Venture Design, part 8

AutoWeek has a great "compare and contrast" profile of Jesse James (from Monster Garage) and Paul Moller (Mr. Skycar).  Their respective forays into the realm of flying cars represent two very different approaches to venture design.

In one corner, we have Moller, who has spent millions and millions and years and years developing Skycar.  He has a PhD, and his venture is very much a left-brain, Master Plan kind of effort: lots of costly (time + money) engineering and analysis, supported by a huge machine for consuming large of amounts of money with big, complex prototypes.  So far he’s gotten the Skycar to hover a few feet off the ground.  It looks cool, though.

In the opposite side of the ring, we have Mr. James, ace welder and intuitive designer, an entrepreneur who knows his way around an English Wheel.  If you’ve ever seen Monster Garage, you know that Jesse is all about building things now, and doing things to the hilt.  Talk is cheap in the land of Jesse, and its a place where you build to know.  In stark contrast to Moller, Jesse’s flying car venture was a two-week, multi-thousand dollar affair, and it resulted in a Panoz Esperante that flew 350 yards.

Who learned more?  Big budget, big schedule, or lean budget, scrappy schedule?  Ventures that seek to crack open new market spaces (like flying cars — not a good market, mind you, but a new market nonetheless) face a central challenge of closing critical information gaps.  If you have suitcases of cash, and a lot of extra time on your hand, try the Moller model.  Otherwise, as a proponent of appropriate venture design, metacool has no choice but to endorse Mr. James.

3 thoughts on “Venture Design, part 8

  1. How to Make a Flying Car: Add Sloppy to the The Ja

    I saw this link from Diego’s metacool about approaches to building a flying car and thought about the current debate in software between “sloppy” and uber-architecture design approaches. This is the debate, as Adam Bosworth puts it:  “So it g…

  2. So many companies are stuck in a business school, “let’s use a tried and true formula”, way of looking at things.
    Do they think it looks sloppy, or less professional to go out and try things with foam models or cheap mock-ups? The amount you can learn from an interaction with a cheap model versus the cost of creating it is amazing.
    Maybe we need to put it into a business school perspective. Dollars spent early, testing ideas with rough mock-ups are going to go further than those spent on extensive studies and working prototypes.

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