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April 2020

Can human ingenuity beat a piece of self replicating RNA?

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As I sit down to watch movies with my family several nights a week now due to COVID stay at home, it strikes me that there will be many books, movies, songs that will emerge from this global emergency. When you take a moment to think about how much art has been created out of past desperate moments in our culture’s history; WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Cold War, Civil War, slavery, Great Depression, etc, you see the enormous effect that trying times have on people. Artistic creativity seems to flourish in us as we face anxiety. People need to express how they feel, it’s a deep human need to be understood.

Creativity also in a business sense expands during tough times. We invent solutions to the problems we face; countries build new, more powerful weapons when faced with the existential threat of war, indeed what we consider America’s greatest achievement – the Apollo program was a product of Cold War competition. And most business ideas start with some sort of problem solving need/desire on the part of the inventor.

As an inventor, I’ve had a few preliminary ideas and have seen several other inventor’s ideas in response to the pandemic. The amount of time, focus and work being invested into Sars-CoV2 research and care must be in the millions, perhaps billions of human-hours by now. With billions of people around the world focusing on this one, serious threat, who knows how many ideas will spring from this terrible moment. We all have to take a moment and think about the professionals working long, lonely hours combating Sars-CoV2 as health care workers on the front lines and researchers in labs and be confident that human ingenuity will triumph over a self-replicating strand of RNA.

Back to the Future Past

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In 2017, when this website was created and when I had just returned from the incredibly wonderful NMotion startup accelerator in Lincoln, Nebraska, things were going in a positive direction for my company, Kronfeld Motors. I had 25 reservations from 25 wonderful people who put down payments to reserve a vehicle. In addition to the reservations,  we had generated some great press and we had been recently featured on a TV series spotlighting cool, exotic new vehicles called Tech Toys 360, (on Netflix, I think we’re in episode #6); the show did an awesome job making the Raht look like an exotic supercar from the future, instead of the functional yet unrefined first prototype that it is.

That was then, this is after then. I owe all of the great people who fell in love with the Raht and followed me an explanation for my long silence.

Starting in the fall of 2017, numerous calamitous events befell my family. My dad was helping me load the Raht off of a trailer when a makeshift ramp I had stupidly placed at the edge, was not strong enough and broke. The rear of the Raht fell off the ramp and took my 87 year old dad with it. He had to go to the hospital. Thank God he was not seriously injured. However later that year, he became very ill, as did my mom and she began a horrible, torturous experience in the hospital which ended with her death in 2018.

In addition to these unhappy turn of events, when it came to the company and the Raht, there was something strange happening. In order to get the Raht into development for production, we had to raise money. A lot of money. To do this, required some creativity on my part, since I do not have friends in high places. Oh, sure I made pitches to investor groups and applied to a few funding sources/platforms, but I also tried making contacts, cold calling, emailing, snail mailing to people that might have had an interest in the Raht.

Now, I have been a show business entrepreneur most of my life. I’ve been very fortunate to work with really talented, good people who were also entrepreneurial in show business. We struggled, had some success, some failures, but eventually made progress overall. My experience with attempting to promote and find funding for Kronfeld Motors was unlike anything I’d ever encountered. Not only was I completely unsuccessful in finding anyone to help me fund the company, curious episodes would happen where someone I had reached out to was suddenly, inexplicably offended and people I had hired to help me in this regard were incompetent to the point of harming the company. In addition, I found myself making really stupid mistakes which led to more missed opportunities with potential contacts.

And work on the prototype fared no better. Ryan Anderson, my friend and lead engineer had re arranged his work situation, so he could work on the vehicle with me. In session after session, we would run into cascading electronic failures. Also a number of batteries in the vehicle failed and we did manage to successfully replace them, but progress on our control system was not to be had. Ryan, who has a beautiful, young family had to go back full time and use his engineering skills and great work ethic somewhere he could actually make money.

Finally, last year, I had no choice but to shudder the company. After thousands of dollars and hours into my dream as well as the dream of the people who helped me and all the supporters, I had to end it all and drive the Raht off a cliff, jumping out just in time and watch it explode into a fireball. No, wait, that was Bullitt, or maybe Star Trek 2009. Sorry.

Anyway, I’ve gone on too long and bored you to tears; TLDR. Now that we are all in an upside down world, I will sink a little time into looking for an investor again. Lots of great companies started in really bad economic times. A little company you might have heard of named Disney started in 1929, right at the beginning of the Great Depression. So who knows.

Thank you.

-R