Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hawai'i winners Announced

Congratulations

1st - Iman with the iBite
2nd - Piero with the Huaka
3rd - LR with the Unoh

Out of a field of 59 entries and the highest average scores yet, these three competitors have emerged as the heroes of the Hawai'i Koa automotive spirit. With this competition we set out to uncover a spirited and respectful shape that would be both functional and inspiring to buyers in the islands of Hawai'i.

What a competition!

Here are the gold, silver, and bronze:
















(Iman's iBite)
























(Piero's Huaka)

















(LR's Unoh)

So what is the upshot. I lived in Hawai'i for 3 years and I still have much family that lives on Maui and Oahu. I want for them as much as others to be the recipients of this type of exciting design made for the islands in the islands. Jobs, pride, and great style, that is what Hawai'i Koa Motors is all about.

Mahalo Nui Loa

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A note on community SPAM - There are better ways to get feedback in today's Web 2.0 world

Tonight, I opened up a line of communication with some members of our community, those who had participated in our latest Hawaii competition.

In the last couple of competitions, we have noticed a trend of a small group of competitors who thought it might be useful to use the messaging system within the community to write a canned message to everyone soliciting votes and feedback on their own competition entry.

This post is a comment on that practice.

Basically, this practice is SPAM. Not that there is any iron-clad definition of SPAM, but in this case, the message sent out has been one of impersonal, copy/paste, verbiage aimed at the most base form of communication. A basic example:

"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"

Since this is the age of Web 2.0, everyone's communication is open for everyone else to see, and therefore unlike email, everyone can see you SPAMMING. For this reason, the effect that this behavior has can easily be to turn others away from you, your work, and your desired feedback.

"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"
"Hi, I like your work, check out my entry!"

.....I hope you can see my point.

Though we currently permit this form of inner community SPAM (in the interest of community self-regulation), it is not beneficial for a designer or his score. I would like to suggest a different tactic, and I would ask each competitor to try it earnestly.

1) Make a value added comment on someone's work, and then
2) ask them to respond by commenting on your design.
Note: Your comment for them ought to be specific, insightful, well thought out, and something ACTIONABLE. Any thing else (even simple praise) is, more often than not, discounted heavily.

Basically, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained". If you help someone else meaningfully, they are far more likely to respond to you and to give you honest critique. Try it and I guarantee you will like the response.




















(www.dezeen.com)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lucky No. SEVEN


Today I had the pleasure of spending the morning with Rob Vandermark the CEO of SEVEN Cycles, perhaps the world's foremost process-oriented custom bicycle manufacturer.

Housed in an unassuming factory in Watertown MA, Rob and his team have built an amazing business which worships at the alter of great cycles, manufacturing excellence, and business profitability. After 12 years of business, they have learned a thing or two about manufacturing in a local environment for a heavily involved customer, and those learnings are magical for us to share in.

With a shockingly low investment in machinery and tools, SEVEN, can produce 8 custom bicycles per day at steady state with hyper quality control. What you do not see from a casual cruise around the factory such as in this YouTube video is the flex time that Rob and the team have devised to allow each member of SEVEN to work on his own time to produce the required product with maximum personal freedom and enjoyment. To achieve this freedom in a single piece flow system, Rob has had to improvise by modifying the Toyota Production System (TPS). The result, however, is a compelling vision of small volume manufacturing.



Rob and I spent the best part of the day comparing notes. The bike industry is decidedly different from the car industry, but perhaps the single greatest attribute that both LM and SEVEN share is the core belief that economies of scale are not the only way to succeed in manufacturing when there is a strong market for differentiated products...in fact, diverging from some of the basic scale economies is almost a prerequisite for success in such a market. Heresy? perhaps, but when Ford built the Model T, there was no where near the precision machinery and supply of quality parts that is available today to small manufacturers.

