Tonight's post is a business update. I thought it might be a nice change of pace.
Throughout 2018, there was a rush to work toward getting Shift Sight investor-ready. This meant reduced effort on the technical end and more focus on glamour. As we discussed our startup with firm after firm, it became clear that our business model was not aligned to ravage-the-planet-for-cash conventional investors. (As it turns out, we're a Zebra!) Impact investors were the only remaining choice for substantial capital.
Impact investors are few and far between, and tend to focus their effort on social entrepreneurs (double bottom line, or 2BL). Shift Sight is 3BL and very closely aligned to ecosocialism. With our limited resources and time, we were unable to secure an impact investor that wanted to share in our important cause.
With great irony, the conventional investor's fear of losing money should be the last thing on their mind: they should be afraid of the fact that they cannot eat that money. Polluted air and contaminated water, byproducts of focusing on a single-bottom-line, does not result in healthy communities or individuals.
As the public grows increasingly concerned about unaddressed issues, we decided it would be best to shift our focus to preparing for a public fundraiser via equity crowdfunding. The idea is that you will fuel us and can share in our success.
To that end, we started refining Jade's 3D models and renderings. A technical preview was offered in mid-2018, with blog posts sharing more and more detail. Provisional patents were filed. The Jade PC-based simulator (for engineering work) also had some aesthetic updates: it provided screen animations for videos under development.
In the end, we ran out of time and money, and we were forced to relocate.
Although the conventional wisdom is not to mix business with your personal life, the two are inseparable in a startup. If I am ill for a day, the progress of the startup slows accordingly. If we run out of money, some things come to a halt.
Without material support, the Founders have been forced to sideline most of the Shift Sight work to care for our family.
However, we are at anything but full stop. Time is precious, and our planet may not have much left when you contrast the IPCC report against the lead time required for Jade to get into many hands.
Keeping the blog current is foremost. The media tends to outweigh and sensationalize the benefits of new technology without so much as a mention of its unsustainability or damage to well-being. Outside of academia, Shift Sight is only one of a handful of voices opposing tech-for-the-sake-of-tech.
Currently, we have two machines running around the clock rendering video for our upcoming fundraiser. Metrics are being collected from these renderings to determine where 3D model optimization will yield the greatest benefit: rendering takes time, and with limited resources, we need to make every minute count once we have finalized models.
We intend to release production-quality videos that show you what Jade is about. There are currently four private videos on YouTube that have been shown to a select group of people; their comments and feedback suggest that we are going to nail it.
On the technical end, I have been brainstorming on how to automate some of the model rigging. The hope is to speed the model refinement with the automation and speed the rendering through the optimizations.
Carrier Board design has officially commenced. You have probably realized that our 3D model of Whisper is a mockup rather than a carefully routed PC board. I have refined our toolchain to automatically create 3D models from the PC board design that is underway. Renderings are about to get very real since their base files can be manufactured.
I find myself questioning the value of executing our provisional patents. I originally filed them out of concern that low-cost, non-durable knockoffs would arrive and wanted to have a legal means to prevent the corresponding environmental damage. I also wanted to demonstrate to investors that we have unique IP.
At this point, it appears unlikely that anyone would copy Jade: although we will be profitable, our business model and product is incompatible with capitalism; reproducing the Jade experience requires cost-prohibitive hardware; pieces of the firmware are yet to be invented, and there is not a job description that could be written for this task.
For the next five years, the cost of these patents will run around $300,000. With finite capital, that is a high price to pay for unclear benefits. If I had to choose between paying for patents or paying someone to have meaningful work with livable wages, I would choose the latter.
As we are still bootstrapping, I also struggle with the initial costs of execution. Without investors to please, I also question the need for them: if our shared goal is to make e-waste obsolete, and another business can use Shift Sight IP to advance that goal, holding patents seems fruitless.
Lastly, the Shift Sight e-book is underway. It contains material from this blog, never-before-seen commentary on technology and society, and also personal stories from our founders that tie it all together. Without Jade on the market, a book seems to be the most pragmatic way to support our family and spread the word about the need for technological sustainability.
The book will be released on a "pay what you can" model. It is our belief that financial barriers are the source of many injustices. Knowledge should be freely shared!
As a Teal organization, Shift Sight's operation does not require weeks spent on forecasting and schedules. They never match how life unfolds anyway. Our financial model is based on a range of statistical probabilities for many events; the software powering our business model needs to evolve to support this for events as well.
Without outside investments, our rough business schedule posted on this website is now largely inaccurate. Once we are closer to launching our equity fundraiser, we will also revise and post financials and schedule reflecting the spectrum of known probabilities.
Ultimately, we try to make the most out of every day to get Shift Sight off the ground. Even without a crystal ball, it is clear that sustainable electronics are much-needed to keep our planet inhabitable.
See you next week!
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.