Milwaukee has been the birthplace of many inventions throughout its history. In 1873, Christopher Latham Sholes invented the modern typewriter. In 1937, Alfred Woelbing created the lip balm Carmex. And numerous other companies, from Harley-Davidson to leading model train manufacturer Wm K. Walthers, have contributed greatly to their industries.
In this spirit, local entrepreneurs Jeremy Knopow and Jennifer Harris have created something that’s not trendy or cool, but something they believe is filling a hole in the marketplace.
Inspired by family members’ disappointment in the current walker selection, the business partners designed the Motivo Tour, a new type of walking aid that they believe provides more independence, ergonomics, sense of pride and personal style.
Since World War II, most product categories have seen drastic changes, but according to Knopow and Harris, personal walkers have experienced very little to no improvements. And they are ready to change that.
"I wanted something better for my dad and the tens of thousands of other people out there who just need a little extra help getting around, but who don’t want to have to sacrifice on either functionality or design," says Knopow, whose father used a walker while battling ALS.
Harris had similar negative experiences with walkers when her mother needed one following an injury.
"As we looked at the growing population of baby boomers and their parents, we thought we cannot be the only ones that feel this way," said Harris.
According to the inventors, the Motivo Tour has three main advantages compared to other walkers. First of all, the device – which is made in Wisconsin – allows users to walk upright, not hunched over which is more comfortable and healthier for a person’s back.
Secondly, because the design is streamlined, it makes it easier for people to reach things. "They don’t have to reach over a walker," says Harris.
And finally, users are also able to customize their walker with colors and removable graphics including holiday-themes, patriotic, flowers, sport teams or flames to express their personality.
The combination of these three aspects of the Motivo Tour is intended to offer personal pride as well as less of a visual that screams "disability."
"It looks nothing like a medical device," says Harris.
Other convenience features of the device include a stowaway padded seat, a fold-out tray with cup holders and a private, permanent storage area that doesn’t have to be removed or emptied out when folding up the Tour for transport.
The Motivo has been in the works for three years and underwent more than 300 hours of consumer testing and hundreds of hand-built prototypes. Harris and Knopow filed multiple U.S. and International patents and are on the verge of manufacturing the Motivo Tour, with the help of the current Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
Upon completion of the crowdfunding campaign, the Motivo Tour is scheduled to be available in fall 2014 via its website and at select retailers across the country.
"Each day more than 10,000 new baby boomers are retiring, and nearly every one of them will likely need a little extra help getting around at some stage of their life," said Knopow. "The Motivo Tour is our way to hopefully make that the best experience possible for them."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.