When a snowboarding accident left Patrick Mayer wheelchair-bound, he learned firsthand the difficulties of navigating in the snow. To improve mobility, the pro boarder turned psychologist spent three years creating Wheelblades. It required a lot of trial and error.
1. Mayer focused on creating a simple binding to affix skis to the front wheels of his wheelchair. Constructed using just two screws, the bindings’ width can change to fit the wheel, anywhere from 1.8 to 6 centimeters.
2. Early prototypes proved too heavy and too narrow: Stones got caught between the blade and the wheel.
For the final prototype, Mayer chose rugged synthetics and a wider blade to keep foreign materials out of the system.
3. To raise funds for production, Mayer asked for donations on his website. (For the non–U.S. resident, Kickstarter wasn’t an option.) In six months, 120 donors gave a total of $40,000.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.