Printing Limbs, Printing Money

By Matthew Milner, on Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When Jeff Huber was an infant, his left leg was amputated below the knee.

He’d been born with a condition called fibular hemimelia.

Jeff’s 25-years-old now and wears a high-tech prosthesis on his left leg.

It cost him $23,000 – too expensive for many amputees, and not the type of delicate apparatus meant for a day at the beach.

Ever since college, Jeff’s been trying to create a low-cost version.

He failed and failed, over and over again.

Fixing this problem didn’t just become his goal…

It became his personal and professional mission.

Then, all of a sudden, he succeeded.

But his “overnight” success wasn’t related to his herculean efforts.

It was related to a secret that many entrepreneurs discover the hard way…

And that investors like you can discover right now.

Dangerous Problem

Before I reveal what this secret is, let me explain why Jeff’s been so eager to build an alternative prosthesis:

Modern prosthetic devices are constructed from strong, lightweight metals like carbon fiber – the same material used for Boeing’s Dreamliner – and contain sophisticated electronics.

These high-tech devices are expensive, but they offer amputees a major benefit: thanks to their low weight, it’s easier to operate the limb.

But there’s a downside: if the device comes into contact with water, it gets damaged.

At $23,000 a pop, it’s no wonder that amputees avoid getting them wet.

But without the prosthesis, basic tasks like taking a shower can be time-consuming…

In fact, because of the risk of slipping, basic tasks like showering can be dangerous.

Safety & Affordable Joy

Enter Jeff’s company, Standard Cyborg.

Taking advantage of an innovative new technology called 3D Printing, Standard Cyborg builds a customized prosthesis called a “Water Leg.”

It’s waterproof, dries in a flash, and has a non-slip sole.

Amputees can use the Water Leg to stand safely in the shower…

Or they can use it for more joyful activities that most of us take for granted – like running into the ocean, or jumping off a diving board.

But the best part?

Thanks to 3D Printing, Standard Cyborg can afford to sell it for just $499.

The Technology That Makes It Possible

3D printers look just like the desktop printer you have at work…

But instead of printing words on paper, they “print” objects – from sneakers to cars.

Chris Anderson, the former Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, says that 3D Printing will be “bigger than the Web.”

Other futurists believe it will spark the next industrial revolution.

For Standard Cyborg, after years of false starts, the revolution finally arrived…

And it allowed Jeff’s company to succeed.

The Secret to Jeff’s Success

You may be tempted to think that the secret to Jeff’s success is 3D printing.

But it’s actually more basic than that.

The secret to Jeff’s success is timing.

Let me explain…

One of the key questions Wayne and I try to answer when we’re evaluating a new investment opportunity is this:

“Why is right now the right time to launch a product like this?  Why didn’t this business exist several years ago?”

We understand that, unless there’s a clear catalyst for the business to exist right now, life is going to be tough for the start-up – and tough for its investors, too.

For example, could Zynga (maker of “social” games like Words with Friends) have taken off like a rocket without Facebook’s hundreds of millions of users?

Could professional network LinkedIn have caught on so quickly if Facebook hadn’t already made social networking an everyday activity?

On the flip side, when a company doesn’t have the right timing, success can be elusive.

For example, think about Jeff’s business:

His vision for his company hasn’t changed for years.  But before 3D Printing came along, Jeff didn’t have a way to build or sell a product at low enough cost.

Now Jeff can sell his product for just $499 – and he can use that initial product to gain entry into the market and then expand into other products.

Ready to Get Your Timing Right?

“Why now?” is a critical question we ask ourselves when we’re considering making an early-stage investment…

But there are many others.

To see some of the other important ways we evaluate start-up investments, check out our free white paper, The 10 Commandments of Crowdfund Investing >>

That’ll give you a useful framework for navigating this new world.

Or if you’re ready to get serious – if you want to learn everything you can about how to identify and evaluate the most promising deals –

Consider signing up for our premium education program, The Early-Stage Playbook.

It’s an online education program you can take at home, at your own pace.

You can learn more about the program here >> 

Best Regards,
Matthew Milner
Matthew Milner


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Tags: Facebook 3d Printing Zynga

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