Have you heard of the Hyperloop? It’s the concept described as “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and a bullet train.” Think: Los Angeles to Vegas in 20 minutes or LA to San Francisco in 35 minutes.
A new company called Hyperloop Technologies, Inc. was announced on the cover of Forbes this week, and they are taking on a bold new mission. I’m proud to be a founding director of the company, and very excited about the supercredible team that has come together to make Hyperloop happen.
I sit on the Board of the company along with Shervin Pishevar (major early Investor in Uber, Sherpa Ventures), Joe Lonsdale (Founder Palantir & Formation 8), Jim Messina (Pres. Obama’s Reelection Campaign Manager), David Sacks (Paypal, Yammer), and Brogan BamBrogran (Former SpaceX Engineer, and acting CEO).
What Is Hyperloop?
In 2013, Elon Musk and a group of engineers from Tesla and SpaceX published a speculative design document for a concept they called “The Hyperloop.”
Born out of frustration with California’s plan for a bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco (the slowest and most expensive per mile bullet train around, with an estimated cost of $70 billion), the Hyperloop was to be a high-speed transportation system that could take travelers from San Francisco to LA in 35 minutes for a fraction of the cost.
In other words, it’s a “vacuum tube transportation network” that will be able to travel at around 760 mph – on land and under water. The team is led by Brogan BamBrogan, who did the design work on the second-stage engine of SpaceX’s Falcon 1 and was the lead architect for the heat shield of the Dragon capsule.
Hyperloop did a seed round of $8.5 million and is rapidly lining up an A-Round of $80 million later this year. This team is going big and bold, and they’re doing it the right way.
The Secret of Going Big
Chapter 5 of my most recent book BOLD is called “The Secret of Going Big.” I’d like to point out three of the lessons from that chapter that Hyperloop is doing perfectly.
1) Launching Above the Line of Supercredibility
In each of our minds we have a line of credibility. When you first hear a new idea, you place it above or below this line.
If you place it below, you dismiss it immediately, often as ridiculous. If you place it above, you’re willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, follow it over time, and continue to make serial judgments.
But we also have a line of “supercredibility.” When a new idea shows up above this line, you accept it immediately and say, “Wow, that’s fantastic! How can I get involved?”
The idea is so convincing that your mind accepts it as fact, and your focus shifts from possibilities to implications.
Supercredibility starts with passion; then a bold mission; then, a tireless effort to assemble the greatest team of experts, backers, and entrepreneurs in the world.
This is how ISU, XPRIZE, Singularity University, Planetary Resources, and Human Longevity Inc. all launched.
And now, Hyperloop Technologies.
It’s hard to argue with the combination of the planet’s top engineering talent and most respected businessmen and investors, not to mention an announcement on the cover of Forbes.
This is the team that’s going to make it happen.
(Video: How today’s rapid exchange and iteration of ideas can make radical concepts a reality.)
2) Moonshots and Being Bold
Moonshots, by their definition, are goals that live in that gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction. Instead of mere 10 percent gains, they aim for 10x (meaning ten times) improvements—that’s a 1000 percent increase in performance. The idea comes from Google and Astro Teller, the director of GoogleX.
While a 10x improvement is gargantuan, Teller has very specific reasons for aiming exactly that high: “You assume that going 10x bigger is going to be ten times harder, but often it’s literally easier to go bigger.”
Why should that be? It doesn’t feel intuitively right.
There are three reasons why going 10x bigger is much better than going 10% bigger:
- When you try to do something radically hard, you approach the problem differently than when you try to make something incrementally better.
- When you attack a problem as though it were solvable, even if you don’t know how to solve it, you’ll be shocked with what you come up with.
- It’s 100 times more worth it. It’s never 100 times harder.
Hyperloop is for sure a 10x improvement over today’s transportation system.
3) The Secrets of Skunk
Finally, once you set a bold goal, you can attract a team of the best and brightest to commit to seeing it through.
Big goals require absolute commitment and alignment. As psychologist Gary Latham says, “You have to believe in what you’re doing. Big goals work best when there’s an alignment between an individual’s values and the desired outcome of the goal. When everything lines up, we’re totally committed—meaning we’re paying even more attention, are even more resilient, and are way more productive as a result.”
Kelly Johnson of Lockheed Martin created the original skunkworks in the attempt to create a new warplane in an impossibly short amount of time. He went from a clean sheet of paper to America’s first jet in 143 days, and he did it under budget.
But the goal wasn’t to build a new plane in record time—that was just one of many things that happened on the way to the main big goal: saving the world from Nazi peril. This is the kind of big goal everyone can get behind. It’s why the engineers agreed to work horrific hours in a foul-smelling circus tent (thus the name “Skunk”).
And most important, because this alignment between core values and desired outcomes jacked up performance and productivity and became one of the fundamental reasons that plane was delivered in record time.
What were Johnson’s secrets to skunk? Small teams, authority and autonomy, trust between all players, simple plan with high flexibility to make changes on the fly, isolation from the outside, and early testing.
This pretty much sums up the Hyperloop team.
Next Steps for Hyperloop
While there are many technical and political challenges ahead, the team is working diligently. They plan to build a test track in downtown Los Angeles and envision the first Hyperloop track to connect Los Angeles with Las Vegas.
You can check out the website here (they are hiring): https://hyperlooptech.com/
I encourage you to take on your own bold missions. Anyone with passion and a good idea can change the world today. I’ve spent years developing my own ventures and interviewing world-changing entrepreneurs. All of this research is in BOLD. Grab a copy here and tell me about your bold idea.
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