Bootstrapping an entire industry

27 Nov

I recently attended a dinner event hosted by the Pioneer Institute where the main speaker was selling his dream to us – to bootstrap entire industries. He has a great vision to get entrepreneurs and companies to build amazing things – but with no government funding or oversight. Even the big companies aren’t interested in participating but he certainly has captured the imagination of millions. So who is this gentleman and how is he achieving this? Dr. Peter Diamandis took his inspiration from Lindbergh’s first flight over the Atlantic. Lindberg was 26 years old who no one thought would be the first one to cross the Atlantic. Lindbergh won the Orteig Prize, “…a $25,000 purse offered by hotel magnate Raymond Orteig to the first person to fly non-stop between New York and Paris…” and proved that entrepreneurs could outperform large corporations and governments. Lindbergh’s success helped launch the commercial aviation industry.

Dr. Diamandis created the Xprize as a way to foster the drive to achieve great things. He partnered with the Ansari family to offer a $10M prize to the first organization to reach space without government funding. That prize was awarded in 2004 to the builders of SpaceShipOne. Dr. Diamandis believes that prizes are a great way to bring a whole industry forward, not just a single company. He sets the prize money low enough for the big guys to ignore about but big enough for entrepreneurs to care. He commented that the day before a breakthrough happens, it’s considered a crazy idea that only entrepreneurs are willing to risk it all to achieve.¬† Change is brought from the outside, not from the current group in charge.

100mgcar genome moon spirit spaceshipone xprize

He now has Google offering a $30M Xprize for the first organization to reach the Moon and send back video. Again, no government funding is permitted. They’re calling this Moon 2.0.

More prizes are coming – prizes for the first 100mpg car, for mapping the entire human genome and more. The foundation that Dr. Diamandis chairs is looking at prizes to focus on improving education, on renewable energy sources and on reducing poverty. This blog does not do justice to what he’s accomplished and how he’s inspired so many people to do wonderful things.

Please go to his website to learn more, to be inspired and to build something great yourselves.

Thank you to Erik Britt-Webb for inviting me to the event and to Pete Peters, Founding Chairman of the Pioneer Institute for inviting such a wonderful and inspirational person as Dr. Diamandis to speak to us.


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