Company: Spring Loaded Technology
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Industry: Health and Medical Devices
Size: Medium (> 100 employees)
“Our internal company dashboard has ‘Number of lives changed’ not ‘Number of braces sold’.”
– Chris Cowper-Smith
CEO, Spring Loaded Technologies
Spring Loaded's purpose
Helping our customers overcome common mobility impairments, so they can live life to its fullest.
Where it all started
Spring Loaded’s purpose has guided the company’s decision making from the beginning. It all started when the company’s three founders met at Dalhousie University and discovered that they shared experiences having all worn standard knee braces at some point. These were great for providing stability but all three were frustrated that the braces did little to help with the mobility required to get back to work, to school, to athletics, and to everyday life. They decided there must be a better way and Spring Loaded’s idea – and purpose – was born.
Staying motivated during R&D
During the hard slog of developing their initial spring-loaded brace, the Levitation, their purpose kept the team focused and motivated. It’s easy to get distracted with trendy features when you’re deep in the product development stage, but frequently returning to their purpose helped maintain their focus.
Using the Lean Startup methodology the team kept close to patients and clinicians to really understand their most important needs. As they did so they heard about the vital factors of individuality, dignity and quality of life. The engineering team ensured the brace technology they developed would help give people back their mobility and reduce pain, and indeed change their lives.
Strategy and measuring impact
Today Spring Loaded has grown into a medium-sized business with a significant export footprint outside of Atlantic Canada. Chris Cowper-Smith, CEO, attributes this success to sticking close to their purpose. It runs through Spring Loaded’s business strategy, how they attract customers, and how they measure their success. “Our internal company dashboard has ‘Number of lives changed’ not ‘Number of braces sold,’” says Cowper-Smith.
Hiring and keeping talent
Making sure their purpose is more than just words on a page has been key to attracting and keeping the talent that they need to grow. Employees are motivated by knowing that the work they do every day changes people’s lives: this shows in performance reviews and in casual chats at the office, and the company has a low turnover rate to prove it.
Spring Loaded’s cheeky tagline “Making the world a better brace,” was the brainchild of a team member, and it’s stuck. They focus on hiring young talent who are often looking for meaningful careers. And it was an employee that nominated Spring Loaded for the Game Changer’s Award for Youth Employment in 2017.
Attracting investors with purpose
In their start-up years Spring Loaded couldn’t afford to hire and keep the talent they needed without investors, and the business was able to attract capital specifically because of their purpose. This includes impact investors like Ray Myzuka from ThresholdImpact who actively seek investments that provide both excellent financial returns and excellent social returns to the world.
Cowper-Smith feels that all of their investors are motivated by more than profits. “Investors need to make a bunch of decisions each year about which companies they are going to invest in. If a product is going to make a difference for someone’s life and it has a potential to be massively scalable in the end, then that’s what they’re going to choose. We are seeing that investors are caring a lot more about that rather than some widget that might be nice to have but doesn’t really make a difference.”
There is always more to do to and Cowper-Smith says they are refining their mission, vision and values in preparation for a deeper rollout in strategy and HR processes.
Spring Loaded also recently launched a customer survey that will examine quality of life before and after using their knee brace, so the company can quantify and report on how their purpose is having an impact on people’s lives.