You can’t stop the wave, but you can learn to surf
Three months ago, TheSocialMedwork took a step back to look forward, a day to reflect and grow our startup strategy. If we asked our team that day to envision the next three months, no one would have foreseen the waves we made.
The key to being a successful startup
The art of being a successful startup, or success in general, is often compared to the clichéd analogy of “catching the wave.” Sounds inspiring and somewhat attainable, but if you have never graced a surfboard before, you should know right now how notoriously hard this can be:
An eager novice first gets suited up in the sun, hoping one resembles Patrick Swayze in Point Break, and a sense of “being” begins to take over and a determination to become “one with nature.” But as you begin to paddle out, the first pangs of anxiety and fear hit, and all notions of heroic talent quickly dissipate with the first crash of saltwater in your face and a blow of fibreglass to the head.
Catching the wave
Of course, surfing is about catching that wave, but that’s not possible without having certain measures in place such as conditioning, watching and timing. Preparation is key. You must be watchful, knowing when to act, knowing what works and what doesn’t. It’s also a balancing act, placing yourself in the right position at the right time, working with forces like gravity and buoyancy, so if any external force comes your way, you’re grounded. You prepare for it, watch it, time it, and you ride it.
It’s like when Reed Hasting was frustrated with Blockbuster late fees back in 1997, leading to the creation of Netflix, transforming our Friday movie nights forever. Uber did it too when finding a taxi on a Saturday night was like a maze challenge with perplexing fare controls, as did Amazon. These platforms were true disrupters, but it wasn’t their technology that ended how we shopped or travelled, it was knowing what customers truly needed, being prepared for a changing market, and taking that jump when the time was right.
But it takes a good mentor to ensure all preparations are in place, and a great team to take action. Which is exactly what our CEO and co-founder Sjaak Vink, and COO Katrin Schepp did. The last three months have been about preparing, listening, watching and positioning. We strategically positioned ourselves to help and inform as many patients as possible across the globe to access innovative medicines. And our success was particularly evident following the FDA approval of edaravone in the US for the treatment of ALS.
Reaching every ocean
Back in April, we knew we had a challenge ahead, the pathway to access medicines can be a rocky and complex one. So in the midst of summer, it was only fitting that we spent our second reflection day of the year at the sea (TheSocialMedwork loves water). And with a great team effort, understanding the currents, and positioning ourselves in the right place at the right time, we surfed that wave. We have now supported requests from over 100 countries, successfully delivered over 600 units of medications, across six continents. We have extended our family to create a strong and proud team, full of multidisciplinary skills, languages, cultures, not to mention the cuisine fusion at lunchtimes!
So while catching a wave is a cliché, knowing what it truly means can ensure our continued efforts in helping patients around the world. We’ve successfully learned the techniques, but we will continue to learn and be prepared to ensure we can catch the next wave again and again, and that’s the real challenge.
But as they say, life’s a wave, go catch it.