Elon Musk has created almost a handful of companies worth billions of dollars (each), but none of these ventures have been built on the basis of classic business school teachings, such as market research and trend analysis. He really just does what he likes and hopes others will follow.
“I do zero market research whatsoever,” Musk said during an on-stage interview with U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John Thompson at the Air Force’s inaugural “Space Pitch Day” event in San Francisco on Tuesday. “If you don’t love the product, you should not expect that others will.” And, if the product is good enough, “people will want to buy it.”
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO also purposefully avoids daily news, which he describes as mostly “noise.” “Generally, newspapers seem to try to answer the question, ‘What is the worst thing that happened on the Earth today?'” Musk said. But, of course, Twitter is an exception. “I find Twitter enlightening at times,” he added.
The Space Pitch Day was hosted by the Air Force in collaboration with space startup incubator, Starburst Aerospace, to give private-sector space companies an opportunity to pitch their ideas to the military branch’s acquisition team.
“Gone are the days where all of the innovation, all of the technology, comes from the Department of Defense or comes from the federal government,” Thompson, who oversees a $7 billion budget for space research and acquisition, said on Tuesday. “[The U.S. Air Force is] trying to do things different and experimenting with how we can work closer with the commercial space market.”
In SpaceX’s case, Musk wanted to call the military’s attention to his newest Mars-colonizing spacecraft, Starship, which he touted would cost only a fraction of what NASA spends on rocket launches, thanks to the whole system’s reusability.
The Starship system consists of a reusable spaceship that can seat 100 passengers and a reusable rocket known as Super Heavy to send the spacecraft into orbit.
Musk estimated that a single Starship launch would require only $900,000 worth of propellant to send up to 150 tons of payload into orbit and that the entire operation would cost no more than $2 million. That’s about 98% cheaper than what it currently costs NASA to launch an average payload and “much less than even a tiny rocket,” Musk told Thompson.
He then briefly pitched the crowd on Tesla’s highly hyped electric pickup truck, which is set to debut on November 21. “We call it ‘Cybertruck.’ I mean it looks like an armored personnel carrier from the future,” Musk said. “I like it. It’s gonna look like it came off a movie set when it goes on the road.”
Musk had his mind fixated on movie sets because he recently watched Space Jam during his daily morning treadmill routine. He said that’s the only time he watches television. And the rest of the day is all about work and being as productive as possible.