“We actually create businesses that help contribute to a healthier world for all of us. Businesses are better when they are better for people and better for the world.”
— BE Alink, The Alinker
In this episode
Catch up with BE Alink of Coralus Venture The Alinker as we celebrate 5 years of being in community together. BE joins Venture Development Guide Loren Walsh to share how the Alinker came about, stories from her time as a Coralus Venture, and reflections on being part of the perpetual loan model + legacy.
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The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).
BE Alink 0:00
We actually create businesses that help contribute to a bit of a healthier world for all of us. Because that makes sense in a business place. Businesses are better when they are better for people and better for the world.
Danielle Cadhit 0:17
Welcome to the Ripples of Radical Generosity podcast by Coralus, a global community of women and non-binary people making real progress on the World’s To-Do List. Together, we’re transforming the world to become more equitable and sustainable.
Loren Walsh 0:37
This is Loren Walsh, and I am one of the development guides with Coralus. Great to be with you BE, I have actually had the privilege of connecting with you and knowing you for close to I think six years now. And so it’s great to be on the call with you today. And I’m going to ask you to share with our listeners how you came about creating your business, The Alinker, and I do want to say that your company has a really special place in my heart, because as you know, I’ve shared with you that my mother had MS and was confined to a wheelchair in her later years. And I think that if The Alinker had been available, when she was younger, she probably could have avoided the wheelchair. So I’m so excited for everyone who’s going to benefit from your brilliance. So over to you tell us about The Alinker, and yourself and how this all came about.
BE Alink 1:26
Oh, well, it’s a very special day that you’re interviewing me because today it is 10 years ago that we incorporated the Alinker — that I incorporated the Alinker. And I say I here, because at that time, I was completely alone and completely unresourced. 10 years later, now I have a team and I’m very resourced, especially since I became one of the then SheEO ventures in the second year of SheEO, now called Coralus. And that literally changed my life. The Alinker for the people that don’t know is a three wheeled walking bike with two wheels at the front and overarching frame to the back to one smaller rear wheel with a seating assembly on top. And so it’s based on, we’re not a body with a problem, the moment we have a disability, but we are the same active and engaged people. And so I designed the Alinker for how we want to feel. And on the Alinker, you’re the one with a cool bike, you’re at eye level, you’ve got no pressure on your legs, you’ve got a good posture, you’ve got full circulation, it activates the brain and you’re much more independent than you are with other walking aids. And can go further with less fatigue is what people with MS generally say, you can move independently, get your agency back. be treated not as like, oh what happened to you or like, isolated from society because you’re so uncomfortable. But being the one on the cool bike makes you, makes people want to talk with you is like oh my god, what a cool bike. Tell me what that is. And then people say, oh I’ll give you a clue. I can’t walk because I’ve got MS. And but we’re already talking because the Alinker, I started thinking about developing the Alinker when my mother said over my dead body will I ever use one of those things pointing at mobility aids, and that made me aware of that mobility aids emphasize the disability. And with that, because we’re uncomfortable around disabilities, I think we’re uncomfortable with our own mortality. And by extension, disabilities, what it made me aware of is that it creates a divide between people with and without disabilities in a social divide. And that, to me is an issue of justice. And so the Alinker quite quickly with that comment of my mom became a justice issue to approach in different ways like, Why can I go as a temporary, able bodied person? Why can I go to the bike shop and get the coolest bike I want? And the moment I have a disability, there’s nothing cool available for me. Why? Why is that? And so I set out to make something so damn cool that people would love to use it, and that you’re the one on the cool bike and it bridges the divide between people with and without disabilities. That’s the short of it, Loren.
