Sustaining Your Business Despite Adversity with Josh Wintersgill
We’re joined today by entrepreneur, Josh Wintersgill. He is the founder of Able Move and creator of the easyTravelseat, an amazing product which makes it easier for wheelchair users to move from their chair to airline seats. Josh shares with Martyn about some of the highs and lows since launching his business, he talks about pivoting and diversification in product offerings, and how the pandemic has pushed his team to innovate.
Contact Mai Ling: MLC at mailingchan.com
Contact Martyn: Martyn at martynsibley.com
I think as an entrepreneur, you need to always remember that you can't do everything. And you look at what areas of specialty you need to specialize in. And if you don't know it, you need to go and find somebody to help you, which is why businesses have partners.
Welcome to Xceptional Leaders, with Mai Ling and Martyn, 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 said here. I'm Martyn Sibley.
Mai Ling 00:34
And I'm Mai Ling Chan and I am so excited to be talking about Josh Wintersgill (https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshua-wintersgill-bsc-msc-technology-b05aa858/?originalSubdomain=uk) and his amazing creation for just getting on an airplane. This is, this is such a great interview, Martyn.
Yeah, that's it. As we mentioned before Mai Ling, I've known Josh, and it comes out in the interview as well, sort of two or three years. And it was just really nice, yeah, looking back on how we first met, he had this idea from personal experience, wanted to be entrepreneurial, and start a business, how we had to go through the product development and manufacture it. And it's just a real entrepreneurial journey. And I'm very proud actually, of knowing Josh and seeing his journey sort of flourish the last two or three years and all his accomplishments, but I think it also, you know, more broadly for the listeners it there's a lot of value in that kind of the entrepreneurial journey, but be great to get your thoughts on it as well.
Mai Ling 01:30
Absolutely, I have to say, I love that you know him through all of this, because, you know, you are personally connected to, you know, the success of course, but you know, you, you know, the challenges and things he's gone through. I've also had that opportunity with friends who have come to me over the years, you know, Mai, what do you think about this, and it's been great to be like, at the table with the napkins, you know, talking about it, and then just supporting them, you know, and constantly being able to be that touchstone, giving them resources when you can, and also being there through the challenging times. It's always easier, Martyn, when you're like, you know, the 50-foot view, you're not involved, you're not emotionally attached. And so, you know, you're like, okay, it's not that big a deal. This is going to be okay, right, but when you're in it, it's like your whole world is crumbling.
Yeah, for sure. It comes out in the book we did with all the other amazing authors as well, it's just that there's times you want to give up, we don't want to give up at you feeling like this, just everything's difficult and you're tired and some things don't go the way you hope and yeah, it just shows you stick out, you stay persistent and consistent and good things come once you keep, keep at it, really. But um, before we get into the, at the interview, and all the good stuff with Josh, it will be great to hear how you're doing Mai Ling. I mean, we're all sort of at the end of January, getting into February, you know, still going through the pandemic, but like, how have you been? Have you gotten the news and any general thoughts on how the world, how the world is at the moment?
Mai Ling 02:58
Thank you, Martyn. Yeah, politically, you know, things are changing in the US. So, we're getting ready for that. I had my first vaccination couple weeks ago, and next week, I'll be going for my second. And I can't help but feel this like relief inside but also hesitation. So, you know, like, what does this mean? How, how safe am I really, you know, how do I handle being around my parents? Just so many things that are still up in the air, but at least we're moving forward. And that's what I feel like is, there's progress.
Yeah. So, there's, there's I think this year may still have more unknowns and uncertainty than we have all hoped and was like, 2021, it's gonna be so much better and different. I think it will get better. I think things will improve, the more the year goes on, I think summer will be a bit easier. Like even last summer, during the craziness of the onset of COVID, there was still, you know, we're where I live, we've got a garden, and it's just easier to get out and, you know, enjoy a bit more fresh air. So yeah, I think there'll be, I am optimistic things will pick up, but I think it won't happen as immediately and as quickly as we'd like it to as well.
Mai Ling 04:04
So true. Now, I know that you've had some real highlights this week as I saw your Facebook Live. So, tell me what is going on with Purple Goat (http://purplegoatagency.com/)?
