabilities, enabling them to participate in all aspects of life from play to school to work - whatever it means to the individual.
High-quality products without the high price tag
Affordability is part of the solution but first and foremost, our products must work well for our user community who have diverse lifestyles and environments. We also keep in mind the providers who need smooth and flexible products which can be setup for the thousands of children who need service. Most of all, we want to hear success stories from people who are out having a great time and enjoying our products.
Early signs of success
Participant’s products fill a wide gap between cheap, low quality wheelchairs and sophisticated products targeted to well funded health systems. Our best value for money position is well received by leading NGOs as well as global and national distributors. Cub won the Audience Choice Award at the 2021 Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America conference and Participant won a spot in the 2022 cohort of the Remarkable Accelerator, the world’s preeminent business accelerator for companies serving people with disabilities.
Participant is on a mission to democratize high quality assistive products so that none are left behind.
Freedom to take part
We believe freedom is a basic human right that belongs to everyone. We empower our team to work autonomously and have the freedom to create and lead. We are not restricted by where we live, our background, our gender, or our ability. At Participant, we empower our team with the freedom we deliver for our product users.
Give all we can
Our humble intention is to make the world better and more inclusive for the people we serve. As a B Corp, we’re committed to building a for-purpose organization that delivers world-class products that are as good for our customers as they are for the planet. We dare to challenge the status quo, and we give all we can to find solutions to overcome the obstacles that get in the way.
Working together delivers results
Creativity that inspires smart action and results is what we refer to as CreAction and we live by this way of working. We co-create with our users to deeply understand their every need and want. We know that to effectively collaborate, we must have mutual respect and appreciation.
We have fun!
We strive to create a fun, affirming, and informal work environment that encourages meaningful interactions, good times, collaborative approaches and a cohesive team that delivers results for our clients.
A force for good.
Benefit Corporations, or B Corps, have an immutable commitment to make a positive impact across their workers, customers, product users, suppliers, community, and the environment. Participant is a proud B Corp (pending) organization, committed to meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Being a B Corp means:
Our products are evaluated by outside experts to check compliance with international quality standards and with stringent voluntary standards which are indicated for our users’ environments.
We monitor and report the actual efficacy of our products. Our participants tell us if we are succeeding!
Our management is evaluated by our board using environmental and social metrics - as are all employees.
All products have lifecycle impact assessments. We do not do ‘planned obsolescence’.
All employees are owners regardless of where they live.
- 5% of our profits are donated to our non-profit partners so they can serve more people.
We are experienced industry veterans. Between the founders, we’ve designed 200 assistive products,
served thousands wheelchair users in over 20 countries, and have a combined 10 decades
of experience serving people with disabilities.
Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder
Keoke’s first encounter with disability was while being cared for by his grandmother. Her assistive products, a cane and a rudimentary wheelchair, were bulky and did not function well for her daily activities, especially outdoors. To design projects, Keoke brings a user-centered approach and attention to affordability. He loves to find market-based, scalable solutions that serve basic needs and his career in international development has taken him to seventeen countries for roles in marketing, supply chain, product development, and sales. In his last role, Director of Social Enterprises at UCP Wheels for Humanity, he launched CLASP, which is a supply chain solution designed to improve the access and affordability of appropriate assistive products globally. Previously, Keoke was Marketing Director at Whirlwind Wheelchair after his MBA studies at San Francisco State University. Keoke lives in San Francisco with his wife, Chris
Product Developer, Co-Founder
Wayne grew up in Montana and currently lives in Bozeman, Montana with his wife Lee Ann. Nearby are Wayne’s two children and five grandchildren. Wayne loves developing and delivering innovative products for children with disabilities to help them reach their greatest potential. Wayne and his wife co-founded their first wheelchair company, Kid-Kart Cares About Kids in 1990. Kid-Kart was a pioneer in providing freedom of mobility and therapeutic support for children with disabilities during their formative years from age one to age five. Wayne has since developed numerous products that serve children and adults with disabilities worldwide, including innovative dynamic seating systems that provide freedom of movement for children in their wheelchair. Wayne is the co-founder and currently the Executive Director of Reach Out and Care (ROC Wheels), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing seating and mobility products for people with disabilities in less resourced countries. Wayne has joined Participant because he believes in doing everything he can to help mobilize people with disabilities throughout the world.
Chief Clinical Officer, Co-Founder
Dave Calver is a Canadian Occupational Therapist who has dedicated his career to working with wheelchair seating and in wheelchair development in less resourced countries. He is a wheelchair user who participates in a great variety of outdoor sports and enjoys introducing other individuals to the outdoors, particularly fellow wheelchair users. He has been living and working overseas for more than 25 years and currently calls Nicaragua home.
Chief of Design and Innovation, Co-Founder
Ryota is one of the leading wheelchair designers in the world. He has developed over 130 wheelchairs from quick court chairs for basketball, to skate-park big jump chairs with suspension, to stylish daily use chairs, and some of the most robust chairs available today. He weaves simplicity and user understanding into designs. And, he has a knack for achieving a balance between high performance, user satisfaction, and low unit production cost. He enjoys bicycling and craft beers of all kinds. We have Yoda on our team!
Greg brings rigorous finance and accounting standards to Participant's books. As a CPA, he is building a career in medical devices and life sciences companies, including Bolt Threads in the SF Bay Area. Building the finance systems of scrappy startups into well oiled machines is his forte. "Human health and wellbeing are pillars of any great society. In my day to day, we push forward the leading edge of new health technology. It is satisfying to me to work with Participant to also bring underserved and vulnerable people forward toward good life and inclusion."
Mark’s background includes wealth management, institutional trading, and co-managing a hedge fund. He has been active in finance both on the advisory side and as an angel investor in numerous companies over the past 35 years. Mark holds a B.S. in Genetics from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.B.A. , awarded with honors, from the Graduate School of Economics and Business Administration at Saint Mary’s College. Additionally, he completed a Certificate in Accounting for Financial and Business Analysts, awarded with distinction, from the extension program at the University of California, Berkeley.
The struggle for disability rights and equality has taken Ralf far off the beaten path. "I was recognized with the MacArthur Genius Award for advancing independent living for wheelchair users by localizing wheelchair manufacturer. At the time, in 25 locations, now they have replicated and we've lost count." Ralf is co-founder of Whirlwind Wheelchair and lives in Oakland with his family. "Participant is carrying forward a vision for inclusion for all that is both self-evident and disruptive."
Lal Ninan, Ph.D., is an experienced technical and regulatory professional with over 16 years of experience in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry. An engineer by training, he is passionate about enabling life science businesses develop global products that heal and restore health and quality of life in an affordable manner. Lal is excited to join the advisory board and contribute to realizing Participant’s vision of providing quality assistive products to disabled children worldwide.
We’re on a mission to make change happen.
Join us on our mission to radically change the accessibility
and delivery of mobility products so that people can participate more in life.