What a phenomenal day. Kudos to SEVEN. Someday I hope to see a SEVEN Mountain bike on the rack atop a Rally Fighter...maybe my own :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

One Day left in Hawaii Motors

Koa warriors and Enthusiasts alike, Tuesday is the last day of voting for your favorite entries in the Hawaii competition. Come to the Local Motors site to make your preference known. This is by far the most engaging and exciting competition that we have held to date in the community. Sometimes groups and sites can claim such records each time because they are always growing, but in this case it is not only that LM is growing but also because of the enthusiasm that has been shown by those dedicated to the auto culture in Hawai'i.

You fans have invigorated this competition with an air of seriousness and puposefulness that has substantially improved the designs of many in this field of competition.

Take a look and judge for yourself. If you have ever been to the Islands, you might find something that would have resonated with you. If you live there now....well, this is yours to OWN!

Here are a few teasers.....









By msmcardesign














By Stemider1982













By rizv














By LR








By Goodrich

The Rush of Creation - Self-Made Hero

Recently I was with my family at the beach in Westport, MA.

My mind was about as far from Local Motors looking at the sand and the butterflies and playing with my boys, when a revelation was launched right before our eyes snapping my attention right back to the automotive revolution that we are about to create.

Here you see a picture of a dedicated craftsman launching one of the most beautiful boats I have ever seen, a hand crafted mahogany trimaran, named 'Skeeter, rigged with a roller furling jib- and main sail and built for two to go for a day sail around Buzzard's Bay.


















What you cannot see in this picture is the crowd of onlookers packed around the launch ramp waiting for the 'Skeeter to take wind. There were probably 30 people watching rapt with awe at this boat wright's accomplishment.

What struck me the most is that boats get launched all of the time with NO fanfare, and yet when it is made by someone personally, the interest increases substantially. I myself was one of those audience members watching the skipper/builder and stopping to talk with him briefly as he shoved off to ask him about the wood used in construction.

The bottom line is this: Create something yourself and become a hero in America. What a rush.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Coatings to the next level

Today I was parked at a Starbucks trying to get my 5 month old son out of the back of our rental car when the door bumped into the side of the Lexus parked next to me.

Before I knew it, the woman in the Lexus was out wrassling up her husband from inside the S'Bux and seething with contempt that our rental car had tapped her Lexus. No mark was made, but she was so SOOOOOO UPSET.

You might think I would have been upset at her, but actually, no, quite the opposite. I took this event as yet another in a long string of opportunities to prove to myself and to my wife that painting a car is an exercise in embedded futility and frustration.

Paint gives you the following:

good looks (+)
100+lbs more weight (-)
fear of a scratch (-)
expense to care for (-)
environmental impact (-)
increased expense by $5000-$10,000 (-)

So you have to ask yourself, "Is the positive aspect of such a habit worth all of the negatives?"

What if you could do coatings another way? Well you can. Vinyl decals have been around for a number of years now (you see them on the side of advertising trucks and buses and in race cars) and they are beginning to catch on.

One company has taken a new twist to the market. Don't just replace the basic color with a vinyl decal but bring in an artist to spice it up. San Francisco based Infectious, founded by Eric Roberts, one of the founding members of Twitter, has taken to making coatings with a twist.

Web 2.0 meets car graphics. Infectious hosts competitions and open calls for design, and then they sell designs to people who want that extra something for their car, while paying an artist royalty to the designer. Pretty cool.

Check 'em:















(www.infectious.com)


















(www.infectious.com)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Visit to Penske Auto Mall - Inskip in Warwick RI


Today I had the good fortune to spend the afternoon with the head of the Mercedes dealership at the Inskip Auto Mall, Bert O'Neal. Bert and his crew have been invaluable in providing Local Motors with class leading service in a very non-traditional fashion for them. We have asked them to help us access supply to certain parts of the Rally Fighter from their OEM. Normally, such support would appear taxing and of litle worth, so many dealers might have overlooked our request, but to Bert, our request was not only profit making for him, but also the chance to form an even more profitable future relationship.

We thank you Inskip for supporting Local Motors as a preferred partner and in exchange we have listed you as one of ours. We look forward to doing much business in the future.

