The last days of 2013 have come and it’s time to look back in order to decide who really had a huge impact on people’s lives. We think that the best entrepreneur is the one who has innovated most through the year. Our ideal entrepreneur isn’t someone who has mixed a couple of ideas in order to build a product, the ideal entrepreneur is the one who really thinks ahead without caring about what the others are thinking or even doing. No matter what Google or Apple are releasing, the innovator is looking at his/her own path, which doesn’t cross any of these two companies.
For this reason we have chosen a guy who had a disruptive impact over the last months by working at two different companies and designing a machine that is going to change the way we move. The best entrepreneur in 2013 is Elon Musk, the current CEO & CTO of SpaceX and CEO & Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors. We think this guy deserves the prize in 2013 for the extremely successful work that has been done in these two companies.
SpaceX is a space transport company headquartered in California, which Musk founded in 2002. After more than ten years, the company counts 3,800 employees and several collaborations with NASA, which made it the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.
In September 2013, the company has launched the second version of the Falcon 9(v1.1) vehicle. The Falcon 9 made history in 2012 when it was able to deliver the Dragon, a cargo vehicle developed by the company, in orbit in order to reach the International Space Station. As the company states:
Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. Falcon 9, along with the Dragon spacecraft, was designed from the outset to deliver humans into space and under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is actively working toward that goal.
Next Gen Falcon 9 | Demonstration Flight
Along with the Falcon 9, SpaceX is also working on several interesting concepts such as the Grasshopper, which is a VTVL vehicle that, as the name suggests, can land and take off vertically. Between September 2012 and October 2013, the company achieved eight successful test flights with the Grasshopper v1.0 before retiring it and starting to work on the Grasshopper v1.1.
Grasshopper 744m Test | Single Camera (Hexacopter)
As we have said more than once, Elon Musk is more than an innovator and that’s why he never stops in front of the barriers he faces. By designing rockets, he and his team have stumbled on many challenges, regarding the way products are designed. What they have seen is the fact that in 2013, the era of Google Glass and virtual reality products, designers still work on a 2-D space in order to build 3-D products.
For this reason, Musk in September showed the world how at SpaceX they are trying to change the way engineers and industrial designers build rockets. By using recent innovations such as Leap Motion and the Oculus Rift, the team is working on a 3-D modelling software that is able to interact with the designer.
In this way, the engineer is not designing 3-D prototypes in 2-D, but the latter is totally “immersed” in the prototypes. Although, this is just a first concept of how design might change in the next ten years, it’s a complete paradigm shift from the mouse and the keyboard to the use of our hands and a 3-D virtual reality.
Elon Musk is also the Co-Founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, a company that designs, manufactures and sells electric cars and electric vehicle powertrain components. Tesla produced the first sports electric car, the Tesla Roadster, which was then followed by the Model S. The company went public in 2010 on the NASDAQ stock exchange and it’s currently trading at $151 per share with a market capitalisation of $18.53 billion.
In the first quarter of 2013, the Model S became the top selling plugin electric car in North America by selling 4,900 units during that quarter. The Model S won the 2013 “Motor Trend Car of the Year”, the 2013 “World Green Car” and Automobile Magazine’s 2013 “Car of the Year”. This model, which started to be delivered in 2012 in the United States, entered the European market in early August 2013.
Although the stock price dropped at the beginning of November, Musk has stated that the company was overvalued and that they would eventually surpass their current valuation. In the same month, the CEO stated the following, highlighting the mission of Tesla in the past and next years:
Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible. If we could have done that with our first product, we would have, but that was simply impossible to achieve for a startup company that had never built a car and that had one technology iteration and no economies of scale. Our first product was going to be expensive no matter what it looked like, so we decided to build a sports car, as that seemed like it had the best chance of being competitive with its gasoline alternatives.
Further, since Elon Musk embodies the “perfect” figure of entrepreneur, he hasn’t stopped to what he’s working on, but he’s already looking at the next step. We are talking about the Hyperloop, which was unvelied by Musk on 12th of August this year. The Hyperloop aims to be a new form of transportation between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The subsonic air travel machine will be able to transport people from these two locations (560km) in approximately 30 minutes.
The passengers would theoretically traverse the route with an average speed of 962 km/h. The initial proposal estimates $6 billion costs for a passenger-only version of the system. In March 2014, we are expecting to see an updated white paper and if the conclusion are feasible, Musk will have another baby to take care of.
Musk has a net worth of $6.7B, according to Forbes. We believe he is the best entrepreneur of 2013 for all he has achieved in these past twelve months. It’s uncommon to see a man that can be the CEO of two companies at the same time with billion dollar valuations. Nevertheless, we are not impressed by the two positions, but by the passion and the willingness to learn more and create new products. What it’s really strange is that this man has never stopped to dream like a baby, he’s always onto the next big thing looking at how he could impact people’s lives.
The best entrepreneur in 2013 could just stop and retire, but he’s not doing it because he loves innovation. From Paypal to the Hyperloop, he has showed us who he is and what he can do, that’s why we can just hope to have more people like Elon Musk in this world.