Jan. 11, 2021

Affordable Robotics for Accessibility with Harout Markarian

Affordable Robotics for Accessibility with Harout Markarian

Affordable Robotics for Accessibility with Harout Markarian


In our first episode of 2021, we start off with a fantastic conversation with entrepreneur Harout Markarian. Harout is an author as well as the founder and CEO of Markarian Robotics. Mai Ling chats with him about his vision for creating efficient and affordable products for the mobility challenged using robotics. Harout’s goal is to make life accessible for all through this new company and he’s sharing this message via his book and podcast too.

Contact Mai Ling: MLC at mailingchan.com

Contact Martyn: Martyn at martynsibley.com

 

Transcript

 

Introduction 00:00

That's kind of like efficient and affordable, you know, serves a purpose, making them more independent, be more comfortable with the product, and they can afford it easily. That's the thing I'm focusing on.

 

Mai Ling 00:16

Welcome to exceptional leaders with Mai Ling and Martin, where we give you front row access to intimate conversations that are shaping the way the world is supporting people with disabilities. If it's happening, it's being shared here. I'm Mai Ling

 

Martyn 00:29

And I am Martyn Sibley. And today we're going to be talking about Harout Markarian (https://www.markarianrobotics.com/) and his interesting story. But before we get to that, we have to acknowledge it's January 2021. So Happy New Year Mai Ling.

 

Mai Ling 00:41

Yes, Happy New Year, although you got there a little bit before I did.

 

Martyn 00:44

Hehehehe. The wonders of the spinning globe situation, right. And we're always navigating those time zones with our scheduling. But we've, we've been acing it so far. And it's good to be back after a break. How was your holiday period?

 

Mai Ling 00:59

Just wonderful. And we did zoom 100% for Christmas. So, we had all of my family on zoom. And then for New Year's, we did zoom with just a couple of friends. But the same people that we actually celebrated with in person last year. So that was really cool. It was like part two, you know, and we also celebrated early so I was on pacific time. So, I got to celebrate with New York at my nine o'clock there midnight. So, we didn't really stay up till midnight.

 

Martyn 01:22

No, I said, Are you feeling good about 2021? With all the crazy timings we've had? Absolutely, yeah, this is, um, it's all it's a new day.

 

Mai Ling 01:30

How about you, Martyn?

 

Martyn 01:32

Yeah, good. You know what I actually really rested. Like, I actually switched off. I think, previous holiday periods and new year, I was still very much cheering over how to crack the code, you know, with the whole business stuff that I've been involved in. Whereas I think because Purple Goat (http://purplegoatagency.com/) has been doing so well and obviously our podcast has been flying, it was a kind of that the strategy and the thinking was more in hand. And I just needed to refuel and switch off and just have some time out. So yeah, I've come back full of fresh ideas and fresh energy, and really looking forward to the year ahead. Obviously, we have Purple Goat, we're going to build on the foundation, but I've set myself a target of 1 million. And it's a bit of an arbitrary number. But I've sort of put it out there publicly to hold myself accountable. So, that's just going to be exciting watching that business grow. And with Horizons it's been amazing, empowering Liz, who was our editor who is now CEO. So, there's a real change of dynamic of some of my businesses. And now with Horizons, there's big plans to grow the magazine and grow the shop. But it won't be me hands on. It's me letting go and letting other people step up to the plate. So yeah, some big professional business goals, to be honest. And how about you? Have you got any kind of business or professional goals?

 

Mai Ling 02:58

Yes, and I love what you're saying. A lot of us as startups and entrepreneurs, you know, we just keep thinking that we're the only ones there, we're the only ones that's doing the grind. But it's so important when you really allow other people to shine, especially when it's an area that they love. So yeah, this year, I've got a bunch of things going on. Right now, with Cognixion (https://www.cognixion.com), we are getting ready to bring forward the brain computer interface and augmented reality technology for AAC which is augmentative. and alternative communication. So exciting. And I'll be the first one in its division, where we're actually using this BCI, this brain computer interface specifically for communication. So, it's so exciting, we're really seeing things, you know, come together. I'm also working on really tying up our second book, which is Becoming an Exceptional Augmentative and Alternative Communication Leader, which is just Becoming an Exceptional AAC Leader(https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Exceptional-AAC-Leader-Communication/dp/0578737701). And that's, you know, right in the space of where I am right now, Martyn, and I'm connecting with all of these just amazing people in the AAC space. Definitely working through the holidays. Meaning that, you know, people that were supposed to have their writing done beforehand had to stretch it out a little bit longer. But that's totally fine. When you're, you know, you're waiting for the right people that it just all works out in the end. So, thank you for asking. I'm so excited about this year.

