FORT COLLINS - John Morris is a 28-year-old economics graduate from Colorado State University who has invented a new suspension system for wheelchairs — because he uses one.
When Morris was 18 years old, he landed on his head in a freak snowboarding accident. Morris spent over four months in the hospital and was discharged as a C-4 quadriplegic. Two years later decided to pursue his college career studying economics.
"The whole economics department was amazing," Morris said. "They were really fun to be around and I loved all the professors, they made it really interesting." Morris has been taking nine credits per semester, using Medicaid's Consumer Directed Attendant Support Services to hire 11 people who help him with daily needs.
Morris used an antenna-propelled manual wheelchair for five years before he switched to a powered chair. The switch inspired an idea for a new business.
"While I was attending CSU I realized 'Oh man, why do I have somebody pushing me around? I would rather jump into one of these powered chairs so I can do everything on my own,'" said Morris. "And that's when I made the realization of 'Hey, why does my powered chair have suspension and not my manual chair?' The quality of the ride is so much nicer when a chair has suspension."
He took a class for his business minor last spring called Introduction to Entrepreneurship, and he brought up his idea to his professor and explained that he wanted to take it further. At the end of the class, instructor Burton Deines showed him the Venture Accelerator Program through the College of Business' Institute of Entrepreneurship.
Last fall, Morris created and became the CEO of a company called QuadshoX, seeking to provide rearwheel suspension for manual wheelchairs. He partnered with two engineering students who he met through the Venture Accelerator Program. Josh Gladfelter and Garret Ehrick have been responsible for the engineering and design aspects of the product.
"We are on our last round of prototypes," Morris said. "We will get our final in here soon and we have 10 subjects ready to rock. They're excited."
SHARE this Facebook video explaining Morris' Kickstarter campaign.