Sharp Shape’s Value
A unique business model has built Sharp Shape. Sharp Shape, a technology company located in Silicon Valley, has been innovating in the orthotic automation field for 23 years without capital and funds from investors. In the tech world, you almost always need funds, and your business becomes either a tycoon or a martyr in several years. Sharp Shape is neither of them. We think differently: we rely on the time that we spent in our business. We had a plan: we make $1 profit in the first year, and make $2 the second year, $4 the third, $8 the next…… At the 25th year, we could make more than 16 million (224) dollars. Although we are far short of that, it has been our strong will that leads our way until today. If profits are too short, other businesses quit. We love what we do and we believe what we are doing is beneficial to our customers. To build a tall monument, assume one either needs 30 people and spends 2 years, or needs 2 people and spends 30 years. We believe the latter and we strive for it, no matter how strong the competition is. Our business model may not work for everyone, but it works, especially in a small industry or a niche market. AOMS is a living and proven example.
Sharp Shape has created a famous CAD/CAM software called AOMS® and it has been registered for trademark. The most valuable assets that Sharp Shape has are the big number of AOMS orthotic labs and the long history in the field of automation of the foot orthotic manufacturing process. By estimates, tens of millions of orthotics have been produced from these systems. If you have ever received a pair of custom foot orthotics in the United States in the past 23 years, we are very confident that the pair was most likely made from one of the Sharp Shape AOMS systems, no matter it is a pair of rigid polypropylene orthotics, or a pair of soft EVA insole.
The first generation of the AOMS software has lasted for more than 20 years. The second generation of the AOMS software has come to the door way to be release. The new software inherited the simplicity of the first generation and improved the curves. While our foot scanners are in constant need, the new scanner designs are on the blue print. This is an endless journey to a better and cheaper product. Our current AOMS TOT is an example of such journey.
Challenges that Sharp Shape Faces
Although our business model helped us survived the first brutal several years in business and led us to be a dominating player in the field, we cannot sustain the continuing growth. Customers need better products, lower prices, and tech support. Many times, we have to put them on hold. "Supply cannot satisfy demand" are the words to describe the challenges. The business infrastructure does not fit the increasing number of customers and scanners that we support. We are constantly busy, but still we cannot satisfy the needs. At no time we are able to build enough scanners on the shelf for orders. The scanners have to be ordered first and then built at a later date. A long list of R&D is still on the table waiting for us to make these dreams to come true.
Looking for Solutions
We need to improve our business model or need reform. We deeply believe with the large number of customers we have and with the larger number of orthotics being made every day from our systems, there are ways to be very profitable in this business. The fact that some publicly traded companies joined the race in this field in recent years is a proof. We constantly search for brighter future for Sharp Shape and for our customers. If you are interested in investing the future of Sharp Shape, please contact us. Please send us your business background information for consideration.
In the tech world, a 23-year old business is considered a well grown man and IBM is considered a "supercentenarian." With enough capital (funding) and the right product, a company can grow rapidly, like on steroids. Several famous companies, like Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook grew rapidly, right under our nose in Silicon Valley in the past ten years. These teenagers are the backbones of the tech-body today. If the condition is right, we would like to have a reasonable/vigorous growth, which is good both for our customers and for ourselves. Everyone has two feet and we believe in the market.
Meet One of the Founders – Dr. Alex Y. Shang
I met Mr. Culbertson, Associate Administrator for Policy and Planning, from NASA in Beijing at the “Pacific Basin International Symposium on Advances in Space Science and Technology and Its Applications” in 1987. At that time I was a PhD candidate and I presented a paper in the symposium. Inspired by Mr. Culbertson, I started looking for challenging positions around the world. Through many applications, I was invited by Arizona State University (ASU) and Helsinki University of Technology. I finally decided to go to ASU and went there.
Without citizenship, it was impossible for me to find a job in space industry at that time, because of the security clearance rules in the United States. I quit my previous career and co-established Sharp Shape in the field of automation of the foot orthotic manufacturing process. The poster of “Space Technology Is Under Foot” is a statement I made at the beginning of the business. It was dreadful to leave the space industry, but it was also an exciting moment to enter a new field. It is not too bad though, since we have many, many more feet than satellites to take care of. Since then, they take care of satellites in space and we take care of feet on the ground.
“I. love. this. company.” - Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, on stage, dancing, shouting, and with tears in his eyes (2000). I do too: I love Sharp Shape since it is the one and only company I had in my life. I will make it as spectacular as I could and I will protect it as I protect a baby. There are differences: They do this for their share-holders, while we do this for our passion. It is not just the income that attracts us; it is the passion. The fact that Sharp Shape’s AOMS has touched so many lives (tens of millions at least) in the United States and abroad so far is an achievement.
The above photo serves as an iconic motto. It emphasizes foot, orthotic and shoe, on which our business is based. People behind the foot, orthotic and shoe are the driving force of the business.
We are very proud, because our competitors are super giants in the CAD/CAM industry. We did not realize what we did was so great until they came to the same field. We had co-existed with them for 8 years or so before they finally moved out of this business. Tough competition made us tougher and healthy competition helped us in making better products and providing better services.
In the past, more than 80 systems out there were set up by a PhD. It is a tough job. Once an order is placed, it will be filled no matter rain or shine or hail, well or sick. It is a slow process since we have to set up the AOMS systems one at a time. Sharp Shape will continue its success.