 

Martyn 04:10

Well, yeah, it's good to be back with the podcast so that we were having a few chats, haven't we over the last month about end of season two starting season three, what we looking forward to for the year ahead for the podcast? So, do you want to, share a couple of thoughts from your side on your hopes and aspirations for our show?

 

Mai Ling 04:28

Absolutely. One of the things I think that we've become really well known for is having high quality, high profile guest interviews. And that's something that Martyn and I really take to heart; we do a lot of research. I want to invite you as our listener to continue to reach out to us and send us your referrals, whether it's for yourself or someone else. We definitely read through everything and we only do two shows a month and so that really, you know, makes it much less so we have about 25 or 26 actual episodes per year. But really thank you so much because you know we can't be plugged in everywhere, although we tried to be, but it's through people like you, connecting us and introducing us that we are really finding the stories and the people that people want to hear from.

 

Martyn 05:11

Yeah, absolutely. 100% echo that, excited to meet new people. And obviously, there's sometimes we know the person personally. But it's still great to share their story through the podcast. Like either way, I'm excited for all the conversations that will be happening in in the year ahead. And also, yeah, just kind of echoing again, your sentiments of the listeners and getting involved. We really, really love you to like I follow on Facebook, Instagram. Also, we're now on xceptionalleaders.com, where you can sign up for our mailing list, which is really exciting that's going to be developing in the coming weeks and months ahead. And there'll be definitely some special events and discounts as they happen. We'll be sharing with you and obviously just keeping you updated on the podcast news. So please do head over to xceptionalleaders.com and sign up there. And yeah, just keep giving your comments, your ideas, you know, maybe refer friends that you think we should be interviewing and just most of all, we just want to hear what you enjoy and what works for you say, a big thanks from me for your involvement in the podcast last year as well. So, moving on to our guest today. This was your interview Mai Ling. Really interesting guy. I love the fact that he was born in Lebanon and then came to America there was some of that moving around the world vibe going on. The robotic stuff was really cool. Fellow was a fellow podcaster but like for you, what did you find really interesting about him?

 

Mai Ling 06:47

You know, he is he's so well rounded. And he speaks so well. He even says that English is not his first language, I think it was it's like fourth or something like that. And I love that, you know, just so intrigued by people who bring all of their talents Martyn. And then, you know, think about language. I'm obviously I'm a language expert. So, I love this piece of it. But this is not his first second third language and he's doing a podcast and writing a book and, you know, just so many things on top of putting his profession and his interest and you know, meaning the robotics, putting that into the forefront of what he's doing in terms of helping people with disabilities. So, I was it was one of those interviews, I felt like I was on the edge of my seat, you know, just couldn't get that next question in soon enough. So, it was really exciting for me. And again, I say this to people, I met him through a person that I met outside of my profession. So, Dr. Shellie Hipsky (https://inspiringlivesinternational.com/), we met through somebody that somebody knew, she was in my profession, definitely. But you've got to keep connecting. And you know, I hate to use that word networking, but just connect you just never know, you know?

 

Martyn 07:48

Yeah, I agree the power of networking. And just again, we're, we're so agreeable with each other Mai Ling. It's ridiculous. But just to echo what you were saying that, the way of that the technology side, so the robotics but also as a podcast at the end of the day, you know, the way we're doing our show, the way he does podcast, it's all technology. And I'm just fascinated how tech social, the social media, which leans in, to your point about networking, how those two intersections with disability and inclusion is just so empowering and powerful. So, I think we've created enough tension, enough mystery, and I think it's time to get into the show and then the interview, and we hope you will enjoy it, listeners.

