Iowa’s West Coast Initiative Feature
Ability Tech is an innovative company that invents and manufactures adaptive technology to be used for universal abilities. Ability Tech’s focus is custom builds, like the Switch Hitter. All of our builds come from ideas that we have personal experience with our son or from families and individuals from around the world. We also offer other services such as our CharitAbility project, toy modifications, Blessing Bags, and an EagleEye representative.
What motivated you to start your business? What drives you each day?
It all started with the Switch Hitter. Our son, Kayden, absolutely loves baseball, but because of his limitations and using a wheelchair, he cannot play without physical help from someone else. We headed to the drawing board and came up with the Switch Hitter. Since then, Ability Tech has become so much more.
This is not just about Ability Tech or our son Kayden. It is the story of many others that might feel powerless in their situations.
What’s unique about your business?
Due to our son, Kayden, and his high medical needs, we, as a family and business, not only directly understand the struggle families and individuals go through to receive equipment or supplies but also when it comes to feeling left out in everyday activities. Therefore, Ability Tech advocates for inclusion. We do not charge for labor on any of our products or turn away any individual or family because of their financial stability. All our products and services are individualized and customized to everyone. Ability Tech uses its funds to reinvest back into the company and the community.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as you’ve grown your business?
The overall biggest challenge that we’ve faced, and continue to overcome, is getting Ability Tech’s name out there with limited resources.
What has been your greatest reward?
There has been no greater reward than being able to create what seems like a small change to most people but can be world-altering for our customers. It’s the reactions from the individuals and their families that we have helped. There are no words that express how it feels when an individual finds out that these devices are made just for them, personalized just for them, that excitement that it’s all just for them.
How have you benefited from the startup community in Sioux City and the region? What resources did you use?
The startup community has welcomed Ability Tech. We have used a few resources such as The Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, Iowa’s West Coast Initiative, and many influential leaders and entrepreneurs within the community that have guided Ability Tech in many ways. It is an amazing feeling when these other organizations or individuals that have businesses or work for businesses within the community treat you as a partner and help with your growth without making it about competition or agenda. They want to see you succeed just as much as you do.
Are there any experiences that were particularly influential in that regard?
The impact of startups on our local economy is powerful, and it is important for the community to support these businesses. A successful startup company is more likely to remain in its home community and care for its community if it receives support through the difficult initial years. A community that supports entrepreneurs will encourage more entrepreneurs, which will help produce a more stable local economy.
Why is it important for the community to support startups and small businesses? What more can be done to help them?
It is extremely important to support and promote new and unique businesses that bring innovative ideas into our community. This will give the businesses access to more experts, coaching, waivers for first or second-year businesses in larger business events.
What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when starting your business?
That we are not on our own. We have great community support beyond what we ever expected.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business?
Starting a business is never a matter of financial gains alone. It’s a matter of the impact that business will have on the consumers and community at large. Set goals and achieve them, make mistakes, and learn from them. Most importantly stay true to yourself and the reason you started or wanted to start, no matter what temptations are trying to change that.
How can the community continue to help your business?
Due to being such a unique, small business, with a small startup budget, it can often be difficult to afford to advertise or bring attention to our mission. We rely heavily on word of mouth, referrals, and the generosity of our community to support and share our story. The more our community shares, likes, or follows our social media the more individuals we can reach; but more importantly, the more lives we can help change.
What are some future goals for your company?
We have our standard goals of expanding to an actual office/shop that individuals can visit, advocate more in the community, offer employment or internship opportunities, and to keep learning new skills to better our craft. Our main goal is to keep changing the lives of the individuals we serve. As long as we meet that goal, then we are doing what we started out to do.