Time's up... let the voting begin

Tonight at 1159pm the entries for the Hawaiin Koa Motors ceased to come forward and now the voting period counts. Do your best to provide feedback and scoring.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Battleground of Crowdsourcing - a focus on feedback

So much talk is being generated about Crowdsourcing these days in the technorati and user-innovation led circle.

Tonight, however, I would like to auger in on the subject of feedback and its critical role in crowdsourcing.

As the very name would suggest, "Crowd+Sourcing" ought to be about something being generated/found from within a crowd. That is the easy part. But here is the more weighty question, and this is where the name belies the meaning, "Do you let the beast free? Does the crowd get to meet itself along the way? Can the members offer each other critique? or Is critique deserved for the "sourcer"?"

When I first found my way into this business, the answer to this question seemed up for grabs. You could, if you wanted, open the floodgates of feedback to the masses, but in case people would "get offended too easily by the unwashed masses commenting on their work", you could restrict the feedback creation only to those who asked for the crowd to compete in the first place.

After only a year of being in this business, I now feel as if the answer is no longer up for grabs. Feedback must be open and ubiquitous.

Since Jeff Howe coined the term in 2006, this crowd-based model has undergone a small explosion and also a limited form of backlash. One need only read the Wikipedia entry (an example of crowdsourcing in and of itself) to find great examples of the method in action in addition to finding its more commonly touted unintended negative effects (i.e. added costs to get to completion, failure due to lack of motivation, below market wages, etc).

These negative effects are all potential results of crowdsourcing, but they are by no means a foregone conclusion. It is like anything, you get nothing for nothing, or rather you get what you pay for.

In this case, I believe one of the great causes of negativity in crowdsourcing is born from the wrong-headed notion that feedback should be bottled up. In the traditional method of sourcing work, I would look for a worker with certain skills. Once found, I would hire that worker, pay him, and bound him to secrecy. Together (in a confidential space) we would scheme about our work. And eventually, we would unveil the finished product to the masses with fingers crossed.

In crowdsourcing, I can find my way into that confidential space with many workers, before paying, and if I keep the feedback bottled up (i.e. just between me and the worker) this ends up being a thousand two way conversations with only me on the receiving and giving end of those thousand conversations. Good for me! No better for everyone else than the days before crowdsourcing.... except that they are now doing a lot of work for me before being chosen to work for real or before being paid a dime.

That is to say, the crowd gets nothing out of crowdsourcing until the feedback loop is open. Once that happens the effort becomes less about you and your needs and more about the crowd and its learning and thirst for self-improvement. Nothing could be more valuable, a global classroom, bar-room, and gallery is created all at once and there is a reason to return that goes beyond money. In the end, competition will happen, you almost cannot avoid it, and great products will be sourced, but as the community creator, you have to be willing to get out of your own way.

Simple, yes, and yet so many people screw it up. Every day, I see another conventional company stretching for innovation. At a loss for ideas, they reach out for some of that "crowdsourcing" stuff; set up a competition; and task their marketers to judge the results and to pay the winner. YUK! this is like spending the effort to create frankenstein only to give him the scary looks and omit the superhuman strength....all you get is an ugly, weak monster.

Sure it costs money to build a reliable feedback mechanism for the crowd, and yes, god-forbid that you would actually pay for them to meet each other and you in real life. But, again, you get what you pay for. If you invest in the crowd, they will share their wisdom and you will both come away richer.

If you have any questions, I urge you to come meet us when we go on the road to meet our community in California (San Francisco and LA) we will be bringing our company on the road to share the results of the community efforts in person and to talk about where we have taken them. Guaranteed we will be there hosting the forum, but we will NOT be doing the lion share of the talking.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

BabyCenter and Local Motors - What on earth could we have in common?

MORE THAN YOU KNOW.

Susannah and I now have three boys below the age of 5 and we were turned on to BabyCenter during our first pregnancy. Another expectant mother told Susannah and she logged on for the beginning of an odyssey. Now going on 5 years, she reads (and reads to me) weekly emails from BabyCenter. They tell us, what our Baby might be doing at his age, what he might like, dislike, what we should look forward to etc.

