5 Learnings From Entrepreneurial Journey of Elon Musk
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Everybody has heard of Elon Musk. But if you haven’t and are aiming to venture out, you have landed on the right blog post. For people who are not aware about this visionary legend, here’s a summary of the man, on a path to saving humanity from excessive carbon emissions and asteroids. For the record, I find it quite disrespectful while describing the raddest man on Earth, in just 1000 words.
Elon is the founder of two of the most revolutionary companies everTesla Motors and SpaceX.
It will be wrong to label these companies as multinational conglomerates. Despite their valuation running into billions of dollars, strengths into thousands, plush office buildings and efficiently optimised operations, both of these ventures are categorised under startups. And here’s why.
By definition, a startup is any action or process, readily setting something in motion. Tesla Motors is setting a revolution in motion by reintroducing the advent of electric cars in the 21st century. What is mind boggling is how their technology has been open sourced and not patented, thus seeking global attention of the automobile industry. The exponential rate of carbon emission is a huge factor contributing to the global warming crisis. What
Tesla Motors is working towards is beyond inventing affordable electric cars. It is a huge step towards the survival of mankind by changing the habituated mindset of the populus. Mission of SpaceX, on the other hand will make you cry out aloud : “This man is insane!” Elon is used to this though.
Yes, we have all seen scifi movies. We have also wondered about space travel. Quietly wishing experiencing the diamond rain on Saturn or travelling through a wormhole but beyond this, our knowledge of the universe is still embryonic. SpaceX on the other hand is the first baby step towards a much bigger goal envisioned by Elon. He wants the human species to survive beyond the estimated span of a couple of thousand years. This, he believes, can be achieved by colonising several planets. Mars being the first one.
Well, question the insanity of this project and well established scientists, astrophysicists, engineers and thousands of employees working towards this goal, will want to give you a reality check.
Elon Musk is the driving force behind these successes. He is the visionary force behind conversion of failures into successes. He is on his way to becoming the spine of the humanity. He is cool. He is rad. And these are the top 5 reasons what sets him apart.
1. Perseverance: In 2008, both the ventures were on their way to bankruptcy. An important decision was pending from his end? one which would determine the future of these companies. But historically, he refused to give up, despite being hours away from running out of cash. Bagging a billion dollar contract from NASA and a $ 40 million funding for Tesla, he determinedly kept going.
2. One ‘risk’ in dessert please!: In 2001, when the world was still comprehending the power of internet, Musk was on his flight back from Russia, preparing an excel sheet on how best space travel cost can be reduced. This, after selling off two of his internet companies for millions of dollars. “My proceeds from Paypal was $ 180M. I put $ 100M in SpaceX, $ 70M in Tesla and $ 10M in Solar City. I had to borrow money for rent.”
And to think, 7 years down the line with none of them churning out profits, he could have become the biggest case study for bankruptcy.
3. Finding solutions should be the ultimate problem: Going to Musk and explaining ‘why’ the goal is impossible to achieve, is equivalent to getting fired. This incident below reinforces how fiercely Elon pushed his members to work towards an agenda set in place. In 2004, Musk asked Steve Davis, now SpaceX's director of advanced projects, to source an actuator that would help the second stage of the Falcon 1 rocket steer itself.
Davis went out to find some suppliers who could make an electromechanical actuator for him. He got a quote back for $120,000. Elon laughed at the naivety of Davis and said, “That part is no more complicated than
a garage door opener. Your budget is $5,000. Go make it work.'' What followed next is a classic case of ‘Nothing is impossible.’ Davis spent nine months designing and building the things for a grand total of $3,900.
4. The survival code of optimisation: If you think you have achieved the best version of your work and there is nothing beyond to achieve, read on. When a Tesla owner faces an issues with their car, a simple feedback process and a good night’s sleep later, the car is new as before.
Tesla cars rarely need servicing, given the excellent quality of the manufactured parts(also, due to absence of engines), and the incredibly automated functioning of its various parts. Like any other app on your phone, Tesla cars have softwares which get upgraded regularly.
Incase the door opens faster than before, it is due to this reason. Every upgrade is nothing but a reiteration? only achieving higher levels of efficiency. If this was not enough, Elon explains optimisation to a greater level.
“Obviously Tesla is about helping solve the consumption of energy in a sustainable manner, but you need the production of energy in a sustainable manner,” Elon explained. To address the production side of the energy equation, Musk came up with the idea for SolarCity, which his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive cofounded in 2006. The company designs, finances and installs solar panels. In collaboration with Tesla Motors, it also constructs electriccar charging stations.
5. Dream big, work harder: There was a time when launching a rocket into space would cost a bomb. When I say that, I mean an approximate $ 380 million. Today, SpaceX does the same in about $90 million. Thee numbers are for show? the tip of the iceberg. What goes behind achieving this feat, is an altogether a different story. He works harder than any of his employees.
With time being divided between micro managing Tesla and SpaceX offices in two separate cities, attending important meetings with government agencies, being present for promotional marketing and launches, and five kids to take care of, Elon always has his plate full.
Working 80 hours a week, some call Musk the difference between a legend and a madman. But 15 years hence, his hard work is slowly getting acknowledged across the globe.
With people saving up to own a Tesla Model or to buy a ticket to Mars, with space travel becoming the new reality, the madman is enroute to becoming a legend. So, what is it that was stopping you again?