 

Mai Ling 08:34

Let's do it. All right, well, I am so excited to be here for our first episode for 2021 with Harout Markarian. I met him through the now famous Dr. Shellie Hipsky, she has helped so many people. And if you've listened to any of my episodes, you know that she's introduced me to a number of my most amazing guests. And who also followed me into creating our first book, which is the Becoming an Exceptional Leaders book, with the first in the series. So welcome Harout, thank you so much for joining me.

 

Harout 09:07

Thank you for having me, Mai Ling. I appreciate your time and your efforts of making this possible.

 

Mai Ling 09:14

Well, I'm excited because this is one podcaster to another. So, you have a podcast also. Right?

 

Harout 09:19

That is correct. I also have a podcast. It's called Mobility and Inclusion (https://www.markarianrobotics.com/mobility-inclusion).

 

Mai Ling 09:23

Excellent. And when Dr. Shellie Hipsky connected us, I always trust that she already knows that it will be a good fit for us for you know, for our show. But I know when we met initially, I was like, Oh, yes. Now I see it. This is wonderful. I wanted to start with you just talked about mobility and inclusion. And then another key word that I think of when I think of you is robotics. So, can you give us a little bit of your history and how you got involved in this space?

 

Harout 09:50

Absolutely. So, I'm a first-generation graduate in my family. I'm originally from Lebanon. And when I moved here, I was pursuing in mechanical engineering as a degree, I moved to the United States. And all of a sudden, I found myself in this position where all the work that I've done before moving kind of like got wiped out. So, I had to restart, which at the time was a bit frustrating. But you know, I didn't just give up, I knew this is something I do. So, I kept pursuing my mechanical engineering degree, finished it. And during my senior year, I met my advisor, Dr. the late. Dr. C.T.Lin. And he got me involved with robotics with how and how robotics can help people with disabilities. He was at the time he was working on a brain activated wheelchair. And I saw them I saw a bunch of graduate students testing this brain activated wheelchair with a person with a disability on the chair. And it's amazing. When I saw that, I'm like, Wow, that's so cool. I want to be, you know, involved in that project. So, you know, I pursued my Master's in robotics. So, I continued that I had my, actually my thesis, I published a thesis at the time. And I came up with a climbing wheelchair for people with disabilities where I built the scale prototype and the different pieces. And you can I think, the publication you can find it in Cal State Northridge's library.

 

Mai Ling 11:20

Did you say a climbing wheelchair?

 

Harout 11:22

A climbing wheelchair. Yes. So

 

Mai Ling 11:24

What is that? Ok. I never heard of this.

 

Harout 11:27

There's actually, a climbing old chair have been around for a long time since the 50s, probably, but they've never made it to the market. Because a lot of the time it's, it's too expensive, right. And there's not a lot of people that can afford that. The one example would be the iBot, they came up with a very successful climbing wheelchair at the time, this was I think in, maybe five six seven years ago, but that quickly went off market because the price tag was too expensive. And, you know, being you know, founding a company, myself, and one of my goals to be being the affordability of the product that you can offer for people with disabilities. And I want to mention here that, and this is through studying and research, a lot of the World Health type of work World Health Organization, nations, there's the CDC measures, there's people with disabilities,  statistically don't have the same income as able bodied people. I don't know what the what the what the reasons for that is. But that's, that's a different story. And I think this is where inclusion comes into the play, right? When we talk about the income gap. Yeah, so I designed the climbing wheelchair, I came up with a new design, I studied a lot of other designs before. So, this, this chair would take you up and down the stairs safely. And it was inspired by a four-legged mechanism. And as I said, I built the scale prototype and defended my thesis at the time. And that's how I have been building my robotics.

 

Mai Ling 13:02

Now I know what you're talking about, I've definitely seen them in movies where you sit at the bottom, and then it goes up. But you know, I'm so sorry. So, when I was hearing robotics, and climbing on my mind was going into like climbing mountains and that type of thing. So, I didn't know that that's what it was called. So, thank you so much. And thank you for being in that space. You also mentioned brain activated wheelchair and that's the space of brain computer interface, right? That's what I do. Over at Cognixion, we are in the process of creating a BCI and augmented reality headset that will be able to access AAC. So augmentative communication. And that's just so exciting. I love all of this high-tech opportunity that are going on. So, thank you for sharing all of that and catching us up. I know that you're also involved in a couple new things. One is a book. Can you share that with us?