Yeah, well just very quick recap for anyone that hasn't picked up on previous episodes, started this social influencer marketing agency, very much around helping brands connect with the disability market, disability community. And I've you know, early days, but I was saying with Josh, it was hard going in, you're having all these conversations with potential clients, but we're new. It's a new industry. It was very, it was hard, basically. And then we picked up you know, some more clients and the value of the contracts got a bit bigger and bigger. Got some testimonials and things picked up really well at the end of last year. But yeah, we got a deal in, that's longer term one and its sort of the biggest value of deal that I've ever on a personal level. I've that I've done. But obviously, it's very much a we, there's a team around me and yeah, we're just chuffed that we're smashing through these barriers. We've separately got another client. That's a very big brand in the UK. So yeah, January has been good on the business front.
Mai Ling 05:16
Excellent. So, so happy for you. And I invite our listeners to follow Martyn Sibley on Facebook and Instagram. He does some fabulous lives. And it's just a great way to connect with what's going on in his world, but also what's going on in the larger world of disabilities.
Thank you, Mai Ling, and talking of inviting our listeners to engage. We've done a few shoutouts in previous episodes around sort of social media and following and liking and engaging on the, to the Facebook side alive. But today, we've got a different but similar shout out. Do you want to ask the listeners how to get involved Mai Ling?
Mai Ling 05:51
Yes. So, I was so blessed when I first started the podcast back in September of 2018, where all of my family and friends and definitely my mom, like a billion times went on to Apple podcasts and gave us fantastic reviews. But now we need to refresh that. So, we're just asking if you have a minute, if you could go in and just pop a little love for us, that would be wonderful. We definitely have a high five-star rating. But we really would love, just a quick, you know, what do you love about the show? Is there any way that we've helped you? Just a little love would be great. So, thanks so much in advance.
Yeah. And likewise, for me, we really appreciate, and I think there's that general, your thoughts on the podcast would be great. But also, if you've got ideas of, you know, ways we can take the show, we're always looking for feedback and input. And I think that brings us back to the Josh side of things with that imperative, obviously, we've talked a bit about the Facebook in previous episodes, but definitely get back involved with our Facebook and Instagram, head to Xceptionalleaders.com and sign up for our mailing list. All the usual shout out to be really great to see you there and engage with you there. When do, as I was saying, it's great to get that input late with Josh's episode that the more you know, any product or project or initiative has the input from the people that it benefits, the better it can innovate and serve. So yeah, I think otherwise, that's the end of intro. And let's get to today's interview with Josh.
Mai Ling 07:18
Let's do it.
Hi, everyone. Welcome to my first interview of 2021 on Xceptional Leaders podcast, and really excited to catch up with a good friend Josh Wintersgill. So good to see you again, Josh.
Hey, Martyn, welcoming 2021 first podcast for me, I feel quite privileged.
Well here, for everyone listening, you may detect a slight rapport that yeah, Josh and I have known each other for a little while now. So I thought just for the listeners sake, I kind of tee up how we met and why I think Josh's story and experience and knowledge is really valuable for you listeners in lots of different ways that will unfold in the following moments. So, I can't remember exact years now exactly how and when it all kicked off. But I know I was at Naidex (https://www.naidex.co.uk/#/) I'm gonna say four or five years ago, and Naidex’ s, Disabilities Expo (https://pushliving.com/united-kingdom-hosts-largest-disability-expo-in-world-march-28th/) is the sort of US equivalent for the US listeners, but it's basically exhibition around all things disability. We were at the stand at Disability Horizons (https://disabilityhorizons.com/) and remember you Josh coming over. And you know, you really sort of just excited to chat and say hi, but also had this idea, this business idea that was gonna make the big difference. And I'll let you tell that in a minute to the listeners. But it was a real sort of like, cool, you know, I really loved your energy. Nice guy, and I kind of wish you well. And within a year, the next year in Naidex, you've got like won an award, got funding, you've gone to market. And it was just a phenomenal, really quick rise to get in an idea executed and out there. And obviously, as you're again, share in, sure in a minute, you know, there were highs and lows and challenges and barriers. But it was a really amazing year just to see how quickly you got to go in. And then you've become a real player, you know, in the sort of travel space, the travel space, man, lots of good stuff going on. So yeah, just sort of for everyone to know. That's where we first met. We now hang out. We have poker nights and have a lot of good fun socially as well. But um, yeah. Josh, can you give the listeners just sort of founders’ story that what the idea is and the way it evolved in those first couple of years, please?
