I’m having breakfast with our guest contributor Peter Fisk off Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. Peter has been working on a new book, Gamechangers: Are you ready to change the world? and like us he’s been around the world in the last nine months as part of his research – from LA to Buenos Aires, Colombo, Dubai, Istanbul and Jakarta.
Peter is among the leading minds in the field of business and brand strategy and is featured on the Thinkers 50 “Guru Radar” as one of the best new business thinkers. He is Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Marketing at IE Business School, one of the world’s top ranked business schools, and leads his own company, GeniusWorks, a boutique consulting firm that helps clients around the world to develop more innovative business and brand strategies.
Now he just got back from test driving the Tesla Model S in Los Angeles, the most hyped, fastest, sexiest, sustainable car on the roads.
“So what was it like?” I ask him. “Tell me all about this sexy car of the future!”
“Amazing!” he laughs. “Out of this world – I can’t describe it, you have to experience it yourself really.”
“But tell me what this super-car actually is,” I say.
“Well it all started as a Silicon Valley dream,” says Peter. “Tesla started off with the ambition of establishing the world’s leading electric car company. After they burnt through their start-up capital, business magnate and investor Elon Musk took over the company, investing much of the fortune he had made at PayPal.”
“And how big is the company?”
“The company now has 6,000 workers and produces about 100 cars a week. But the challenge is not just to build great cars, they also want to grow and shape the market.
“More cars means you also need more charging points, so Musk established Solar City, his own solar energy company. He also recognized he needed to a bigger market and in 2014 he decided to open-source all of his IP, allowing competitors to use his patents.”
“Wow. And so what are the cars like?”
“They’re the fastest, coolest sports cars in California,” says Peter. “And with zero carbon emissions, no guilt either. Their marketing is phenomenal: there’s a Tesla boutique store in LA’s Century City designer shopping mall. It features just two incredibly shiny cars with spotlights and chilled music. No dealers, no forecourts, no discounts. You buy it like the most exclusive luxury goods, with prices starting at $49,900.”
“Wow! Not for beginners.”
“Well that’s not all though,” says Peter. “Musk doesn’t settle for one game-changing innovation, he wants to reach far beyond the roads. Having spent part of his PayPal fortune on Tesla and a solar-powered charging network to support it, he went and spent the rest on developing a space transport company. As you do.”
“This is turning into science fiction,” I laugh.
“Well wait til you hear this: SpaceX started work in 2002, developing a range of Falcon reusable launch vehicles, followed by a spacecraft called Dragon which launches off their back. In 2012, it became the first private company to send a cargo payload to the International Space Station.”
“What? And who is paying for this?”
“Well as NASA has retired its own Space Shuttle, it is looking to people like Musk to outsource its transportation services to. SpaceX won the $10bn contract.”
“And next I guess they’re going to send people to Mars?” I say jokingly.
“Exactly,” says Peter, without a trace of irony. “Human travel in the Dragon, a small cone-shaped vehicle, will start from 2015, shuttling astronauts back and forth between the ICC. Private companies, governments and military have also signed contracts for taking satellites into space. Most ambitious is the NASA-funded project to send Dragon on a Mars landing mission in 2018. Musk’s stated ambition for SpaceX is to create a permanent human presence on Mars.”
“And then the next step will be to have electric cars on Mars,” I say.
“Probably!” Peter says. “No limits here!”
© 2014 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
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