 

Harout 13:50

Yes. So, on November one, I think I published my first book. It's called mobility and inclusion. And I worked on this book, primarily with Vince Staskel(https://www.markarianrobotics.com/mobility-inclusion/vincestaskel). I think you know, Vince, I think right?

 

Mai Ling 14:05

Yes. He's a former guest and I love him. Yes,

 

Harout 14:07

Yeah. Vince has been a crucial part of Markarian robotics, crucial part of my journey in entrepreneurship in this space. When I started the company, and I went and I said, I wanted to help people with disabilities through technology. I knew nothing about the community of people with disabilities. And I don't want to be perceived as someone telling people with disabilities how to do things, you know. So, I got in touch with Vince Staskel and Eileen Grubba.

 

Mai Ling 14:35

Love her. Yes.

 

Harout 14:36

Them two have been very crucial members in my life. They have been like mentors to me. Vince kind of gave me a crash course on the community of people with disabilities. And it's been a very successful partnership. So, when I was writing the book, I bugged Vince constantly I I finished a chapter and I would send it to him, hey, what do you think about this? Is there an expression that I'm not getting it right? So, Vince would read it and give me his opinion, feedback. And that's how the book got done. And I touched upon a lot of interesting ideas in the book, like what independence look like for people with disabilities? What is accessibility, and how assistive technology can help people with disabilities? What has robotics have to offer in terms of helping people with disabilities? I talked about universal design. And people don't know that our environment, our built environment is not universal design. It's only designed for people for able bodied people, right? It's not designed, it's not designed for everybody. So, I thought I'd touch on the universal design, I touch on representation and media, entertainment, and advertising. There's a lot of controversy there. Well it's not controversy, it's actually true. And it's not, it's not being surfaced, like the issue is not being surfaced enough, in my opinion. And, and that chapter, in the representation. In media chapter, I talked about my interview with Eileen and what, what she, so her story is on there, then chapter seven, I talk about inclusion. And what inclusion should be like, should look like. And finally, chapter eight, I talk about mindset to overcome challenges. And this can be for everyone, not just people with disabilities. And this book actually is for everyone. It's not just for people with disabilities, everyone should get to know the community of people with disabilities and how to interact with each other, how to partner up with them, and why it makes a great business sense to do so.

 

Mai Ling 16:47

Absolutely. That's why we need more people like yourself, showing this leadership and sharing this information. You mentioned, Eileen Grubba, she is an absolute leader in the space of like you were saying, advertising by media, you know, getting people into movies, into shows into plays all of that. And it has nothing to do with their disability. So, the focus is on the person and their acting ability. And that's where she has just really taken the torch and been the leader in that space. She also did the foreword for my book, becoming an exceptional leader. And you know her words, I'm sure that your interview with her also that's on your podcast that we're referring to.

 

Harout 17:23

That is correct.

 

Mai Ling 17:25

So, you can listen to her through there. And you can also listen on my podcast, just listening to her speak about these ideas. And the way that we should have been looking at media, and information in TV is a no brainer. But you know, it's something that has been years in the making, and educating people and continuing to layer that information. Right. So, thank you so much, Harout. I love the approach. And I love that it's really comprehensive. Because when you said mobility and inclusion, sometimes it's so technical, you know, talking about positioning, and you know, what the actual engineering of it is, and technology. So, it sounds like you did a very comprehensive approach.

 

Harout 18:03

Oh, absolutely. A lot of people because they know me, they know my, my technical background, and that I'm an engineer, they think that oh, this is going to be a technical book. And it's actually not it's meant for everyone to easily grab it and read it. It's written in the way I'm talking to you really; I mean, English is my fourth language. So, I'm not that.

 

Mai Ling 18:26

Impressive.

 

Harout 18:28

So, you know, I can, I'm not a Shakespeare, but I tried to do, tried to deliver this book in a way that, you know, everyone can pick up and read. It's an easy read. It's a small book. And it's very comprehensive, as you said,

 

Mai Ling 18:41

Excellent. So where can we get this book,

 

Harout 18:43

It's you can find on Amazon, if you search for mobility and inclusion (https://www.amazon.com/Mobility-Inclusion-accessible-inclusive-world/dp/1735838306), it'll pop up, it's a first or second down the list. But it should be there.