Sure. Firstly, I think four to five years, it's not quite that long. So I think it just goes to show how an impact we've obviously had on each other because it feels like we've known each other for such a while, but actually, I think I first met you in person was 2018 at Naidex. And then 2019 was when I had the stand, which was just after we got the funding and it’s kind of, I realize.
So, it's actually been two years, just coming in, not even two years. It's very strange that how it all kind of plays out. But in terms of the background and sort of what I do, I've always liked aviation, right? Nan used to take me to Bristol airport before the days of the terrorist attacks. And you can, use to better go and sit in the departure lounge without having to go through security and just watch planes fly in and out. And we used to go out there with a picnic, nice to sit in and watch planes go in and out. And then I'd, you know, I'd get really excited when Nan would wake me up at four o'clock in the morning saying you're off to Tenerife, for a holiday at like eight years old. And you're like, no way I got to get a, get a get a day off school and go flying somewhere nice and hot. And so, since I was young, I've always liked aviation and with the deterioration of my disability, which is the same as you Martyn, SMA, traveling has become harder. And I got to a point where in 2017, I was in Tenerife, and I was sort of reading a book, which I've covered off before, called Simon, Simon Sinek's book, Start with The Why. And it kind of got me thinking about the job that I was in as a cyber security manager, which was a very good job, and I enjoyed it. But it wasn't really necessarily driving me so much to get out of bed every morning. And this book kind of made me think about all the challenges that I faced and one of the biggest things that sprung to mind was air travel with a physical disability, and the challenges that faced and
Can we break? Some people will know that listen, my impairment disability is SMA, they may know what that entails, but just kind of briefly look not at the science medical side, but what does it mean practically for a normal day.
So, you know, normal day for me is sort of one on one to one and a half hours of care, personal care in the morning, getting dressed, you know, doing my teeth, washing my face, getting me in my chair and making breakfast getting me ready to work with an assistant, right, and then, you know, maybe half an hour at lunchtime, and then in the evening, you're looking at two hours to three hours of care, which you know, is food, bed, bath, wash, shower, exercise, dinner. So, you know, you're talking about four or five hours of care a day. And when you're trying to add that into a working day of being an entrepreneur, where entrepreneurs don't generally have a lot of app spare time in the day, you kind of think, holy crap, How is this even possible? But you kind of find a way. And I think, yeah, with the deterioration of the physical disability has made travel for me very, very difficult. And when I was in, when I was on holiday, we quickly put into Google, like a lifting device for aircraft for wheelchair users, and nothing came back. And I've always described it as it's like winning the lottery, but not winning the money, the odds are so slim. And so that's when I came back from the holiday and started up the business.
So, with those challenges at the aircraft, you know, we're both wheelchair users, but you can't get on an aircraft in your wheelchair. Right. So, there's a lot of being lifted and damaged the chair. So, I guess that was the difficulty in terms of air travel you were talking about?
Yeah, I think that was the main concern and the risks that are involved with air travel. And you know, that shouldn't be the case and what I've what I've learned in my journey, and it's, it's the same, you know, if you take somebody that doesn't have a physical disability, and you explain to them the problems you have with air travel, you don't know until, unless you're dealing with those people, you don't actually know what it's like, and it's with me, you know, since I've been working in aviation, I've now realized this whole world of the challenges that people with visual hearing impairments have and those with hidden disabilities, and it just opens your mind up to a whole new world. And now I'm going on this journey of not just helping people that have physical disabilities but trying to help other people and broaden my understanding of the challenges that other people with disabilities have as well.
Yeah, as an interesting part, I think is, personal growth becomes a bit of a catch all, but you know, as an individual, we do learn more we go more in life, I'm talking very broadly. And suddenly, when you have a disability is that realization that even someone with a say SMA, or in general, someone with the same disability, it still has a different, it's a different experience, right? Like, I'm sure you have different ways about your personal care or just about day to day life than I do. But then you've got other kind of reasons, people in wheelchairs and then you've got blind people, deaf people. So, it's like, there's lots of different experiences in disability and the scale as well, like the 1.3 billion global population. It's quite eye opening, whether you realize, that right?
Oh, yeah, it's huge. I mean, it's, you know, just if you take wheelchair users alone, you can then break them down into like, another six, seven different types of demographics. You have people in neuromuscular conditions, or spinal cord injuries, people with cerebral palsy, those just are brittle bones. There's just such a vast array of people. And actually, disability is quite unique, but you know, we all have a lot in common collectively as a group. And I think it's that commonality that we all have that brings us together and makes us such a powerful community.
