All posts by bowersm1

VIRGIN hyperloop pod transport test first passenger journey

Virgin Hyperloop has trialed its first ever journey with passengers, in the desert of Nevada. The futuristic transport concept involves pods inside vacuum tubes carrying passengers at high speeds. In the trial, two passengers – both company staff – travelled the length of a 500m test track in 15 seconds, reaching 107mph (172km/h). However, this is a fraction of Virgin’s ambitions for travel speeds of more than 1,000km/h. Virgin Hyperloop is not the only firm developing the concept but nobody has carried passengers before. Their speed was hampered by the length of the track and acceleration required. The concept, which has spent years in development, builds on a proposal by Tesla founder Elon Musk. Some critics have described it as science fiction. It is based on the world’s fastest magnetic levitation (maglev) trains, then made faster by speeding along inside vacuum tubes. The Maglev train speed world record was set in 2015 when a Japanese train reached 374mph in a test run near Mount Fuji. Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop is also exploring concepts in other countries, including a hypothetical 12 minute connection between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which takes more than an hour by existing public transport. Read More >>

THE UNEXPECTED BOOM IN START-UPS

America is currently experiencing what some are calling a “startup boom.” That’s right — even with a raging pandemic and an ugly recession, America is seeing a boom in the creation of new businesses. Most of these new businesses are seizing opportunities created by the weird coronavirus economy — an economy where people don’t really want to do stuff face-to-face anymore. The largest area for new business creation is online retail. Of course, at the same time, we’ve seen a massacre for brick-and-mortar retail — and we don’t know yet whether these new businesses will fill the job void. Moreover, many of the new businesses are just people who were laid off and were forced to strike out on their own. But with these important asterisks, it may be good news that new businesses are growing out of the ashes of old businesses. The lack of business creation during the Great Recession, was a big reason that it took so long to recover. Fingers crossed it’s different this time. Read More >>

HOW START-UPS are finding the sweet spot in a downturn

It’s counter-intuitive for people to start new businesses in an economic downturn, but startups are prying open new market opportunities that coronavirus pandemic lockdowns have created. New business applications, which is the Census Bureau’s tracker for startups, grew 38% in the week ending Oct. 24, compared with the same week a year ago. The increase is in line with an upward trend seen since late May. In fact, Census data shows a new high for that week since 2007. It’s counter-intuitive for people to start new businesses in an economic downturn, but startups are prying open new market opportunities that coronavirus pandemic lockdowns have created. New business applications, which is the Census Bureau’s tracker for startups, grew 38% in the week ending Oct. 24, compared with the same week a year ago. The increase is in line with an upward trend seen since late May. In fact, Census data shows a new high for that week since 2007. It is not immediately clear if those numbers are triggered by the government’s economic stimulus programs contained in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act of March. Startups can ride out that uncertainty if they have the right approaches. Read More >>

INSIDE A SPAC: HOW IT FEELS TO GO PUBLIC WITH 2020’s HOTTEST FINANCIAL TOOL

You know the tubes from “Futurama,” where you step in and are accelerated at super-high speed to your destination? That’s how asset manager Daniel Cohen describes the SPAC process. He should know: His SPAC has just taken used-car sales company Shift public. For many involved, doing a SPAC is a totally new experience, full of peculiarities that you might not expect. But despite the work and the learning curve, SPACs are more popular than ever. They have already raised over $41 billion this year: more money than in the last 10 years combined, according to Bloomberg data. But deciding to do a SPAC is just the start of the process. Next, companies have to find a SPAC to merge with. Those SPACs — essentially blank-check investment vehicles taken public with a large chunk of investor cash — meanwhile, are out looking for companies. They usually have specific sectors in mind. In all likelihood, SPACs will neither be the future for everyone, nor will they be consigned to the trash can of defunct financial inventions. Read More >>

HOW TO DEVELOP A LEADERSHIP MINDSET FOR UNCERTAIN TIMES

“Leadership is not a title. Leadership is not a position,” Buck says. “But rather, leadership is a mindset. Leadership is a way of being.” – Michelle Buck.

