Greetings. We all know that starting any new business, and especially one of significant scale that proposes to change the game in its industry, is a difficult proposition. First, you have to have an important idea that fills a real market need. Then you have to have the right people, the right partners and connections, the right plan and business model, and enough funding to bring your vision to life. And you need to be very clever at using your resources wisely and timing their use so that you hit the market at close to the perfect moment.
Then you need a bit…or more than a bit…of luck.
Which brings us to the sad announcement that Better Place, the ambitious Israeli start-up with a brand new way to drive the growth of electric vehicles, was going out of business with more of a whimper than a mighty bang. Granted, electric cars and batteries don’t make a lot of noise, but this company had raised and spent a lot of money from major backers including Nissan and to not cause much of a ripple is somewhat remarkable.
Maybe it’s because its unique approach…of building a vast network of rapid battery switching stations as an alternative to the time consuming recharging of car batteries…was such a new and different solution to the evolving world of electric cars. After all, few viewed the challenge as one of infrastructure rather than advanced technology. Or maybe its because the company could never figure out a cost-effective way to bring its idea to scale. In any event, the demise of Better Place is instructive for the rest of us at a time when technology is changing very quickly and hopes for a greener and more sustainable energy future are leading a growing number of entrepreneurs, established corporations, and researchers to rethink the world of transportation and personal mobility. It is safe to say that in the future the vehicles we drive will be very different. They will use different forms of energy, be significantly safer, and even drive themselves. But the details are still be worked out and the cost of timing of the shift are not entirely certain.
And they will no doubt build on the successes, learning, and even failures of others…many of whom will be strangers.
We win in business and in life when we dare to dream new and bold dreams. And when we are lucky enough to have all of the stars align, or to learn from others toiling in our galaxy.