31 Jul Why did I build a car?
Above is a picture of a car I built. Took me two years to build. I couldn’t find welders, interior car designers, mechanic, auto electricians, etc. Actually I lie, what I mean to say is, I couldn’t find good ones. Every single thing in the car I had to build twice because the first guy (cheaper guy) would basically fuck it up. There is a reason why the say measure twice cut once. There are really good guys out there, but they are so busy that you are in a queue for months!
So why did I build a car? Well to see if I could do it, but mostly because it does not make any sense to me that I live in a country that manufactures vehicles from passenger to trucks for global brands yet we do not have our own South African brand vehicle. It just makes no sense! We have taxis on strike because the cost price of their vehicles are too high yet we have the skills and infrastructure to build our own taxis.
Tesla Model 3 has rolled off the production line last week. Did you know that in 2009 Tesla received a $465million loan from the United States Department of Energy? They then went public the following year?! They went public with half a billion liability and having not made a dollar in turnover- not profit, turnover! Tesla made a profit only after 10 years! Tesla did pay back the government loan with interest within 5 years.
Why start ups struggle in South Africa is that there is no one to give them a $465m run way. Small businesses need a run way so that they can take off. The bigger the business potential the bigger the runway needed. Cash is the runway. The bigger and more ambitious the size of the business the burn rate required is higher therefore a longer runway.
Did you know South Africa had built one of the first electric cars? It was called the Joule! And believe it or not the South African Dept of Science and Technology invested about R130m in it! 👏🏾👏🏾 And just as I was applauding them the political will changed and they dumped the entire project! Yup, true story. The whole project came to a crashing halt…see what I did there 😉. All that IP is now some part of some research in some university and unlikely to see commercialization light of day. All 5 Joule vehicles are still running.
Ps; Google, Fedex, Facebook, WhatsApp, instagram , twitter, Amazon and Uber were all worth billions before they could even monetize their businesses.
Today’s’ business idea 💡 as part of building vehicles in SA, there should be a requirement that the SA government can buy old vehicle IP from the manufacturers and we use that IP to build our vehicles starting with Taxis.