Loren Walsh 4:23
I know we could talk all day because you’ve, you’ve come up with so many amazing ways to get the Alinker into the hands of people who need them. And we’ve talked a lot about when we first worked together around the sick care system, and how important it is to enable this amazing device and really liberating process for those that need it. And I want to go back to something you said that it really changed your life having the funds be made available by Coralus formerly SheEO. And we’re celebrating not only 10 years of incorporation for you, but also the fact that you’ve paid off your loan in five years, it’s been a repayment process. And in addition to the financial support, how hass the community and the ecosystem impacted? The trajectory of the linker in your and your company,
BE Alink 5:14
Changed everything. And there’s there’s actual examples. But what I think really changed is and to say that in a very short summary, sort of an abstract summary, is my life change from having to enter boardrooms with white guys telling me that I needed to suffer a little bit harder, because it was a little bit too much risk for them to being surrounded by hundreds and now 1000s of women saying like, we selected you, we believe in you. We want you to be successful. What do you need. And I remember I recall the moment that Vicki called me that I had become one of the five ventures and it happened to be on my birthday. So it’s six years ago, on my birthday, she called me the end of January. And she said BE you’ve been selected one of the five, you’re one of the finalists, and I just broke down in tears. At that moment, I was in a little garden suite, II didn’t open the blinds anymore, I didn’t want to wake up. I was an antidepressant and use a lot too much alcohol to not feel as much as I was feeling because it was not nice feelings. The tenacity and ridiculous resilience it takes to create something like this, especially as a woman in a technical field times that I’ve had white guys still and I say white guys, because they always have been white guys. So it’s kind of factorable. Guys say like, maybe you should hire a real engineer. Literally, that has happened. And not once.
Loren Walsh 6:54
I’m honestly not surprised, unfortunately.
BE Alink 6:56
Yeah, you know, the times that you’re treated as a little hobby. Oh, it’s so cute what you’re doing. It’s not cute, it can change his lives. And I don’t like the word passion, because we’re not voluntary workers. And we’re not doing things out of passion. Because we don’t have a business sense, we actually create businesses that help contribute to a bit of a healthier world for all of us. Because that makes sense in a business place. Businesses are better when they are better for people and better for the world. And the fact that the unicorn, ridiculous world of men going after millions and 10-20 times returns, is really a ridiculous system that only makes allows people to take money to take millions or billions over the back of people that are suffering at the other end of where the millions are made. Because somebody pays for somebody to make millions of dollars.
Loren Walsh 8:04
Well you raise a really important point and and in what you’re doing, and anyone can take a look at your website, you have a very holistic business taking place. And I think it’s appropriate that as your funds were paid back, the money got reinvested into the fund, and loaned out again to new ventures. So in addition to the new activators coming in, or existing activators supporting, it was actually in the payback model that you were you were actually building a fund that was part of this completely new financial ecosystem. And we’re curious as to how does it feel that you are part of this perpetual fund now that is available to other ventures at a 3%, which is a very fair rate of interest for a year. I mean, you’ve contributed now to the fund.
BE Alink 8:55
Well, and we’ve benefited from the fund, I should say, because we haven’t just paid back the loan in 20 equal installments over the five years since we became a SheEO Venture or Coralus Venture now, we also got a loan of $200,000 in the last year from exactly that fund. That allowed us to do some more bridging with Taiwan because supply chains in the pandemic were completely shot. But I always talk about money as nutrients. Money is nutrients and nutrients need to go there where they’re needed. A body can’t do without nutrients and nutrients can’t do without body and the body is the purpose. And so people that just make or took millions and billions need purpose for their money. That’s why they call themselves impact investors because they know they need to contribute something back to the world that makes the world a little bit more kind. Yes, the problem is that control over the nutrients is the strings attatched that are very often detrimental for the ones that need to nutrients. And this is something with Coralus. That is, it’s crucial that there’s no strings attached. Other than that it keeps on paying. And you’re keep on being part of an ecosystem that feeds forward that is not based on one is the winner and gets it all. It’s based on, we can all be winners, if we’re will provide it with the balance of purpose and the nutrients that that purpose needs to become a successful business and successful the definition of successful than being a business that is a tool and force for good to contribute to a world that is healthier for more of us. Because the systems that we live in, are extractive systems that are only based on making money for a few, just follow the money. You see what’s happening to food industry feeds to pharma industry feeds to war industry in the war industry determines all the fossil fuels and local economies. That’s detrimental. And it’s not sustainable, as we all know.
Loren Walsh 11:09
And you have created a B Corp really, so much of what you’re doing is creating the world that we want to live in with dignity, mobility, and certainly a sense of beautiful design, which I absolutely love the Alinker from that perspective as well. So over the years that you’ve been involved in the Coralus community, can you share some moments that really stuck with you or connections that you have now, that are still going strong today?
