Editor’s Note: Inspired by a family member with disabilities, Moshe Goan used his diverse background in business, advertising, and investing to launch Yoocan and Alto. His aim: to allow people with disabilities to empower each other and find the products, services and innovations necessary to live a fulfilling life.
It all started with a personal story. My brother's son, Erez, was born in July 2008 with a rare disease, which created cognitive and physical limitations. Soon after, I realized that when people are dealing with a disabled family member, they go through a very difficult time. In the beginning, they don't know what to do, where to go, who to speak to, or where to find things. In many cases, the solutions are not nearby; they could be in another city or country.
There are 1.3 billion people in the world with disabilities.
In the US alone, there are nearly 57 million. Although there are many products, services, and innovations out there that cater to the disabled community, people don't always know about them, because they are scattered around the world and are very hard to find.
Editor’s Note: For more statistics on people living with disabilities in the US and worldwide, visit:
I decided to leave everything I was doing as an investor and businessman to focus on building Yoocan. My brother and I started it in July 2016. The idea was to test the waters to see how we could get organizations and people to share their stories, and empower and help each other. We wanted to allow people to find things they’re looking for through other people’s stories and then connect them to the products, services, and innovations that are out there.
Yoocan is free, and it's all about you. It's about what you want to do.
It's a place where you come to get empowered and find ideas about what you can do. You can explore options for activities that you can do based on where you are or on your disability. If you want to ski, dive, travel, or play the guitar, you can find somebody on the site that has already done it, read their story, get empowered by it, and learn to do it yourself. At the same time, you can find a service provider or innovation that can help you do it. For example, if you want to surf, you can find a surfing organization that will help you, even though you’re quadriplegic. It's very positive, empowering, and exciting.
We share one story a day from our Yoocan members on Instagram. If you want to share your story, go to the Yoocan homepage, and click on “Add New Story.” We take one of those submissions a day and put it up on Instagram. We also share the location the stories come from. I think people like sharing and reading other people’s stories from all over the world. We have stories from over 70 countries.
Editor’s note: If you share your story, don’t expect it to appear on Instagram right away, as there may be a long line of people in front of you. Check back regularly!
We noticed that 50% of the stories on Yoocan were coming from the US and that people not only wanted to share their story and connect with other individuals, but they also wanted to hear about organizations, services, discounts, and benefits. So, we decided to start Alto, America's first advantage club for people with disabilities. We offer solutions in the form of discounts on products and services. You can come and share you story on Yoocan, but if you also want to buy things at a discount, we will provide the platform.
We just launched on March 3, 2017. Alto is similar to what has been done in other categories (e.g., seniors, veterans, students) where a big group of people that share common interests get discounts and benefits. Some of the things we offer are free, and some are for payment. Whatever we get for free, we give for free. Whenever we can get a discount, we give our members a discount. All we're asking you to do is become a member. Members who buy on Alto can save hundreds of dollars. There are true savings and discounts that you won't find anywhere else.
Yoocan was initially created for the US market, but it naturally expanded globally. We want to do that with Alto, as well. Currently, you can sign up for Alto from anywhere in the world. However, we will only sell you something if the vendor ships to where you are. Most of the dealers deliver outside of the US, but you'll have to pay the shipping costs and possibly customs charges depending on your country. If you want to buy something, and the dealer or vendor can deliver it to where you are, then go for it! Once we prove the concept and grow, there's no reason why we can't expand very easily into Europe and elsewhere. It's just a matter of time.
When we started, we wanted to focus first on paralysis, because there are 5.6 million people in the US living with it.
These are generally very active people who like to do a lot of sports. They're very engaging, social, and really want to do amazing things — diving, flying airplanes, motocross, tennis, basketball, skiing, hockey, and anything else you can think of. So, a lot of our focus is on SCI and wheelchair users. We have a lot of vendors selling on our site that have things like wheelchairs, accessories for wheelchairs, and electrical equipment that connects to chairs. We also have partnerships with travel agencies specializing in wheelchair travel.
As we continue to grow, we’ll bring in more partnerships. We're always looking for great vendors that want to sell on Alto. They could be services, product manufacturers, or innovators. We'd love to work with any amazing organizations that want to work with us to create services and benefits for people.
Editor’s Note: You can follow Yoocan and Alto on their various social media sites.
Betsy Bailey has a diverse background including experience in marketing research at American Express, business operations and client relations with 601am, travel and culinary writing with VegDining, and playing volleyball professionally overseas.
Betsy is excited to get back into writing, something she’s adored since childhood, and thoroughly enjoys the process of getting to know her interviewees. On top of her work with Wheel:Life, she also teaches students learning English as a second language, speaks French fluently, and travels any chance she gets!