Definitely. Also, when we look at it from that entrepreneurial side, there's the product development product design side, there's obviously the marketing side, and you know, you get into that kind of data and segments and stuff. Did you come at it very much on like, the health condition, and the data as a segment? Or was there another part where you broke down sort of barriers or particular themes or groups of needs, that might then have encompassed multiple health conditions?
Yeah, it's a good question. So interestingly, on the flight back from Tenerife, there was a gentleman that was about six foot three, six foot four and about 18, probably about 16 stone, I would say he's a big guy, not particularly fat, but just a very tall, chunky, and it had clearly had an injury of some sort. And it was completely different disability to me, an acquired injury. And the challenge of getting him on and off an aircraft was just mind blowing. Like, if I was, he I'd be petrified of flying, but yet he did it anyway. And the point to your question is, from that moment, I realized it wasn't just me, it was other people with other conditions that are having trouble. And so, I soon quickly learned that actually, it wasn't just me, and that actually this product needed to be thought of from other different user points. And the challenge is, is you have people with neuromuscular disease, like ourselves that are quite, you know, relatively small, petite, not particularly large, whereas you then take somebody with a spinal cord injury that was, say, a rugby player that, you know, is built like a brick house, and huge, and now all of a sudden, it's a completely different body and posture. So, the way in which somebody sits is totally different. And so what we had to do was look at the market that was already out there and existing products, and then look at different types of wheelchairs, look at aircraft, you know, aircraft all have different dimensions, widths, etc. and then trying to cater for everybody's needs, whilst factoring the challenges in space within an aircraft, we had to be very specific on the how big or small that we could make the seats. And so, in some respects, from an aviation point of view, it's, it's, it's hampered us slightly in terms of size. But what's really good now is during COVID, we've taken the opportunity to say, look, actually, yes, we've got this product that helps people, but we are hampered in terms of size. So, let's create a different version of the seat that we've currently got. So that we can cater for more wider people and make it more appliable to different types of activities, rather than just flying and all of a sudden, it just opens up our market even more. So, it's kind of touching on more recent developments with COVID, diversification, pivoting, which is, you know, quite popular, and most recently in the entrepreneurial world, given what's happened.
Yeah, that's awesome, I would definitely go a little bit more into COVID. A little bit more into expansion, but just breaking things down for the listener a little bit more, I think we've covered the, I sort of backstory, disability, the fact that the travel was a passion, and also there's a lot of difficulties, and then this kind of correlation of, you know, a way of solving a problem entrepreneurially. But also, with Simon Sinek, the book, you read the kind of job you were doing a bit of a change. So, you left a job started your own business. So, I guess it was just to tackle that first iteration, that first product that you know, when we met the first time was an idea. And a year later, it was on the stand and you were selling it to people? Had you got experience of product design and manufacturing? And if not, how did you go about making that happen?
No, I was completely new to kind of product design, certainly from a physical product point of view, I understood software design, and how that was built. And actually, the logic and fundamentals of programming software design, it can be very much transferable into the real world, not you know, products and services that you might create. So, I had a good background in that. But in terms of actually trying to, you know, we were developing a medical product that has a whole set of criteria to be CE marked in the UK, and how can somebody at the age of 25 come out of university with no medical background at all, and just go and create a medical product and launch it to market within a year. I mean, it's like pretty ridiculous to be fair, and it still I still amaze myself now and what I had to do that was like...
Sorry to interrupt you. Isn't that kind of genius, insanity perspective of that market about you, right?
It's called barking crazy entrepreneurship. You just you just see something and go for it and don't hold back. And you've got to move quickly in this world. You know, things don't, you know, things don't stay stagnant for too long now. And that's even with physical products, you know, not just technology, everything's just changing all the time. Yeah, so what I did was, you know, as an entrepreneur to start, you've got to, you know, do everything and you've got to your, you're kind of like the brains that knows everything, where to go, what to do, who to ask, blah, blah, blah. And it was kind of like, well, this medical world is a whole new world. For me, I don't want to really understand it, I just want to know, how do I get my product to market. So, what I thought was, okay, so let's, let's bring out some manufacturers. And so rather than me being the manufacturer, and doing all the making and testing, why not just outsource it to a third party, let them make it for us. And then we just go and do all the selling and the marketing of it. Because that allows me to get to market much quicker without having to have all the understanding. And I can just use that third party, as a bolt on to the business as a partner to kind of help take care of all of that side. So as I bring new products to market, which I've been doing, they've been working with me on this new version of the seat that I'm bringing out, and now it's just in its final stages of being certified, and then it's out on the market, I don't have to do all of that, I just go to my manufacturing arm and say, look, I've got this idea, we need to tweak it lightly, because we've had, you know, one or two slight adjustments that we need to make to make it more pliable, and cheaper, which I think is also quite a positive to take from it. And they've just taken care of it for me. So, I think as an entrepreneur, you need to always remember that you can't do everything. And you look at what areas of specialty you need to specialize in. And if you don't know it, you need to go and find somebody to help you, which is why businesses have partners.
