What Drives You

Yesterday, someone asked me what drove me. It’s a good question. Some people know from “birth” what drives them, for other people like me it takes longer. I can remember the day I realized what drove me. Let me tell you the story.

Back in 2007, we started Shapeways. I worked, nurtured and grew it for more than five years. I worked my ass off to build a platform which was manufacturing and shipping hundreds of thousands of products every month. We raised millions of dollars from reputable tier-1 venture firms. We had a team of talented people and we made countless thousands of people happy with making their ideas to come to life.

But none of that really drove me to do what I did.

One day, someone in the team sent around a link to Wikipedia. It was back in 2010 I think. Someone wrote an article on Shapeways on Wikipedia. It wasn’t any of us. The team was still small enough to quickly assess that it wasn’t anybody from our team.
The article described Shapeways and what we did. It wasn’t expansive, but written in clear, concise and authentic terms. In the sidebar, it listed the name of founders.

When I saw my name, I knew. I realized what drove me.

I created something which mattered enough to people and the world that it got an honorable mention on Wikipedia. It wasn’t a unicorn or changed the life of billions. It wasn’t a Nobel-prize worthy invention. But it mattered.

At that moment, I knew that my drive was to build things which matter to people and the world. That’s what motives me.