Last month I skimmed through the book about Theranos, Bad Blood . An extraordinary story that led me to rethink how entrepreneurs blur the line between overselling, faking, and downright fraud. To preface, I don’t invest in medical device or hardware companies, and I don’t know much about it. However, I do understand one thing, it’s extremely difficult.
Holmes struggle to get a prototype to work in the early days stuck with me the most. The struggle wasn’t surprising, but rather how she faced a problem that I don’t often deal with in my line of work, the laws of physics. They are fundamentally part of creating hardware that can not be/disrupted/or/moved fast and broken/. Holmes was surrounded by these types of investors and operators (Larry Ellison for one) and clearly had that type of mindset steering the company.
To bring this back to my world, software companies all operate in world where there is no doubt that an application or product can be conceived. There are no physical realities limiting software. If you can dream it up, draw it on paper, and photoshop it into existence, that’s it. Building it is not a matter of if, but when. When will we get it done? Tomorrow, or next year, it’s only a matter of time.
This is why you can/fake it till you make it/in the software world. I’ve heard plenty of stories of entrepreneurs selling features, functionality, and products that did not exist yet.Its frankly encouraged to sell or validate things before they’re created, part of a lean startup mentality, and it works! Dropbox’s first demo was incredibly successful at validating a product they had yet to complete.
Because this practice works so well in the software world, Silicon Valley has pushed it into other categories. What you end up with is a medical device startup faking it just until they can actually make it, reach an impasse at the hands of the laws of physics, and ultimately resort to fraud survive.