That nice thing about playing to your strengths and you know, understanding, inverted commas, weaknesses, but then the are partnering and I think we probably owe the listeners. Yeah, have you got like an elevator pitch or a very, like, well, we've talked a lot about the product, and it says solution for air travel, but like, just give it to them straight like. What was that first product literally, in terms of how would you describe it? So, it was ableMove (https://ablemove.co.uk/), and it's currently called Easy Travel Seats (https://www.easytravelseat.com/). And it's essentially a sling combined into a seat that is placed into the wheelchair before you go out traveling. And then when you need to be lifted out of your wheelchair, manually, are you able to hoist, it's there ready to go for you to be lifted without being lifted under the arms and legs. But it can obviously be used with a hoist. And it can... For anyone that doesn't know is, how you and I and others in similar situations are lifted at, say at home, it's like a crane and that the sling goes under us and attaches to the hoist, which is like a crane. And then it electronically lifts us and moves us. But on an airplane, some attempts have been together, like a hoist, but it's not enough room and maneuverability, right? Whereas what you've designed, people were needed to do that physical lifting, but it makes it safer and more comfortable.
Yeah, and I've had this conversation with several people, our solution is great. Now you can buy it, you can use it, and it will make that overall flying journey easier. And it should reduce anxiety and make it more comfortable for you. But ultimately, it's not a solution. It's just a workaround to the solution that everybody wants. And so, you know, at this moment in time, there's a there's a good gap in the market for what we provide. But ultimately, you know, if the solution of wheelchairs on board, you know comes to fruition, then then fantastic, not that it will impact us too much because of the way that we're pivoting now. And the new product ranges that we've got coming through and the way we're trying to broaden the business. So, it's almost like a pivot for risk mitigation, let's say to kind of ensure that the products that we've got now is still appropriate in other areas.
Mai Ling [Sponsor Ad] 23:51
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Now let's get back to our amazing interview.
Well, we got a couple of talking points. Obviously, we're in COVID. That's massively negatively disrupted air travel, definitely a talking point more broadly about entrepreneurship and includes images before we go into those final two points. Give us a very quick couple of highs and lows since launch and I know one, as you mentioned, the Easy Travel Seat bit. So, it will be great to talk about the award and the investment and that, but yeah, just a couple of so the top-level highs and lows up to today.
