This 3D printed bauble won’t save the world
Funding, Hyperbole, and Baubles
If you spend anytime on Medium or Linkedin or pretty much anywhere that people tell you about work stuff then you’ll read lots of startup stories.
It always seems so exciting, these stories of £million companies built in a basement solving huge massive critical problems.
Except many of them are not really are they.
Since Andiamo started “properly” in January to fix the many problems we’d seen in the NHS orthotics service, which serves 1.9 million users a year. Much of our time has been spent with other startups. Those startups have covered just about every industry you can think of from solving poor local government communication through to creating new kinds of headphones.
But regardless of what they’re doing they all pitch using the same word.
We’re solving MASSIVE PROBLEMS (just insert extra hyperbole on slides 2 and 3 to have a perfect pitch).
A strange thing happens when the society you live in has fixed most of the really big stuff. Our view of what a problem is changes dramatically from big stuff like public health, clean water, housing. To things that have incremental impact on our lives (you’re not going to live longer by having the latest Angry Birds but it might divert your attention for a bit).
This is because we have more leisure time and more money to spend on it. In turn more cash is attracted to fixing leisure “problems” or as I prefer to define them as “nuisances”.
20 years ago financial services sucked up all the super smart people. Now they’re all in startups building the next Facebook for purple goldfish or getting two random names and smashing them together “it’s Amazon meets Yo for internet enabled nose hair trimmers”.
Why the distinction? Because as a startup whether you like it or not you’re competing with all the other startups out there going after investment and talent. How do you compete with a startup that says it can make a return in three years when the problem and solution you’re working on might take 10 years?
This has resulted in much of the strange and frankly vacuous baubles that get funded.
We spend a crap load of money on baubles, it is actually a decent bet if you want to be rich. You’re rewarded for quick growth even if it is unsustainable and meaningless.
Fixing systemic health problems? Going after the true moon shots? Building a company to solve problems for the next 50 years? Not so much unless you’re already very rich or very lucky.
So the Andiamo team have got a choice now:
a) Change the problem we’re solving to a less important but more lucrative one
b) Give up and be glad we at least tried
c) Approach it the way we started Andiamo. Stop complaining and start fixing
We’re going with c because we’ve spoken to people all over the world that break down in tears when they tell us about their terrible experiences getting life changing equipment like back braces for their children.
The big problems aren’t going to be saved by baubles and a 5 minute attention span.
Let’s save the hyperbole and problem solving for the really big stuff.
Because there are millions of people that can’t even get access to basic healthcare let alone custom medical equipment.
Because as parents that lived this every day we will not allow this to continue.
Because healthcare is too important to stay the same.
The next step in that journey is with people like you. Soon we’ll be launching a crowd funding campaign to build our prototype orthotics service that uses 3D printing and scanning to reduce waiting times from months to a few days.
Help us change the world.
We’re not going to stop making it better.
3D printed bauble via This Little Mind