 

Mai Ling 18:53

Wonderful, wonderful. I love self-publishing, a lot of people have asked me about it, it's really intense. Because you are responsible for all the pieces, you know, you're not answering to a publisher who will already has all these drafts and you know, tells you how to do it. But I think at the end of the day, you just have such a deep connection to it to the actual product.

 

Harout 19:12

Absolutely. I did self-publish, as you mentioned, and there's a lot of facets to it. But if you find the right people and the and the right help, the opportunity is there, everyone can do it.

 

Mai Ling 19:24

Exactly. And more and more people are doing it. And so again, for our listeners, if you're interested in writing a book, you can definitely reach out to myself, Harout I'm sure it would be helpful with resources and then also Martyn Sibley has published books. So, you know, there's so many of us that are doing it that you don't have to kind of sign away all your rights, you know, to a large publishing house, right.

 

Mai Ling [Sponsor Ad] 19:46

I've always said the most valuable things I've ever done to increase my business and industry knowledge in the very specific niche of disabilities, was always related to learning from other people, whether it was going to conferences, introducing myself and connecting directly with LinkedIn messages, or asking people for a warm referral. Hearing other people's stories and finding pearls of wisdom has been a priceless part of my journey and ultimately, my success with various offerings is directly related to these. That's definitely why I created this podcast for you, and also why 13 other amazing disability leaders and previous podcast guests join me to write a book for you. For less than $15 you can get intimate stories and priceless startup journeys from 14 exceptional disability leaders, including my cohost of this podcast, Martyn Sibley. So, I invite you to go to Amazon, search for Becoming an Exceptional Leader and get this book today.

 

Martyn 20:39

Here is another great podcast serving the disability industry that you might enjoy.

 

Harout Markanian Podcast Introduction 20:51

Hi, I'm Harout Markarian. And this is Mobility and Inclusion (https://www.markarianrobotics.com/mobility-inclusion), the show where we share the powerful stories of people with disabilities and daring entrepreneurs making waves in our world. From technological innovations to best practices in business, we'll learn what it really means to live in an inclusive and universally designed environment.

 

Mai Ling 21:16

Now, let's get back to our amazing interview. Okay, so tell me about this new collaborative platform that you're working on.

 

Harout 21:23

One of the people I was interviewing, his name is Eric Anderson (https://www.markarianrobotics.com/mobility-inclusion/quadriplegic-author-eric-anderson). And Eric used to be an able-bodied person till he was in his early 20s when he got injured. And now it's been maybe 20 years. He's been using the wheelchair. So, he broke his neck. And I interviewed him and from the interview the other day, he emailed me, said, Hey, dude, look, I got a I got this great idea. I think it'll help a lot of people with disabilities, a lot of people using wheelchairs. I'm like, Yeah, sure. I'm always open to hear. And that's part of my, my goal. Like, as I said, I don't want to dictate on what I should bring to this community of people with disabilities, I want the motion to come from them. You know, it's because I'm not a person with a disability. Yes, I have family members that are challenged in one way or another. But, you know, I can't, I can't say that, oh, I think this is the right product for them. No, I want that to come from the person itself. So, when Eric messaged me, I said, We jumped on a zoom call, a quick zoom call, he said, look, I think this would be a great product. And the product is a mobile platform, with robotic arm, that will, you know, go and get your stuff, let's say you dropped your phone, and you're on the wheelchair, he said many times he fell, trying to grab something that he dropped from his lap or when he's carrying. And in order for this not to have happened, you can create a mobile platform attached to the robotic arm that can go around and grab stuff, things from the ground, and, you know, take it take it to you, you know, high enough so you can reach it and grab it. So that's something I'm working on right now with him, we're kind of doing a survey to see how much interest there is in this. And that will be fairly, I mean, relatively cheap product that we can offer. And everyone can be able to afford it without going through insurance and all that hassle. So yeah, that's something I'm focusing on right now a bigger project I have, this has something to do with the BCI. Well, not necessarily with BCI, but more like autonomous wheelchair type of thing. Hopefully, we collaborate with airports and institutions of the sort that will buy these autonomous wheelchairs, and people with mobility challenges, whether they're elderly, or people with cerebral palsy, or whatever we think, can, you know, go to the airport, maybe there will be an app, you know, request that request the chair, the chair would come to them and take them to the terminal that they are going to travel from. So that's a that's a bigger project, a lot of facets in there too, or hurdles to jump over. But mostly, these are the two kind of like prevailing projects that I'm working on. Right.