It wasn't until I started to commune nightly with Local Motors community members from across the world that I began to understand the connection Susanah had with the site. It may sound hokey but our LM community births cars and BabyCenter's births young 'uns....literally. Certainly cars and children are not comparable in their care, value, trials, successes, but they are indeed both complex, inherently magical, deeply mystifying, and part of deep communities who strive (pine) to learn more and more about the objects of their desire.

Sound strange?

Let's look at BabyCenter's primary products (as per their website):

Pregnancy and Parenting Information, covering preconception through age 8, is organized by topic and approved by [BabyCenter's] medical advisory board. Parents can keep up with the latest parenting-related news and get expert advice, find the perfect baby name, use our height predictor or other useful tools.

Online Community lets parents connect with other parents and parents-to-be and talk about whatever they want, whenever they want. Parents can join in an existing discussion on a Bulletin Board or start a new topic of their own. Categories include Baby, Birth Clubs, Preconception, Pregnancy, Regional, and "Raising Great Kids." Parents can also chat live with other parents. Chat rooms include First, Second or Third Trimester rooms as well as a Scheduled Topic Room for specific topics, like toilet training or caring for a newborn. Compare reactions and ideas with other parents by participating in numerous polls.

The BabyCenter Store features thousands of high quality products, all accompanied by extensive guidance to give time-pressed moms an easier and faster way to research and purchase baby gear, supplies, and gifts. To help in this process, BabyCenter has compiled helpful checklists of parent-recommended essentials for every stage of parenting, from preparing a nursery and packing for the hospital to childproofing a home for a toddler. A favorite shopping tool, Parents' Picks, enables shoppers to see products other parents rate highest, as well as parents' comments on those products.

Basically the three ingredients of any web 2.0 profitable site these days gathered around a focus of the community: 1) info they post and you read, 2) info you share with others directly, and 3) stuff you can buy targeted based on what is going on on the site. In short:

1) They tell you stuff about x
2) You tell them stuff about x
3) They sell you stuff for x

You may chuckle, but this is big business at BabyCenter. You don't even have to use the whole site and you can still be hooked. For example, we do not use the live chat, but every week we read the emails telling us the things to expect from our children at their various ages. It may be somewhat general in that all children are different, but it gives you digestible, timely ideas and things to think about.

We strive daily to make Local Motors a place for people to learn about local preference, car loving, design, and soon car building. We will definitely take some hints from BabyCenter. Who knows, maybe someday you will receive a weekly email about the things that are likely going on in your car's life and what you can do about them.

That would be AWESOME!

Go BabyCenter, Go Local!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Vehicle in the Local Motorhead family

With three children now, the time has come to make room for a little more carrying capacity in Dad's car....so we have brought a new auto into the family, until the Rally Fighter is available.

Tonight Susannah and I and the boys picked it up. It was made in 1994 and was owned by a gentleman in Cohasset MA. Needs a little work, but that is what any Local Motorhead loves.

What did we decide on? perhaps you might ask. Well it was a tough decision. I wanted something that stoked the imagination and fed the soul. I wanted something also that could be handed down to my children and be appreciated. Susannah wanted something that was pratical to house the family, and that was beautiful and enjoyable. We both wanted something that fit within the LM family ethos of car nuts.

So here is a clue about what's under the hood:

Perhaps the most sought after and definitely the lowest volume BMW engine ever made. By mixing around the order of the characters in the engine's code you get 7S056B. The company only made 1510 of them of which only a small percentage showed up in the US. Can you make a guess as to this newest member of the Rogers' family?

If you come to the LM HQ ever, you shall have a great look at it and are welcome to drive it.

Jay

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A puck, many carrots and Local-Motors... (Guest Blogger)

Fans of LM, tonight, I tip my hat and hand the mic to one of our team who has just joined us at LM HQ. Aurelien Fran├žois, as announced in the post on October 5th, 2008, is the first community member to join the LM team, and tonight he greets the Community in a letter from the heart.






























