We headed out to the desert early last week with the same trepidation and nervous anticipation that most Vegas-goers seem to bear. But from a PR team that lives and breathes event-going, event-planning, and conference-content, we tend to arrive and pick up our badges with no expectations on the menu.
With this standard protocal, attendees, speakers, and even exhibitors tend to forfeit any blanket disappointment. What it doesn't hold insurance for however, is the potential of mind-blowing content that has (unbeknownst to you) been incubating in your own back yard.
#SXSWV2V is still quite green in it's second year of production. It's interest niche has long since been carved out by entrepreneurs across all creative industries. Some borrowed from SXSW Interactive as we've known it in Austin, and some looking to hop into the Downtown Project game while all of the OG players are still sizing up the batting order.
To be lucid about the biggest-bang-impression made on us this year, please imagine if you will, meeting us in attendance in Belmont 5, a convention hall nook in the infamous Cosmopolitan Las Vegas venue. Over the course of three days, Belmont 5 hosted several individuals, each experts in their own right, presenting their 20/20 Vision. We the attendees, were gifted 20 minutes of personal insight into what it's like being - well - inside each presenter's entreprenurial head.
Some used the brevity of form as a more introductory avenue, and kept things light, bright, and appealing to the community's shared funny bone. Others stood bravely and disclosed more personal narratives of their ventures (or adventures if you will), all the more bewitching in the quick blink of 20 minutes.
And one, Elliot Kotek of Not Impossible Labs, took 20 minutes to change our definition of impossible for the rest of our lives. Their mission statement says it all:
Remember when you were younger and the old tall people always asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? I said, "A movie star." These guys said, "Global and Moral Game Changers of Inconceivable Magnitude." I'd like to change my answer...
On April 25th, 2012, Time Magazine published an article by Alex Perry, detailing the account of 14-year-old Daniel Omar whose hands were blown off by a bomb dropped by the Sudanese government in an attack on rebel forces. Perry subtly revealed the story of Dr. Tom Catena, an American surgeon from Upstate New York who lives and works in Sudan's Nuba Mountain, and that saved Daniel Omar's life.
Perry ended the article with, "Ultimately, even for a surgeon who is, by now, most likely one of the world's most experienced amputators, there are things [Dr. Catena] can't fix. After a little more than a month, Daniel's arms have healed into neat, smooth stumps, with barely a scar. The same can't be said of his mind."
[CUT TO] a few months later when Mick Ebeling, co-founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs (...maybe between grabbing a local cup of Santa Monica's Dogtown Coffee, or perhaps taking a stroll in his Venice Beach hood...) reads Perry's article.
Next, (and this is where you cry our of sheer glee) in fall of last year, the Not Impossible team flew toward Sudan armed with 3D printers, filament and orthoplastic and in about one month, 16-year-old Daniel received a 3D printed arm, and fed himself for the first time in two years.
Coming off the success of creating The Eyewriter - one of Time Magazine's 'Top 50 Inventions of 2010' and Gizmodo's Health Invention of the Year, Not Impossible Labs is disrupting the story of healthcare. In four *easy (please read: *brilliant) steps:
And just in case any of the audience was only half listening at the end of that long day in Vegas after hours of panels, and speakers, and asprins, at least one takeaway was abundantly clear for any tech startups in any league...
Want to know how to attract investment? Focus on a problem.
Once you've solved it, what other problems does that success have a positive impact on? If you create a snowball effect of residual problem solving through a product or service, you're parenting a sustainable cycle of growth whether you are trying to enhance your business - or your life.
"...compelling others to action and, ultimately, making the impossible, possible."
Now, you may be reading this asking, "Ok, but how is my magnetic fanny back going to make the world a better place and push the limits of divine possibility?" Fair enough. And I can just as easily answer, "It probably won't." With the heart and the head of a doer, you're already a part of the sustainable cycle of collaboration propelling that which is - Not Impossible.
But, the prosthetic arm that Daniel received and Mick conceived, cost around $100 to produce, and can be printed in about six hours. Elliot closed out his pithy but potent stage time in Belmont 5 saying, "This is not something for someone else. This is something for everyone."
If you'd like to learn more about Not Impossible Labs, find out how you can get involved in submitting a cause, or join the team - click here. Contact
if you want to follow up on this piece for any reason. We'll see you in 2015 at #SXSWV2V whether you're the next big startup overcoming insurmountable healthcare issues and changing lives globally, or you just wanted to get a piña colada and play the slots by a wave pool for a change.