The Smergos story began one morning as Nick was thinking about what he could give Nicole on her next birthday. After a while, he thought of giving her a custom-made ‘chair-T’ which she could slip onto the back of her wheelchair. It would be unique, original and distinctively Nicole.
The more he thought about the idea, the more Nick began to see far richer possibilities. That afternoon, he called Nicole and asked her if she would like to make something that could change lives. Her response? “Definitely! I’m in!”
After meeting to discuss the idea in more detail, they decided to pursue the concept as a fully-fledged business venture.
Smergos was born.
Together, Nick and Nicole worked on putting together a basic business plan while thoroughly researching their target market and existing or potential competitors. It didn’t take them long to establish that although similar products existed overseas – primarily in the USA and UK – there were no such products in the South African market.
Both Nick and Nicole have dealt with their own disabilities for most of their lives and overcome numerous challenges along the way. Aged just six months, Nick was involved in a car accident that resulted in cerebral palsy with left hemiplegia. Nicole was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital disorder characterised by brittle bones that are prone to fracture. Consequently, she has never been able to walk and is permanently in a wheelchair.
However, we are talking about two driven and determined individuals whose positive mind-sets would never allow their disabilities to define them or prevent them from fulfilling their life goals. Their personal experiences have given them an acute awareness and understanding of what disabled people need and how the current marketplace is failing to meet many of those needs.
Their mission is to create functional products that give users greater independence and mobility while enabling them to express their unique personalities and creativity. Just as other people are free to dress according to their individual style and different occasions, Smergos aims to offer products that empower their customers to dress their wheelchair according to their individual style and different occasions.
With this in mind, Smergos offers a range of bags and accessories in various designs to cater for different wheelchairs. These designs can be adjusted to meet the user’s individual requirements. In addition, they will allow users to personalise their bags using various creative, custom-made designs, colours and tag lines.
Smergos is a start-up company co-owned by Nick Smit and Nicole Vergos. We are two passionate individuals dedicated to creating a range of wheelchair bags and other accessories that provide much-needed functionality through a choice of simple, personalised designs.
As business partners, both of us have first-hand experience of living with disability. Consequently, we have a sound understanding of what people with special needs require and the best way to fulfill their requirements.
Smergos is the first South African company to manufacture bags specifically designed for people who are physically challenged. Our aim is to offer a range of bags that fit neatly onto any wheelchair, giving the user a safe and easily-accessible way of carrying their belongings. Our wheelchair bags are also designed so that able-bodied people can carry them just as easily. So, not only do Smergos bags improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, but they also benefit their loved ones.
We are both highly motivated people and want to see Smergos succeed. With this in mind, we plan to expand our wheelchair product range to include not just bags but many other exciting accessories. We aim to expand our product offerings to fulfill the needs of people living with other disabilities. As the company grows, our ultimate vision is to take Smergos global within the next five to seven years.