Friends of LM, I give you, Aurelien Fran├žois......

First, I would like to say hello to the whole community. I already spent nearly 2 weeks in Wareham MA within the LM team and even if that is not enough to be fully efficient, that is enough to know that a great adventure is going on.

Before I talk about the future, please let me go back approximatively one year before. It was the time of my last defence at school, in front of a jury on occasion of my graduation day. A lot of things to say in such a short time ! (I am sure that most of the LM members know what I am talking about). I presented my main projects, the way I worked on them (alone or in a team) and finally I elaborated about my aims, my vision and my motto : "Go where the puck is going to be". Thankfully, nobody asked me where this holy puck was going to be, because I realized in that I was not yet able to answer.

One year later, the world is changing, the puck is moving quickly and everything is about ecology, economic crisis, oil rarifaction,... What a world ! In such a context, OEMs are under pressure and aim to reduce drastically the energy consumption of their models within the coming years (the marketing departments already make us think the current cars only breathe out pure air!). I agree we need to take care of the Earth and take up new challenges quickly however, I am wondering if people work better under the stick or the carrot? As many (young) designers and engineers are, I am led by passion, this is my carrot, and I hope I will be able (allowed!?) to keep working in this way during my career. I am not convinced, therefore that the stick is as effective.

Concerning Local Motors, beyond the crowd-sourcing concept that it has applied to the automotive craft industry, this company also opened some months ago a new window, a kind of bridge between the optimistic pioneering spirit of the end of the XIXth century, the modern mediums of communication, and our future needs and expectations... all without loosing passion.

For all those reasons in addition to growing the LM community, I believe that day after day we are building our own ability to "go where the puck is going to be". I would simply wish the same destiny to every company.

As always, Go Local.

Aurel. (afrancois@local-motors.com)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back from the Harvard Business School Centennial Conference and on to Hawaii










I have just arrived home after 2.5 days listening to the powerbrokers of global finance and business. These people don't need titles listed, because they are all the same, The HEAD of the organization:

Jeff Immelt, GE
Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan
Meg Whitman, eBay
Anand Mahindra, Mahindra
Larry Summers, US Treasury Sec. and Pres of Harvard
Thierry Breton, French Finance Minister
Michael Porter, HBS Strategy Professor
Rick Wagoner, GM
John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins
Bill Gates, Gates Foundation
James Wolfensen, World Bank
Jaime Ayala, Ayala
Victor Fung, Li & Fung
Sir Ronald Cohen, APAX
Orit Gadiesh, Bain and Company
Ray Gilmartin, Merck
Ann Fudge, Young and Rubicam
Fran Kelly, Arnold Communication
Charlie Rose, Charlie Rose Show
and on
and on
and on

The list of luminaries simply did not stop. People of huge intellectual thought and import were freely sharing their ideas and calling each other to task.

For two+ days, I think that this was the most impressive and productive small group conference that I have ever been to.

Much to reflect on in the coming weeks, but while that is happening, I must note how happy I am to be back in the saddle working on cars, the LM brand, and especially our Hawaii competition which is about to kick off!

Join us starting tonight and especially over the next week as our community from around the world kicks off to celebrate and to create a car for the Hawaii market.

Great day at the HBS 100th Anniversary

Got to watch Charlie Rose interview Meg Whitman, Anand Mahindra, Jeff
Immelt, John Doerr, and James Wolfensen about leadership.

My favorite quote of the day from Jeff Immelt on Leadership,
"leadership is about self renewal in the face of adversity. Almost
every night I go to bed thinking, God I really gooned that up today,
but in the morning I always wake up and look in the mirror and say
Hello Handsome!"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thoughts on the Economy and Steps toward improvement

Tonight I was at the opening of the 100th Anniversary Harvard Business School celebration. This is a 3 day working conference where the alumnae and many MANY world luminaries have gathered to celebrate and to work on the issues at hand in leadership and management.

