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Mike Brown draws parallels between exploration and business more than most.

The Christchurch business entrepreneur, sportsman, and keen adventurer was paralysed after an accident five years ago. He now runs Adaptdefy, a company delivering innovative inventions to make life easier for wheelchair users.

Brown says exploration defines the spirit of Christchurch, both in the city’s identity, and in its approach to business and progress.

There is nowhere quite like Christchurch, he says, to launch a business and get pick up for new ideas that ignite ambition and challenge the status quo.

“Christchurch to me is the starting point for expeditions. It’s got so much cultural heritage around exploration, and personally I resonated with that”

Mike Brown - Adaptdefy

“Christchurch to me is the starting point for expeditions. It’s got so much cultural heritage around exploration, and personally I resonated with that,” he says.

Brown lived a hugely adventurous life before his accident, something he now credits with navigating the world of business. He sailed the Pacific Ocean with his wife Kirstin and a new-born baby, spent days hanging from cliffs on the other side of the world, and searched the world’s coastlines for unexplored surf breaks.

He continues to explore ways to satisfy his pioneering spirit, from flying down the Port Hills in a four-wheel cycle, sit-skiing the Southern Alp, and launching ground-breaking businesses from his home base in Christchurch.

“If I went back a couple of hundred years, I would’ve been one of the guys breaking trail over to the West Coast,” he says.

“Now with my business explorations, it seemed a natural fit to be here in Christchurch. I get the sense throughout the community that there is this pioneering spirit here.”

Adaptdefy launched their first to-market product in 2019 – the Lap-Stacker. Designed to hold any items to a wheelchair-user’s lap, Brown says the invention is simple and decreases a person’s feeling of disability.

The lessons he learnt during physical adventure help him to tackle business challenges every day.

“There’s definitely a parallel between forging a route up a mountain and forging a path in business. It’s persistence, it’s not giving up, it’s finding a way through obstacles, one after the other, and maintaining optimism that you are going to find a way through.

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