I was on my way to a meeting yesterday when I saw Chris, Gil and Matt headed to lunch. They are the co-founders of Clean Hands Safe Hands at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech. All in their thirties, well educated, a band of brothers with confident enthusiasm. I know the sacrifices they are making both personally and financially. One putting his career of surgeon on hold and the other two risking their personal lives and reputations a second time around.
One is a first timer, and the other two are experienced in startups. In fact, in the last five years, they helped build a company which successfully exited. Now they are aiming to do it again.
Clean Hands Safe Hands manufactures and sells a hand hygiene solution to the high risk infectious disease units in hospitals. These are the dispensers hanging on the wall in every hospital room whose purpose is to eliminate infections. Nurses and doctors are supposed to use them every time they walk into a room.
It doesn’t happen, and it costs the patients and hospitals dearly, particularly in specialty areas like bone-marrow transplant units. Clean Hands dispensers are connected to a central monitoring system which helps hospitals improve compliance for staff and visitors.
Chris came to me six months ago. He is a PhD of Georgia Tech and is just about to finish Medical School. He is on his way to being an orthopedic surgeon. With his future assured, he puts it all on hold for the challenge of making Clean Hands a valuable company. He knows he will improve the quality of life for hundreds as an orthopedic surgeon. If Clean Hands is successful, he will save thousands of lives. His choice is the high-risk road which promises the bigger societal impact.
Creating a New Reality
These men are headed into the uncertainty of making a new idea into a reality. Turning a vision into a reality. Developing an idea into a product which will impact many lives.
I know how difficult this is. I have been a participant and an up-close observer of this process over twenty times. Taking an idea and making it into a reality is nothing short of a miracle. This is what Chris, Gil and Matt are attempting. They are committed to beating the odds by taking on the entrenched market leaders who sell an inferior solution.
This is what it takes to make an idea into a multi-million dollar reality. This is why miracles are rare. But miracles do happen. Some of us have seen and celebrated the miracle of a successful startup. Not every day but every so often. I have only been a part of five miracles in my thirty years in startups. And I can tell you first hand, when they happen…it is a big deal.
I am so fortunate, we are so fortunate, to live in a country which enlivens this idealism. People all over the world have needs. I am surrounded by people at ATDC who believe they can satisfy those needs. Creativity plus capital combined with hard work is the ticket to success. They believe they will beat the odds, and I am right there with them.
Let’s go to lunch!