What would you do when faced with the following tweet; “Anyone interested in investing $500-$1000 in a project which is awesome & a world tweet me. Need about 20 participants… #startup”.
I, like 39 other adventurous innovators, saw that this was not a usual request and sensed that this could be a very special startup. While the #SuperAwesomeMicroProject or #SAMPis another YouTube video of a LEGO creation, it’s what’s “under the hood” that is different. It is a full-size and functioning LEGO car that runs only on air, as well as being entirely crowd-funded on the back of a single tweet.
Here is the video of the car in action. http://www.superawesomemicroproject.com/
This is not a hobbyist’s project; all the patrons are successful professionals and business owners who know that talent and great ideas are only just the start of successful innovation. Tired of the dinky gadgets and apps that have all but taken over the innovation space, the patrons wanted to return to the classic “moon-shot” project, innovation to make impossible possible. Each of us put up $500 (some added more as the project required) and were clearly advised that the project may fail. That notwithstanding, all 40 patrons wanted to be involved in this truly one-off project.
There are many countries in the world that are full of bright innovators but lack the wealth of western economies (like America and Australia) to get started. These people, now armed with internet-enabled devices, know that they are capable of reaching the world and can do awesome things. In our case, it was a young Romanian bloke named Raul Oaida (@rauloaida) whose chance encounter via Skype with Melbourne based entrepreneur Steve Sammartino (@sammartino) started the project rolling. The first YouTube hit (http://youtu.be/bluQ4eOeBwo) got attention world-wide, and their jet-propelled push-bike (http://youtu.be/s_sfBUossO8) turned many heads in Raul’s home town of Deva - but that was just the beginning. Raul has a ton of endeavour and creativity, but Romania is very limited by the resources available. He did have LEGO, not just access to the bricks but also the LEGO Designer software. To achieve his dream of becoming an engineer, Raul had to turn this toy brick into the foundations of his machines - hence the SAMP-CAR.
The project has almost gone off the rails more than once. While originally scoped as a three month project, it ended up taking 15 months to complete, including shipping the vehicle from Deva to Melbourne, Australia. It is already getting some exposure in Australia (http://www.bandt.com.au/news/digital/melbourne-s-sammartino-and-romanian-teen-create-ai) but we expect that the new video will resonate with anyone that has a big idea and limited funding. I hope that this story can keep the dream in you alive. Enjoy