BE Alink 11:36
Well, one very important one. And Vicki always makes a comment about that. It’s quite funny, because the moment I became SheEO venture, and came to the event where we were announced in Toronto.
Loren Walsh 11:49
The summit, yes.
BE Alink 11:50
The summit, yeah, I pretty much moved in with Vicki and Richard and, and started traveling with Vicki. I remember right, and that went to all the SheEO events and activities, I traveled a whole year with Vicki. In retrospect, Vicki always says, you moved in, you changed my life, and you never asked. And that connection still goes really strong. I mean, we’ve become very dear friends, it is very hard to find people that can think in a systemic way, and can see the bigger picture of the world that we live in. We’re so brain washed to focus on problems that we’re now fixing. But by fixing the problems, if we identify them as problems, we missed the point that they’re actually symptoms of a system that is not designed for us. So as long as we continue to fix the problems, we’re perpetuating the systems that kill us. There’s very few people that have the clarity and the more systemic view on the world like, Oh, this is not a problem to fix. We just need to create systems that are based on humanity and are based on like, equality, respect for all human beings, respect for all living beings. How do we create a world that is a little bit kinder, not just for the planet, we’re not in a climate crisis, I always say, this is not a problem to fix. We’re in existential crisis. And as long as we deny the fact that we’re dying, denied the fact that we’re mortal creatures. We keep chasing after a climate crisis. That is not a crisis. We’re in an existential crisis. And we really need to start feeling that. And so Vicki is one of those people, one of those rare people that doesn’t think I’m crazy. That’s rare, because many people think I’m completely nuts, which is probably true in their mind, but it says more about them than about me. But So Vicki, and I really came together and started fueling each other’s visions. And so I’ve grown a lot and and Vicki says, like she changed my life, you never asked by moving in. That is one of the things that still go strong. And that’s that’s paramount to the whole SheEO experience. And it doesn’t just hinge on, on Vicki. I mean, there’s been people that, I mean, we’ve got four SheEO investors into the Alinker that are beyond the initial loan that we got people that really like what we’re doing. We’ve got a SheEO activator, who’s a Director on our board. We’ve got a lot of people that we drew suggestions from that we asked for feedback that we asked for support. There’s many activators that have contributed to the crowdfunding campaigns that we deal with people and 221 campaigns have completed to date. For anybody who doesn’t know the linker is not a super cheap device. yet it’s not a medical device. So I see it as our responsibility to make mobility accessible for the people that have been driven into poverty campaigns is a way it is an integrated platform that people can do their campaigns. And 221 people that could never afford the linker, have now on the Alinker and have life changing experiences plus the community that they’re part of, in many cases that is at least as important as the Alinker itself.
Loren Walsh 15:31
Absolutely. And so BE, what would you want to say to any potentially any venture or individual who’s thinking about doing something audacious from a systemic perspective, and maybe people have said that they were crazy. Any last thoughts on those listening today, and they may be wanting to bring something new to the world from the perspective of the vision rather than solving a problem?
BE Alink 15:59
Well be audacious. And if people give you advice, I always wonder, like, do I want to be like them? No. Why would I take their advice? Take advice from people that you trust that you admire, that you strive to be like them. So like aim high. Go crazy, because the more people call you crazy, the more you’re onto something. I mean, I’m not the first one saying that, but be audacious. And really, don’t listen to naysayers. Follow your own vision. It might take longer, it does take longer if you just go on vision, and partnerships, be in partnership with people don’t just sign contracts, actually be present to build partnerships and friendships because that makes you a resilient company. And the SheEO network is filled with people that are willing to contribute to see you to acknowledge you to help you to support you to finance you to connect you with other people. It’s it’s changed saved my life.
Loren Walsh 17:05
Thank you, BE.
BE Alink 17:06
You’re very welcome.
Loren Walsh 17:07
Great to connect and hear your wisdom today.
BE Alink 17:10
Danielle Cadhit 17:14
Thank you for listening to the ripples of radical generosity podcast. Let us know what you thought of the episode and share this podcast with your friends. We invite you to join a global community of radically generous women and non binary folks at www dot Coralus dot worlds
Transcribed by https://otter.ai