Lessons From Slingshot

As I was accompanying my wife on her confinement (or Co-Finement Journey, as I called it), I strategically utilised the Netflix free month trial. One of the films I watched was called Slingshot and it chronicled the work of inventor, Dean Kamen on his journey of creating a water purifying machine for third world countries. as well as insights to his personal life.

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What stuck me as I was watching is this film highlights quite a few challenges which technology “hackers” face when pushing technological solutions. Here are some lessons I learnt;

Why Project Slingshot? Dean explains that he remembers the story of David & Goliath. David used the technology of the slingshot to defeat Goliath.

The approach of asking the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies companies to help in moving his SlingShot Water Purifiers to provide safe water was hindered by their lack of interest and maybe even profit (?). However, he found an unlikely partner in Coca Cola. With which, he had to exchange his R&D for their soda fountains before they helped Dean much out the SlingShot Water Purifiers.

In deploying his SlingShot Water Purifiers, Dean said that to reach the 206 countries in the world, you would probably need 206 different strategies, each customised & localised to the different social, economical and government landscape of the country.

Hearing how Dean made a commitment to continue to stay curious and have that wonder of a child.

The description of solving problems created by our dimension with thinking from another perspective and dimension. This was illustrated by his experience with the medical device companies in creating the portable dialysis machine.

The example of Alexander Graham Bell trying to get Western Union to adopt his telephone idea. But their reply was that it was a nice novelty device and what use would it be for business? That’s when Bell had to take on the journey of an entrepreneur from an inventor to push his technology into the market. That’s the beginnings of Bell Communications.

The example of the aeroplane. No one at Kitty Hawk would imagine how the contraption built by the Wright brothers would revolutionise the way we travel with airlines, airports and even leading us to imagine the next step – space.

This is a great movie with lots of lessons for the technology entrepreneur. What lessons did you pickout from watching it?

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