Operating from a Good Place: The Making of a Social Venture

Operating from a Good Place: The Making of a Social Venture
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    In low-resource settings, surgeons use their money to buy things like blood and beds and sheets
    Stuff that's non-negotiable.
    As a result, they end up compromising on the tools.
    We see them often resort to using an off-the-shelf hardware store drill.
    And actually, functionally, it's about the same as a surgical drill.
    So you can get off-the-shelf drills that run at the same speeds and torques
    as a $30,000 drill.
    But the problem comes in with sterility.
    An off-the-shelf drill isn't designed to be sterilized.
    Surgeons around the world were trying to cover them using something to wrap around the drill
    like a towel or something like that.
    All these practices are kind of interruptive for surgery
    and in some cases dangerous.
    So our team developed a drill cover that can be sterilized.
    With the drill cover, they could use an affordable off-the-shelf drill
    in a safe way for orthopedic surgery.
    I take the drill cover, and tuck my fingers under
    so I won't be exposed to the non-sterile drill
    And then Mike, in this case, the non-sterile nurse
    would insert the drill in the cover.
    Roll it three times.
    Click the buckle.
    And then, I insert the chuck.
    Insert the drill bit.
    Tighten it with the chuck key.
    And now, the drill is ready for use.
    Our motto is "surgical equipment for all"
    and the reason we focus on this is because
    the medical device industry is developing devices with a focus on high-resource countries
    and really, that's not the majority of patients in the world.
    We don't want to develop something that isn't going to have impact in their surgical environment.
    We don't want to tell them what we think they need,
    we want them to tell us what they need
    and we want to design with those requirements in mind.
    I find that it really motivates me to be working where I can judge the success of our company
    by it's financial health but also by the amount of impact that we are having.
    As a social enterprise, we don't ignore the financial side of things
    it's just that we demand something more from our work
    and what we demand is more safe surgery in the world
    for patients who don't have access to it.
    At UBC, we got a crash course in entrepreneurship which was really great.
    We were taught to take off our engineering hat and put on our business hat
    but after the course where you're being pushed really hard
    you need to do it on your own.
    We're trying to get to the end of the "valley of death"
    where a lot of startups have a really hard time moving forward.
    You try not to think about it, but at the same time,
    when you do think about it, it keeps you motivated.
    I feel accountable to those surgeons.
    I don't want surgical drill availability to be the bottleneck
    in restricting the amount of patients that they can treat.
    The way that I can affect change in that situation
    is by designing better tools that meet their needs, affordably.
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