Travel can be daunting for those with disabilities.
A Ponte Vedra startup seeks to eliminate some of the obstacles that discourage or even prohibit people with temporary or permanent disabilities from venturing away from home. HandyQuip is a new online marketplace designed to make it easy for anyone to rent medical equipment.
“Were doing this because we strongly believe everyone should be able to live comfortably and to freely explore the world,” cofounder Stephane Poussou said. “People with disabilities are less likely to travel or visit family and that excludes them from society.”
The idea for HandyQuip was borne out of a personal experience.
“A few years ago, my brother-in-law was graduating from college and wanted to go to Las Vegas to celebrate,” Poussou said. “It was very difficult for him to travel because he was in car accident that caused a spinal cord injury and he is paralyzed from waist down.”
The trip was kind of a milestone for recent graduate Brandon Bonaquist, so Poussou and his wife said they would help him plan the trip. Bonaquist would be flying, and leaving the state, for the first time. Poussou said his brother-in-law was very nervous that something would go wrong. When Poussou’s wife started looking to get medical bed for the hotel, she could not rent a bed.
“There was nothing for us to easily rent bed from another state,” Poussou said.
After extensive time and research, she arranged to have a bed delivered to the hotel just before they arrived in Las Vegas. It was the wrong bed, so Bonaquist could not use it.
The unfortunate scenario revealed to Poussou that people do not have access to medical equipment online and small businesses do not have the resources to create a tech-savvy site to facilitate rentals.
“I quit my job (in 2013) and started to solve the problem,” Poussou said.
Demand is growing for medical equipment, but there are very few resources. According to the National Service Inclusion Project, 24.1 million people in the country live with a severe disability. Poussou said 12 million require medical equipment to live every day. People can also use the site to try equipment before making a purchase.
The website seeks to allow them the flexibility to do whatever they want. The idea is to help people focus on the important things like visiting family, taking a vacation or traveling. The goal was to engineer a site where anyone could easily rent medical equipment like they would rent a hotel room. Poussou worked with a software engineer to design algorithms so users would not be overwhelmed with too many choices and still match people with what they want at a good price.
The medical equipment may serve everyday needs with items like wheelchairs, scooters, walkers or tools to take a bath safely. Other specialty home health equipment may include lift chairs, specialty beds or sleep apnea machines.
The steps to rent equipment at HandyQuip.com are straightforward. Choose what type of equipment is needed, select the rental period dates from a calendar, and type in the location. “Quinn,” assists renters through the process to match equipment with the user who selects desired features.
For now, delivery is available throughout Northeast Florida, from Jacksonville to Ponte Vedra and Nocatee. HandyQuip also seeks to be a resource for local tourism and hospitality providers in Ponte Vedra, such as resorts, hotels, conference centers and other short-term rental hosts. It’s a free tool that can be shared with guests to make their experience more comfortable, inclusive and enjoyable.
Ultimately, HandyQuip wants to make medical equipment rental available worldwide.
“For many people medical equipment is a necessity; it is vital in their life,” he said.
For more information, visit www.handyquip.com.