Fearless. Audacious. Bold. These are some of the characteristics we use to describe entrepreneurs. So, then, who are the most audacious, the bravest, and the boldest? Which entrepreneurs are inspiring to other entrepreneurs?
Sure, he’s got production and regulatory trouble at Tesla. His well-documented meltdowns and string of PR crises are now legendary. Still. It remains clear that Musk is a genius with remarkable grit and vision. SpaceX successfully launched and landed a giant rocket and also booked Japanese fashion guru, Yusaku Maezawa, to take the first private flight around the moon. Chicago purchased his hyperloop technology to connect downtown with O’Hare airport. Tesla’s battery division, Gigafactory 1 is humming along and looks to increase from 3,000 employees six months ago to 20,000 in the near future. Perhaps Steve Jobs said it best: “Bold, daring entrepreneurship is messy. It’s complex. But the crazy ones will get [stuff] done.”
Mary T. Barra
General Motors was established 110 years ago, but Barra is pushing GM like a moonshot startup. Her focus is on autonomous driving and car sharing. She plans to eliminate all automobile crashes, emissions, and congestion. Recently, Cruise, GM’s autonomous car subsidiary, earned a $2.25 billion investment from SoftBank Vision Fund, Uber’s biggest shareholder. Rather than stodgily trailing behind the upstarts, Barra is pushing GM into the future and taking her customers along for the ride.
Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone
College friends Ellis and Noone cut their teeth at USC’s Rocket Propulsion Lab. They decided that they could make a 3D printed rocket and send it into space. Instead of 100,000 parts, the rocket is made of only 1,000 parts, a huge efficiency if they can get it off the ground. The project certainly is launching. They have raised more than $45 million dollars and have the backing of celebrity investor, Mark Cuban. The two are reinventing processes for one of the most difficult, complex undertakings: space flight. Ellis admits that the endeavor is “borderline crazy,” but they have recently partnered with NASA and plan their first flight for 2020.
Wojcicki is the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe. They are the first company to receive FDA approval to directly sell genetic cancer-testing kits that do not require a doctor’s prescription. Additionally, she has also announced plans for 23andMe to study the genetics of depression and bipolar disorder. Further, she is partnering with GSK to develop new treatments based on genetic insights. Her goal is to upend the current medical model. Right now, healthcare players make money off illness, and there is “very little incentive for preventing illness.” Wojcicki says, “When people have access to their information, they can mitigate risk.”
After Hurricane Sandy, huge areas of New York were without electricity and internet. Perdomo was shocked. Without a signal, her phone was an expensive calculator. Perdomo and her brother co-founded goTenna to bridge communication gaps in times of crisis. They developed a dollar bill sized piece of technology that pairs, via Bluetooth, with a cell phone. It uses radio waves to send and receive texts up to four miles from a working tower. The next generation, goTenna Mesh, works with other units to build networks that expand range, and allows strong, reliable communication when the grid goes down. She took goTenna to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and set up public access for residents. She is unrelenting and suggests we should all be “asking questions about the resilience of our infrastructure.”
These are just five of the dozens of bold entrepreneurs we could have featured, and not meant to be a definitive list. Instead, it is meant to begin a conversation. The real question is this: Who inspires you?