Yeah, I think you know, the highs were definitely winning the UK Disabled Entrepreneurs Award back in 2018, which is run by Sir Stelios, the founder of EasyJet, who every year runs, apart from last year because of COVID, of course, runs a program that recognizes disabled entrepreneurs that have created their own ventures, whether it be charity, social enterprise, business, etc. and awards of grant funding goes to those businesses, and it's normally five every year and we won it in 2018. And for me, that was that was pretty special that was running in conjunction with Leonard Cheshire as well. And for me, that was kind of that recognition point of where you've actually developed something that somebody sees potential in and wants to support you in that initiative. And for me, that was quite a you know, empowering and the fact that I had my family there as well, was even more special, I think. So that was definitely a high. I think the other high was also being recognized by UWE, the University of West of England in Bristol for my commitment to the general public, and students and people with disabilities. And they gave me an honorary master’s degree in Technology, which was pretty special. So that I know I had to get up and speak to like, 800 students, and I'm like, Oh my god, this is like one of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever done. So that was, that was a good high. And then we've had a couple of other quick other areas, with winds, with airlines, so British Airways, EasyJet, we're now on Jet2's website as well, which is good. So, you know that that's nice to get those recognitions from industry as well. And then in terms of lows, I mean, you get your days where you don't really get any sales, and it's a bit disheartening, then you get your days where you're kind of sat there and you thinking, Oh, what do I do next, and, you know, having a, not a plan the plans there, but you know, you have those days where you're either low because of motivation, whether that's the business or whether it's your disability that you're dealing with on a day to day basis, you know, you do get those you do get those low points. And when things aren't quite planning out, sometimes in your personal life, that then does obviously have a knock-on effect. But I've always kind of used the business as a motivator rather than a negative, it's always a reason to get up and do stuff, because you know that the byproduct of what you do is actually, you know, making people's lives easier and more comfortable. And so, I always remind myself, if I am struggling, that that is the reason for getting out of bed in the morning. And it's worked wonders for me. I mean, you know, I don't really get low days, you know, I'm quite a positive person anyway. But you know, they do happen, it's just making sure that as an entrepreneur, that you have your goals, you have your plan, and you know where you're going, you know what you do works, and you just got to keep grinding away. And sometimes it's one of these things like you mentioned earlier that I've scaled my business very quickly, and I'm where I am within two years, you know, and then you kind of compare yourself to others, you think, Oh, my God, look how much they've achieved. And then, and then you realize that businesses don't just happen overnight, you know, we're having the conversation in the beginning, it can take five to 10 years before a business really starts hitting the ground. And so, for me, it's reassuring myself that I'm actually still only two years in, it's not well combination. It's just one step at a time. And yeah, just keep driving the sales, have targets and see if you can hit them and just enjoy it. That's what I'm trying to do now. But obviously COVID has just chucked a huge curveball into the, into the mix is now.
Yeah, you have mentioned a couple of times of pivoting, diversify, and there are things that, you know, can be important strategies or tactics for any entrepreneur, any business in general. But yeah, like, as you say, COVID and travel, not been a good company. Obviously, everyone knows the big picture of COVID. And I'm sure the big picture of how it's impacted air travel. But give us a couple of lessons you've had through the fact that air travel's been so negatively impacted.
I just want to quickly add, I forgot one of my highs and I don't know how I forgotten it. And I apologize tremendously. But I won the Great British Entrepreneur of the Year, a young entrepreneur for the whole of Great Britain, not this year, just gone but the year before, and to be recognized as Great Britain's Young Entrepreneur I think, is a massive, massive achievement. And it's something that that their community that they represent is you know, linked with big organizations. And I think for me, you know, some of the other young entrepreneurs that have won that award, you know, companies like Grenade, you know, have scaled up to be this massive organization. Now, there's a lot of young entrepreneurs that have won that award that have gone on to be quite successful. So, you know, there is a, that was a high for me, and now I've got to go and bloody deliver the goods tried it. So, there's like this pressure.
Scale, scale quick, get all these awards, and then you have to sustain it. And because I was gonna say before, a lot of business to survive for five years is a big success. So, you know, everything you've done is brilliant. And I know it's a good foundation, you're going to build on it. But yeah, I mean, what you've done is phenomenal. Because for many, it literally is just don't let the lights go out for the first 2, 3, 4, 5 years.
Yeah. And I think, yeah, it's something what, like 80, or 90% of businesses fail within the first couple of years. But anyway, in terms of the lessons, I think one of the most interesting things is when you look at Elon Musk, right with Tesla, there was a was an article recently, or a podcast he was on, that said, stop spending time in front of PowerPoint presentations, and get out there and start innovating, because innovating is what changes the world. And I think when you're in this, this COVID pandemic has given everybody the opportunity to stop and you know, really have a good think about what they're doing maybe in their personal career, personal life, whatever it might be. And what we did was say, Okay, let's look at where we were before pre COVID, as a business, and look at how we were, you know, performing and look at maybe some of the challenges that we were facing, or some of the barriers that were put up in front of us, and how can we remove those barriers? What can we add to our range? Or where can we see a market going forward that isn't so dependent on aviation, and I don't think without COVID, I wouldn't be where I am now. I, I genuinely believe that we are in a better position, now, overall, financially, and better well positioned that when COVID finishes, we can hit the ground running with a whole portfolio of products. Now, not many businesses can say that they started COVID and come out of COVID in a better position than what they were when they went in. And it's not like we've made money over COVID we haven't, we've lost money, but the business is in a better place. Now to kind of get your head around that is, it's really positive to think that you're in a better place than you were pre COVID. But you've not got as much money. But that's fine. Because we're now in a position where we've got more products, we can generate more revenue streams, more business, and more b2b sales, and hopefully going forward, we can really kick on so I, in the grand scheme of things, I'm quite grateful for COVID actually, to be fair, and I'm very grateful for around Rishi Sunak, and the furlough scheme, because I think without that, I we would really be struggling without that. So, you know, that's been a big, big advantage. But yeah, I think that that time to be able to reflect and focus on creating new products for disabled people, by disabled people, is something that's really powerful. And what we're doing now going forward is I want to be able to use disabled people to come to us with their ideas around their lifestyle, you know, what, where can they see new innovative products that can help them on a day to day living basis, whether it be attachments for wheelchairs, whether it be products, you know, to help with keeping your hands warm, legs, warm, whatever it might be anything that's cool and funky, that improves day to day living for people with disabilities, that's kind of the direction I want to push the business in. And then from behind that, you know, we can then start looking at maybe services, not just products, and kind of really grow it out a bit more into that health and lifestyle space, because I think it's such a big market. And one of the things that also needs to be focused on is mental health as well. And I think that's another big one for people, not just with disabilities. And I think there's definitely some opportunity not necessarily for us to make money out of, but certainly partner with organizations to support our overall mission of where we want to go with the business and what we're actually trying to achieve.
