Last month, I talked about two companies that adjusted their business model to market and commercialize technologies that they did not invent. In this edition I am going to highlight a company that does the opposite. Local Motors originally made custom cars through posting challenges so engineers from across the country could help them design cars. They would prototype these designs through advanced manufacturing and work with their customers to assemble the vehicle. This model was so successful that they decided to expand their business into other markets. Instead however, of finding the end users themselves they would let others do the marketing and manufacturing for them. They now offer a service that helps other companies like GE and AirBus leverage the Local Motors engineering network and advanced manufacturing to quickly develop new products in a wide variety of markets. Below is an interview I had with Adam Kress, Director of Public Relations & Content.
Susan Neylon – How would you describe Local Motors?
Adam Kress –Local Motors is a technology company that designs, builds and sells vehicles, and co-creation is at the heart of what we do. By combining co-creation with local micro-manufacturing, we are creating a better world through hardware. We invite the global community of solvers, makers, and technologists to join us as together we create technology-forward products that inspire, empower, and nurture humanity. In addition to building vehicles, the Local Motors co-creation platform is also used by other companies looking to rapidly develop products.
Susan Neylon – Can you give me an example?
Adam Kress – Airbus came to Local Motors to ask us to help them develop a cargo-drone that could lift medical supplies (2 1/2 kgs) for 100 kilometers. They realized that they needed to be agile to meet this market need as they were competing with companies other than those in the traditional aerospace sector. We posted the challenge and successful found a solution to their need.
Susan Neylon – How do you attract your community of inventors?
Adam Kress – The more exposure we get, the better it is for attracting community members. Many of our products, like the 3D-printed car, have garnered a lot of media attention, and that helps drive people to the website and our co-creation platform. We also have very robust social media efforts where we teach people about our challenges and encourage them to join.
Susan Neylon – How do your inventors get rewarded?
Adam Kress – Typically they get a cash reward for winning a challenge and then also a percentage of revenue from vehicles sold. In addition to monetary rewards, our community members enjoy the positive reinforcement within the community of inventors.
Susan Neylon – A couple years ago, most of your manufacturing was done traditionally, by hand. I was impressed with your 3D-printing capabilities.
Adam Kress – 3D printing and Direct Digital Manufacturing will change the way we build products. You are able to take a concept for a new vehicle directly from digital image to physical, printed piece.
Susan Neylon – What is your next project?
Adam Kress – We are hard at work to develop the world’s first highway-certified 3D-printed car. We expect to see a low-speed version debut next year with the full highway vehicle in 2018.
Susan Neylon – What keeps you up at night?
Adam Kress – The excitement of the job. There is always so much going on that it can be a big challenge at times to keep up. However, I love that our goals are so big and we’re chasing them with vigor.
Susan Neylon – I wish you all the success in commercializing the first highway-certified 3D- printed car.