Elon gets credit for creating huge, new markets. But all of his companies have started with existing markets.
Start: Put satellites in orbit
Someday: Colonize Mars
Start: Make an electric McLaren for people with private jets
Someday: Electrify transportation
The Boring Company
Start: Move people across big convention centers1
Someday: End traffic
Start: Make Parkinson’s more manageable
Someday: Blend with AI
After Neuralink’s recent demo, pundits focused on clickbait “Elon wants to put chips in our brains” articles. They ignored the most interesting part: there’s an existing market of people with Parkinson’s and other degenerative disorders who already embed electronics in their skulls.2 Can they improve those implants first, before we all get holes drilled in our skulls?
I can’t think of another entrepreneur who’s been so consistently good at applying new technologies to existing markets. The massive missions merely linger in the background.
Zuckerberg and Oculus are perfect comparisons. MKBHD pressed him on why he wasn’t addressing existing problems with VR tech. “We’re focused on connecting people,” he said.3 He’s not interested in other use cases.
Would it not be smarter to start with existing problems for VR? Perhaps surgeons or medical device reps virtually visiting operating rooms? Why jump straight to a non-existent market?
I often say, “You need $100 in revenue before you get $10,000,000 in revenue.” This is the same class of problem.
Elon’s visions are in the clouds - literally. But his implementations always start small.
If I do any of these things, I have a bad day: Hit snooze Scroll Twitter before getting out of bed Fail to chug water in the morning Do 0 push-ups