Since the Economy is something on many people's minds right now, it was a subject that was oft mentioned in the opening speeches and which I feel obliged to pay tribute to in tonight's post.

First it is clear that blame is a backward looking game which many people will play better than I, so I have chosen not to engage.

In looking forward, over the last several days I have heard many opinions, but a few stand out to me as lasting:

-This economic "crisis" is a failure of leadership on many levels, and it is a problem that will similarly be solved by strong leadership.

-This is a problem whose solution must be approached on three levels like a trauma patient (this from Jay O. Light, HBS). 1) Stop the bleeding and stabilize; 2) Perform necessary surgery to correct the basic damage; 3) begin rehabilitation and therapy to address the long-term recovery. Many people are talking about 2 and 3, but if we don't get 1 right, then there will be little need for 2 and 3.

-In my estimation, #1 (see above) is solidly a recipe calling for the shoring up the domestic financial institutions with appropriate equity capital either from government (i.e. taxpayer) or from investors (classic bank investors). I had the pleasure of doing exactly this for several years as an analyst and investor in thrifts and S&Ls in the aftermath of the regional 80's S&L crisis in the southwest, and I can tell you that such a prescription of regulation and government working with private investors works. We bought banks with distressed loan portfolios and huge, hairy, blocks of non-performing assets (NPAs), all in concert with regulators from the Resolution Trust Corporation and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS). Though the scale is bigger today, the principal of creating banks with strong capital as a first step OUT of the crisis is EXACTLY the same.

-And the last point.....Dean Light read a letter to the assembled crowd tonight which hammers home the last point.....

"We are in the midst of a financial crisis, the likes of which we have never seen. Let us first understand the context. War is fresh on our minds. There is a Republican President in office. Banks have failed and the largest trusts have been shaken at their roots due to risky lending practices atop thin liquidity. Technology has been integrated recently into our markets and businesses at a pace few of us could have imagined. And corporations and their Wall Street advisers have recently been engaging in mammoth consolidations the size and complexity of which we have never before seen." Unknown Banker, year 1907

Clearly the final point, is that WE HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE. The size is different, but the scope of fear is not. Let us take stock and set about the solution.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Assembling the powerplant

Over the last week, the Rally Fighter powerplant has come together in the LM shop.

Along the way from crate engine to complete engine, many widgets and parts have been positioned and bolted to make the behemoth take incremental steps forward toward being a finished product.

Alternator, timing belt, powersteering pump, AC compressor, turbo shield, torque converter, vacuum assist, bell housing, transmission, air handling manifolds, emissions gear, motor mounts, heat shields, and hundreds of other small parts have come together to form this beast.

Here's a couple of pictures to whet your appetite for the gear that will come standard in your Rally Fighter.

We even threw the clean plastic shroud and an LM logo on to make it easy to visualize. What a package!



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hawai'i Koa Motors is launched

Aloha Oe!

Mahalo Nui Loa, to each of our supporters and community members.

Today Local Motors announced the competition brief for its most liberating design contest yet, Hawai'i Koa Motors. Charged with designing a flagship vehicle for Local Motors Hawai'i, the entrants to this competition will each be contributing to an open, greenfield body of work gracing the island community with a vehicle made and targeted to this audience and this audience above all.

  • Royal
  • Confident
  • Close to Nature
  • Fierce
  • Agile
  • Proud
  • Disciplined
...are the watch words of the Koa Warriors, which words will be used to describe each of these entries.

Come see what designs surf in to compete starting next Wednesday morning at 1201 EST.

Local Motorhead Goes to Washington

Today, on the eve of the Hawaii competition launch, I spent the day in
Washington DC with one of our Investors. We were busy talking to
advisors crafting our strategy regarding regulatory oversight and
talking about whether or not we will take part in the automotive
restructuring funds made available by the Secretary of Energy.

It is good to have friends in Washington!

