When we met Rus Wadia last year, we were instantly moved by his compelling story.
Rus’s company, Helping Hands Innovations, LLC (HHI), sells a patented product called Hangeroo: The Picture Hanging Guide, which is designed to make it easier than ever to hang wired picture frames and mirrors onto common picture hooks. Each Hangeroo is assembled by adults with special needs, and up to $1 of every sale is donated to INREACH, a Charlotte-based non-profit that provides support services to persons intellectual and developmental disabilities, like autism and Down syndrome.
Rus has had a charitable heart since childhood. Growing up as a Boy Scout in India, he participated in a variety of volunteer opportunities. He became aware at a young age how important it is to give back and offer help to people who are challenged, an awareness that has followed him into adulthood.
In addition to his desire to give back, he also learned about entrepreneurship from his parents. His mother, “endowed with a bold spirit and entrepreneurial aptitude”, pursued training as a teacher and opened her own kindergarten, which was successfully run for over 40 years.
“From an early age, she taught me to face life squarely and stay true to one’s mission,” Rus says of his mother.
Additionally, he frequently acted as an apprentice to his father who “had an inventive mind and a knack for coming up with simple solutions to everyday problems around the house.”
Of his father’s influence on him, Rus says, “It brought him real pleasure to be of service to others, and, before long, I began to follow in his footsteps.”
In 1984, Rus received his MBA from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, VA, and shortly after, he began working for a financial services company. While also pursuing his early career, Rus’s passion for philanthropy only grew through his work with community-based organizations like United Way. He continued giving a helping hand, always recognizing the value of “doing well by doing good” and living by the Boy Scout Promise “to help other people at all times.”
Years went by, and Rus married his wife, Farida, who shares the same charitable heart and beliefs. In 2011, the husband and wife team, guided by their experiences and learnings in life and work, started HHI. Referred to as their “philanthropic entrepreneurship”, HHI partners with INREACH to benefit the larger community and provide customers with a quality product to solve a common problem: hanging wired picture frames and mirrors on walls. It should come as no surprise that HHI’s mission and business philosophy mirror Rus’s own: “Do Well by Doing Good.”
Rus is mindful of the encouragement and support he has received on his entrepreneurial journey. He points to Jim Wilkerson, owner of Blackhawk Hardware located in Park Road Shopping Center, as the first retailer to believe in his product and agree to carry it in his iconic store. He counts Jim, also his business mentor, as one of his Guiding Lights. More recently, he has learned a great deal from Don Fisher and Ben Pelton, certified mentors at SCORE.
Last year, HHI was one of seven businesses selected to participate in Queen City Forward’s Impact3 program. This accelerator program is designed specifically for small enterprises that are committed to positive environmental and social impacts as part of their mission. Rus credits Impact3 and his program mentor, Ken Pulliam, for wide-ranging learnings. An example is the importance and value of good design. Rus was introduced to Leslie Kraemer, principal and owner of birdsong gregory, a Charlotte-based design and marketing firm. That connection resulted in an eye-catching new logo and product packaging for Hangeroo.
Rus was recently featured in the November 2016 edition of Inventors Digest.
Hangeroo is currently available for purchase at Amazon.com, WalMart.com, and selected local area retailers, and is suggested for anyone who hangs wired picture frames — from professionals and “do-it-yourselfers” to Realtors, who can give it to their clients as a unique and thoughtful housewarming gift. Visit their website (Hangeroo.com), like them on Facebook, and be sure to watch the video below to learn how to use Hangeroo and make your life easier!