That's amazing, Josh. I was just pondering on the COVID stuff, like, you know, it goes without saying that anyone affected with family or personally, that side of it's been horrendous. And that that just goes without saying, but when I was doing a live stream earlier, that was more talking about the personal development I've done separate to work on professional life, and the mindset of like coping with the pandemic and the lockdown. And I think echoes a lot of things you said whether it's personal development for professional development, business development, it's given everyone a chance to stop, to reflect, to innovate all the great stuff you said, and, you know, and for the American listeners, when you refer to the furlough scheme, scheme and Sunak, that's the British sort of model where people that were losing income got paid because of the negative impacts of the pandemic. I just wanted to clarify that for some people. But yeah, ultimately, it's like if we can get through it healthy and economically intact, then those that have used it as a growth opportunity are going to come out stronger on the sort of micro and the macro level. And I think that's just a really interesting, empowering way of looking at what's been challenging. And for some, it's been horrendous. But I think that, that is the optimism and positives of that, and then weave in that into the entrepreneurship and inclusion side and talk about, you know, giving back and helping make sort of the world better for disabled people. Yep, sounds are a lot of interesting stuff coming up as well.
There is a, while I do know, I'm really looking forward to what disabled entrepreneurs, have, or new disable entrepreneurs that have come out from last year and started up their business over COVID, I can see where they're going to be next year and in the years to come. I think there's going to be lots of interesting things that come out of it. And I think, you know, depending on the way the world goes, you know, we could see a significant rise in disabled entrepreneurs, as these larger organizations, and the work that you're doing are raising the profile, it creates more of an opportunity for disabled people to create their own businesses. And so, I think to say, what entrepreneurship will grow over the next five years, and I think we need, we need more government support, to help disabled people move into the entrepreneurial world. You know, there's some fantastic organizations out there, you know, with Hardeep, and Kaleidoscope (https://www.kaleidoscopeinvestments.com/) and various other individuals like Stelios, with his Disabled Entrepreneurs Award and , Leonard Cheshire (https://www.leonardcheshire.org/), there are stuff out there, but we need more of that, to really give people that platform to move in because it is a scary jump, you know, it really is a scary jump, and you need good solid investment. Because it's not easy when you've got a disability to be working full time, then having carers come in for however many hours a day, and then spend your spare time trying to create a business, it doesn't really necessarily happen. And I think that's why there's a big gap in people becoming disabled entrepreneurs, because they just physically cannot make that transition. Because it's just, you know, physically, mentally, it's too big a gap. And what they need is the time to better focus on it all day, as if it was their full-time job, which is why you need investors or support packages to enable you to make that transition. Or people that don't even necessarily, they may not even be an employment but want to start a business but can't. So, I just think there's more that we can be doing to raise that profile and make that transition into disabled entrepreneurship easier for people.
Yeah, 100% agree. And again, anyone listening Hardeep (https://xceptionalleaders.libsyn.com/startup-funding-and-employment-opportunities-for-disabled-people-with-hardeep-rai), that just referred to we actually covered an interview with Hardeep last year, so you can look through the catalog and find that episode, which he goes into a lot of depth about how he's trying to unlock more investment into disability entrepreneurship.
