We have survived another year. In my case, I mean this literally as I spent ten days in March on a ventilator as a result of Covid. Instead of focusing on our challenges, I will focus on the remarkable things I learned in 2020.
First, a personal note. Not all health care is created equally. As I described in detail in a blog post and a YouTube video, I was intubated at a community hospital and then moved by ambulance while on a ventilator to a world-class teaching hospital. In March, little was know about the best way to treat Covid. In some locations, 70% or more of the patients placed on ventilators were dying. At the teaching hospital, under 3% were dying. I benefited from excellent care because I have friends who have both the expertise and connections to access optimal care. Not everyone is this lucky. While I have no solution to this health care divide, I believe the first step towards providing excellent health care for everyone is recognizing the divide and caring about closing this gap.
The barriers to entry in media and technology continue to fall. Let me point out a couple of examples:
One of my granddaughters, Gila, is taking computer programming in high school. To an old guy like me, that in itself is remarkable. The laptop she uses for school is a Macbook, and her class uses Microsoft Access, which does not run on a Macbook, to learn about databases. We thought about buying an inexpensive Windows Laptop for the family, but that seemed like a waste of money, and my experience is that low-end Windows machines run quite slowly. Instead, I turned to Amazon AWS.
Amazon Lightsail running on AWS supports creating virtual "Windows Machines" for as little as $8 a month. I was a big spender and set up a virtual desktop with a bit more memory for $12 a month. We installed Microsoft Remote Desktop from the Apple App Store on her laptop, and I installed Microsoft Access using my Microsoft 365 Home license. This solution works great and also provides an easy way for me to help Gila with her homework.
The ramifications of this cloud technology are significant. Now, any developer who needs to test a solution on multiple operating systems or computer configurations can easily do their testing for just a few dollars a month. Layered on top of the ability to deploy powerful servers on AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud for just a couple of dollars more means anyone with programming ideas should be able to try it out within their budget. Contrast this with my experience 30 years ago when I started a software company and needed to spend tens of thousands of dollars before writing my first line of code.
Over the past year, the DrVAX YouTube channel grew to over 30,000 subscribers, with over 2 million video views generating thousands of dollars of revenue a month. Now let's not get carried away. I am still a long way from generating income from the channel above the poverty rate. What is remarkable is that the YouTube platform I am using is completely free.
I anticipate reaching a respectable income level as an "influencer" in the next 12 to 18 months. We have learned social media's power in many different forms over the past four years as political leaders used it to distribute their messages. Unlike traditional media, such as television and print, many social channels are free to content providers breaking down another barrier to entry for new entrepreneurs.
The elimination of barriers for entrepreneurs continues. Consider the costs of developing and prototyping a new product. Not too long ago, if you wanted to produce a product after designing it, you would hire an engineer to create detailed plans. You then send the plans to a prototyping firm, and thousands or tens of thousands of dollars later, you receive a prototype. After multiple rounds of expensive prototypes, you would contract for the manufacturing of the product.
If you tried to create the prototype yourself, you would find it challenging to source the supplies you needed. Today this has all changed. Today you can find most of the components you need for mechanical or electronic prototypes on the Internet, with shipping often available for free. From single board computers for just a couple of dollars to bearings, rods, and aluminum extrusions, parts are available in days. If you need something custom, you can often use 3d printing to produce the components for a fraction of the cost of custom machined components.
There has never been a better time to become a manufacturer, a software developer, or a media producer. Our creativity and not our capital now limit innovation.
I started the DrVAX YouTube channel to promote innovation by teaching regular people how to leverage technology to make things, create things, manufacture items. Start making today, and let's continue to learn together.