 

Mai Ling 24:21

I love this. So, what is your brain like? Or do you constantly have these new ideas? And you kind of have to be like, okay, you know, I have to hold on that for a little while,

 

Harout 24:28

While I'm constantly have new ideas, but I'm not the one who's holding my brain. I have my colleague, Mike. Every time I pitch it to him, he's like, Well, let's think about this. He's the one. He's the one who kind of like, holds me back a little. But

 

Mai Ling 24:31

You got to have somebody who does that. Like your realist, who is Mike to you.

 

Harout 24:51

So, Mike, I met I met Mike during my MBA program, so I also have an MBA degree from Pepperdine University. I met him through there, so He's now marketing director at my company. But I don't see him as a marketing director, Mike is my good friend, you know. So, everything we do is the it's a partnership. And Mike is a veteran. So, and he's in law enforcement. So, he has a lot of friends who are wounded warriors. He also has a nonprofit that helps wounded veterans.

 

Mai Ling 25:25

Wow.

 

Harout 25:25

So, you know, I thought, when I pitched that idea to Mike, if he wanted to be part of this startup that I'm doing, he was, he didn't even hesitate. I didn't even offer him anything at the time. You know?

 

Mai Ling 25:38

Yes,

 

Harout 25:39

You're gonna work for free. You know. So yeah, he's a, he's been very supportive, very helpful in a lot of ways. So, you know, it's a collaboration partnership that we're, you know, driving this company forward.

 

Mai Ling 25:54

I love that. And that's what a lot of our grassroots types of startups are, you know, it starts with one person's idea. And then you start pulling these other people that have been in your lives for years, or, you know, you've been warmly and reintroduced to, that's what I've always seen, especially with the disability community, you know, and it's, it's such a tight knit community, I love that you and I know, you know, some of the same people that happens to me all the time in this space. I do meetings with Cognixion. I do you know, my podcast I have X Ed, and then there's always overlap. And it's just wonderful. And everyone is so helpful, right? It's like this. This is great. How can I help you? Who can I introduce you to?

 

Harout 26:32

Yeah, absolutely. Actually, Mike introduced me to Eileen. And Eileen introduced me to Vince. And Vince introduced me to Dr. Shellie Hipsky. So

 

Mai Ling 26:42

There you go. See, this is wonderful. And for our listener, I tell you all the time, I stalk my guests in a funny way, I'll see beautiful posts on Facebook or something on LinkedIn, and I'll reach out and be like, Look, we need to meet you know, and, and so most of the time, this is how I made my best connections and friendships, you know, I've stayed in touch with people for years. It's wonderful to see people like yourself growing not only your products, but also in content creation, you know, having the book and then future products. You've said this a couple times, I really want to hone on these words efficient and affordable. Can you expand on that a little bit? Like, I don't know if many people come to this industry understanding that at the beginning. So how long did that take you to really understand that, yeah, I want to create this, but it's really hard to put it in somebody's actual hands.

 