So that's gonna come guys, it's gonna come, it's coming up and you feel it, that's exciting.
May be we could go on all day, I love chatting with you, I think your creativity, you know, your innovativeness, it's yeah, it's just infectious and fascinating, we are gonna have to draw the interview to a close in a couple of minutes. But really, just to finish off, gonna put you on the spot. But if you know anyone listening, and that whoever they are disabled or not, I know we get listeners that don't have a disability, but they still want to make the world inclusive and better for disabled people have so regardless of if they have a disability or not, what would you say top three bits of advice be for 2021, if they've got an idea that's going to make the world better.
My first top tip is do it, just do it. If it's in your brain, and you think there's a gap, and you're passionate about it, just do it. You know, it always works out. I mean, I've just bitten the bullet. And whatever happens, I don't live with any regrets now, because I've just done it. So, my top tip is do it if you if it's there for you to do. My second top tip is to have an arsenal of weapons at your disposal. And what I mean by that is not just people, but you know, having a toolbox of tools. So, you know, that mental support bubble that you might have to keep you in a good state of mind. I know, Martyn, you've been doing very well with kind of yours, what is it you've been reading about Buddha and all that sort of stuff that that side sort of? Yeah, I just I just think stuff that you can do to keep your mental health in a good state. I think it's important. So, I definitely would focus in on the mental health side. And then I think my third top tip, I would say, research. I think I think research is a is a very big one to get right when you're starting out if you're doing a business. Because this if you do it right and do it properly, it will save you a huge amount of time and accelerate you to where you need to be not where you want to be. Your research will normally dictate where you need to go if you've done it properly. And I'm not saying I didn't I definitely did good research, but I've just found that, you know, with a bit more push, you can actually find out a lot more information that can help with things like marketing and sales. And you know how you how you're going to sort of drive your business in the direction that it needs to go in. So, I think research is definitely a top tip, and actively research, right. So, it's no good just researching to start your business, you need to be researching all the time, every day, all day, every day. So yeah, I think it's my top tips for this year is do it, have a good mental toolbox mindset ready for this year and the challenges that come, and always do your research as an entrepreneur.
Amazing. That's a very good top three tips. I know I put you on the spot. And there's an infinite number of tips you did.
I'm sweating now, I'm like, ready for bed bath
You did well. You did well. Had, on that research one, is that very synonymous with the consumer voice and consumer insights, or is that a lot of other relevance of research different to that?
I think it's all of it. I think there's bits of everything that you need to do consumer insights. Yes. You know, you look at customer you look at consumer habits and technology and what works and what draws them in.
So that is a lot more than just consumer insight.
Absolutely. Yeah, huge. Yeah, I would say so.
All right. Well, thanks again, always a pleasure, never a chore. And I look forward to getting all the feedback from the listeners on your, your story. And your journey is very inspiring. But I think, yeah, that's I imagine people are going to be inspired to take action, which I think is an important consequence of inspiration that they can get out there and chase their dreams and create new products and services that the world needs as well.
Absolutely. Brilliant. Thank you. It's been a pleasure first podcast of the year I'm gonna, I might even put that in in my LinkedIn profile. Now, because you're getting so famous, I'm going to put in there. Number one podcast for Martyn Sibley or the Xceptional Leaders. I might even put that in for 2021.
Sounds good man. Sounds good. Alright, take care dude.
Mai Ling 42:03
Thanks so much for joining us for this episode. And I invite you to connect with me directly at Malinchan.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 Xceptional Leaders podcast, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, Xceptional 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. Love it. Also, for everyone listening please do head over to disabilityadvisors.com This is the magazine that I co-founded about 10 years ago. 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 do get your copy of 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.
I'm Josh Wintersgill, 27 years old and I live with a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Currently, I have been running my own business Able Move (a.k.a easyTravelseat) over the last 3 years, after winning the UK disabled entrepreneur awards and securing investment from easyGroup in 2018. Since then I have won various accolades such as an Honorary Masters and crowned Great Britain's Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019. Aside from business I have taken on various responsibilities in the disability community space including aviation and the charity. I am also a keen sports person and aspire to be a Paralympian. 3 years ago, I was accepted onto the Great British Shooting Talent and Development squad. I currently have my eyes set for Paris in 2024. Lastly, I am a proud Man United fan!