First, leaders must leverage the power of reflection. While self-reflection has long been in the leader’s toolbox, it is a particularly important tool right now, Buck says, because it can provide stability in a time of so much tumult. Next, Buck encourages people to think about how they can generate transformation from adversity. That journey is considered heroic and courageous because it always involves a person stepping into an abyss, into some sort of struggle. Then the hero emerges on the other side having gained insights and wisdom that allow for a transformation. Creating a sense of safety might mean ensuring that employees feel comfortable speaking up, even if they worry their opinion will be unpopular. This includes letting the people you manage know that you are open to their constructive criticism of you, too. Lastly, Buck encourages leaders today to embrace “both/and” thinking as opposed to “either/or.” This lets leaders expand their mindset. Read More >>

VOLOCOPTER WILL START TESTING ITS ELECTRIC AIR TAXIS IN PARIS NEXT YEAR

Volocopter, the German aviation startup specializing in urban air mobility, will be the first company to test its full-scale electrical air taxis near Paris after spending nearly a decade in development. Organized in partnership with Groupe ADP and RATP Groupe, the company hopes to revolutionize transportation with a specific focus on electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles. Not only does Paris offer a significant strategic advantage as a major European hub generally, but the upcoming 2024 Olympics and Paralympics set to take place there only provide more opportunity for Volocopter to make its mark. By making waves in the next couple of years, the startup could corner the burgeoning market for novel intra-city air travel before any significant competitors arise. But because the technology involved is still in its infancy, the testing site won’t be too close to the city center just yet. A designated area, specifically, the Pontoise airfield located nearly 22 miles northwest of Paris. The first half of 2021 will see Volocopter setting up the necessary infrastructure, first in the air and then in the boarding areas within the nearby buildings. With the cooperation of the DGAC (the local Civil Aviation Authority), parking, take-off and landing operations, as well as operations around the vehicle, whether maintenance or electrical recharging, will be tested beginning in June 2021. Read More >>

STARBURST ANNOUNCES 15 FINALISTS TO PITCH IDEAS TO US AND UK DEFENSE AGENCIES

Starburst Aerospace announced 14 startups and one consortium invited to share proposals for addressing important space-related challenges facing the United States and the United Kingdom at International Space Pitch Day, an event to be held in November at the virtual Defense Space Conference 2020. During International Space Pitch Day, the participating agencies will be ready to award contracts immediately to the companies. Starburst named the U.S. and U.K. companies that will be part of the first Allied Defence Accelerator at Oct. 27 at SpaceCom 2020. Plans for the Allied Defence Accelerator were developed by the U.S. Air Force, U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, and the U.K. Defence and Security Accelerator. Additional Allied Defence Accelerator partners include Starburst, the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center, the U.K. Ministry of Defense, U.S. Strategic Command, the Royal Air Force, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Read More >>

HOW INCUBATORS HELP ENTREPRENEURS SUCCEED

Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires the right combination of factors, impeccable timing and often sheer luck. Many of these entrepreneurs want to develop and grow their businesses. There is a huge misconception that the reason why they’re unable to do that is a lack of desire, or because of capital constraints, which is certainly an issue. Many of them do want to make a better life for themselves and their communities, but often lack the knowledge and skills to improve their businesses. Finally, do the learning benefits carry over into entrepreneurs’ future businesses? This question is essential because even if an initial business fails, and we know most of them tend to, many entrepreneurs can take the knowledge and skills they develop and apply them towards their future businesses. Thus, the knowledge they learn during the incubation process could result in a lifelong improvement in their ability to continue to create valuable organizations. These are essential questions to address in future studies that can inform both incubator program designs and policy choices regarding how to support entrepreneurs. Read More >>

Illogical truths: the paradoxes of silicon valley

The Valley’s most valuable product is the contrarian thinking that fuels its innovation culture. World-famous companies that have never turned a profit. A sprawling homeless epidemic cheek by jowl with some of the wealthiest zip codes in the world. Techies who are more likely to bond at Burning Man than at golf courses. Silicon Valley seems to make little sense from the outside. Silicon Valley start-ups have received the lion’s share of US-based venture capital funding over the past 10 years. Yet, many visiting executives struggle to find a foothold because they can’t seem to find the magic formula that makes Silicon Valley tick. Good ideas that look like good ideas are too obvious. Others are probably working on them already. Take Airbnb, a classic good idea that seemed terrible at first pass. How do you check guests’ backgrounds? How do you insure hosts against theft or damage? How do you ensure cleanliness and safety for guests? How do you confirm the accuracy of ads. All of these questions seemed like existential threats to an online marketplace for nightly sublets. There are also flat-out rules against subletting in many cities. Silicon Valley loves to shrug off perfectly good reasons why an idea won’t succeed. Now is also the best time to set foundational values aligning with sustainability, peace and justice. Read More >>

LIVING THEIR BEST LIFE AT HOME: SENIOR-FOCUSED STARTUPS AND VCS REEVALUATE ELDER CARE

Over the last 10 years, investment in startups focused on the areas of “elder care” and “home health care” has increased. At the same time, investors are eying new opportunities in the space. Reframing technologies so seniors can live their best life, be active and prevent health mishaps while staying in their own home is the key, say experts we interviewed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines the concept of “aging in place” as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.” Forward-thinking health plans and venture capital groups are incubating solutions in this space right now, so we will likely see interesting services being spun out of some health plans. Read More >>