For some, to be born with a disability is to be born an entrepreneur.
Muscular dystrophy caused Alan Chaulet '13 to lose strength year by year, landing him in a wheelchair by the time he was a teenager. He compensated by coming up with creative ways to work a controller to play video games, and learned to operate a computer with voice commands and an on-screen keyboard.
"So many people with disabilities, when we see a problem, we have to fix it," says the former Management major. "I’ve seen people be incredibly creative in the way they modify their technology and their environment."
What makes us different makes us badass.Motto, Badass Mobility
As vice president of the nonprofit All Wheels Up, Chaulet is working to fix a pressing problem for people who use wheelchairs: accessibility of airplanes. Currently, such travelers have to leave their wheelchair on the jet bridge. They can struggle to get to their seat. And, too often, airlines damage wheelchairs, which can cost upward of $20,000 to replace.
Chaulet has used his Bentley education to make a business case for airlines to retrofit planes to accommodate wheelchairs, identifying an untapped market of millions of travelers. He has also lobbied Congress, which recently passed a law requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a two-year feasibility study of wheelchair restraints on aircraft.
"We're really excited that this is being done," says the alumnus, who lives in Lexington, Mass.
Another venture is his nonprofit consulting and media company, Badass Ability (motto: What makes us different makes us badass). Chaulet hopes to use the platform to help solve other problems facing disabled people — and open doors for more of them to become entrepreneurs.
"People see disabled people and think they can't be employed," he says. "That's a stereotype I'd like to change."