Harout 27:28

So, my mentality is of the sort that I'm not out here to compete with other startups or other companies that are already creating a lot of good products for a community of people with disabilities that they absolutely need. But, you know, capital wise, I can't already compete with them, you know, because I don't have that major capital to compete with, let's say, fortune 500 companies, right? I am of the mind that, you know, I'm a creator, and the creator does not worry his mind with, this guy is doing this, I should do this better and better price. No. So that's why when I when I founded the company, I had no clue what product I'm going to go to market with. To this day. I don't have a product that I can go to market with. But I did a lot of research. So, I went to expositions I went to, like the Abilities Expo for example right, I went to that, you know, and I'm seeing all the stuff. And, you know, there was this one company selling a manual wheelchair, a very light and durable manual wheelchair. And the manual wheelchair cost, like $5,000. I'm like, okay, you know, yeah, it's cool. It's very lightweight. But, you know, $5,000 for a manual wheelchair, that seemed odd to me, you know. And that's why well, that's what I mean, when I say affordable. And when I read the statistics that the income gap between people with disabilities and able-bodied person, right, that's another aspect that, Okay, I need to take this into consideration. If I'm going to go to market with a product, the product needs to be affordable. And I don't want to deal with insurance either. Maybe at one point, you know, I'm going to have to, that's a different story. That's, that's probably typical down the road. But right now, I want to offer something to people with disabilities, something that can benefit them something that can make them more independent, and they don't have to pay an arm and a leg for that. So, I'm thinking how I can do that. You know, I'm not out here thinking, Oh, I'm gonna make another wheelchair, cut the price down by $50 then see what happens. No, that's kind of like, efficient, and affordable, you know, serves a purpose, making them more independent, right? Be more comfortable with the product, and they can afford it easily. That's the thing I'm focusing on.

 

Mai Ling 29:56

Excellent. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story. This is just a great way to kick off the new year. How do we stay in touch with you this year?

 

Harout 30:05

You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn on Markarian robotics. haroutm@markbotix.com is my email and markbotix is spelled, "B O I" "B O T I X”.

 

Mai Ling 30:21

Yes, That's a good one. And how do you spell your first name?

 

Harout 30:25

"H A R O U T", like, Tom,

 

Mai Ling 30:29

Awesome, because, you know, some of our friends are listening, and they're listening in the car or, you know, so I always like to give them all the information.

 

Harout 30:36

Absolutely, yes. And yeah, and the, my website is Markarianrobotics.com. I have the episodes of my podcast episodes there. I do blogs when I can. And you can buy the book from there as well. You know, there's a direct link to Amazon, so, and a lot of my latest adventures out there.

 

Mai Ling 30:55

Excellent. Wonderful. Well again, thank you so much for joining us. And we'll be watching for all the great things that you're doing this year.

 

Harout 31:01

Thank you, Mai Ling. Thank you for the time. And I appreciate you very much.

 

Mai Ling 31:07

It was my absolute pleasure. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode, and I invite you to connect with me directly at mailingchan.com. We also want you to let us know what you think about the show, ideas and how we can continue to help you or referrals to a great guest through our Facebook group at Exceptional Leaders Podcast or email us at xleaderspodcast@gmail.com

 

Martyn 31:28

Yes, Mai Ling I totally agree to that I know we're both really mission driven people. And for me, it's always been this big mission to have a world that's fully inclusive for all people. And in the end, that's probably why we've bonded and come together, so well on this podcast, exceptional leaders podcast (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/xceptional-leaders-with-mai-ling-chan-martyn-sibley/id1435433350), because we get to meet cool people, give them a platform to share their story and really just make such an impact in the disability world. I love it. Also, for everyone listening please do head over to disabilityhorizons.com. This is the magazine that I co-founded about 10 years ago and we've got a free mailing list there for all the latest article news and discounts for the shop if that's your kind of thing. And definitely, definitely do get your copy of the Becoming an Exceptional Leader book. We want you to get as much information as you need and to be as successful as you can be.

Harout Markarian

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Harout currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from California State University Northridge with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in robotics. He also has an MBA from Pepperdine University.

Harout Markarian had a lot of different career paths to choose from. He was a dancer, who became a professional basketball player, who now is a seasoned aerospace engineer. His passion is contagious. No matter what he is working on, he always gives it his best. His motivation is unmatched, and he is a lifelong learner.

After his grandparents became totally dependent on family members and caregivers to perform daily living activities, Harout established Markarian Robotics in 2018 to provide mobility challenged individuals an additional level of independence through efficient and affordable assistive technology. He thought there must be a better way to serve this community.

Harout also established a video podcast called Mobility and Inclusion, where he hosts guests and talks about challenges and opportunities for people with disabilities and how to build a better inclusive environment.

Harout’s vision is to collaborate with thought leaders and people with disabilities worldwide to make a massive difference in their lives and build an environment and products that center around universal design.