GREAT day!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reflections on the Koa - a Sneak peak at the Competition to come

Powerful

Royal

Confident

Close to Nature

Fierce

Agile

Proud

Disciplined










(www.fanaticus.org)




These are the words that describe the Koa Warriors of ancient Hawai'i. Raised and bread in a land of hunters and fishers, the Koa were trained in the art of close quarters weaponry which they mastered in the topography of steep canyons, deep jungle, and rolling seas.

Koa were the elite warrior class, and their legacy is the stuff of legend in the eight Islands of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Watch the competition entries surge forward in honor of the Koa and their home Hawai'i.

Go Hawaii. Go Local!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Landmark Day - A Community Member Joins the LM Team for the FIRST TIME

On Thursday night, Aurelien Francois, graduate of ISD Valenciennes, Charter Member of LM, modern-day Alexis de Tocqueville, and transportation designeur extraordinaire, landed at Boston Logan International airport to join the Local Motors team.























"Aurel" (as he is known to his close friends in the community) is the first member of the team who has come entirely from his interaction in the community. What an incredible milestone! 6 months ago we didn't even have a site. 4 months ago Aurel didn't even know we existed, and 2 months ago he didn't even know that he was destined to be the next member of the LM team.

















But, against all odds, today LM is richer by one phenomenal designer, and the community is richer by one of our own, setting up shop at the LM HQ. His mark as a careful study of the business and a core user from the international community is already being left on the company. Watch for the improvements which Aurel spearheads.

When you get a chance, drop him a line of welcome, and ask him how the experience is going. He has been knee-deep in the Rally Fighter, learning new English, picking Fall apples in New England, studying all of the American car proportions, and basically settling in like a Champion car designer.


















We are all so lucky to have Aurelien with us and expect even more great things from him now that he is at the LM HQ.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Time to Reserve Yours - The Rally Fighter Deposit is coming.

The time is coming for our future customers to be able to get on line.

Simple.

Today, we made our first commitment to get a deposit amount posted so that you can make your reservation for America's first performance, off-road, coupe, the Rally Fighter.

Build yours together with us, be the first to own this legend, drive while being admired, tear the cover off the landscape with Local Motor's new automotive legend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Entrepreneur Engagement in Beantown

Tonight I attended a large-scale entrepreneur and VC mixer in Boston, hosted by the VC firm, Charles River Ventures. For 2 hours, I met some fantastic folks on both the entrepreneur and VC side.

Web 2.0, mobile communications, niche web marketing, detailed analytics, and on, and on.

All was going great until the panel started.

Moderated by Om Malik, the panel consisted of 5 members:

•Andy Miller, CEO, Quattro Wireless
•Rich Miner, VP of Mobile Technology, Google
•Andy Payne, Co-founder, Lab256
•Jeff Bennett, President & COO, NameMedia
•Jim Scheinman, Co-founder, Bebo & Entrepreneur in Residence, Charles River Ventures

At first, it appeared that the discussion was going to be about launching a startup in the midst/aftermath of a market correction. This was, after all, a subject very germane to most of the audience and worth heavy consideration.

Instead, the conversation quickly turned to a self-loathing session of mediated crowd-following where Malik proposed a topic discussing why the East Coast was falling behind the West Coast in entrepreneurship, and each of the panelists piled on in his own way.

I would say that the first mistake made was the immediate conflation of entrepreneurship with Web 2.0 innovation and mobile communication. These are just TWO (2) small niches of entrepreneurship, and if we allow ourselves to limit the definition of an entrepreneur to someone in only those spaces, then we have lost the race before it even started.

If that wasn't bad enough, the next and more egregious mistake was to focus on the past in order to look for answers. Any good investor will tell you that past performance is not a good indicator of future results, and this is no different here. Even if this were a viable strategy, it is clear to most people that, despite the recent past where Boston has come up short in the notoriety of VC deals and startup companies; going back a few more years, Boston can claim to be home to Sycamore, Ciena, Boston Scientific and so much more. So what gives? What did we all just witness?

Is this myopia, short-termism, and fear mongering by wealthy absorbed digerati?

YOU BET.

As soon as we were given the mike, I stood up immediately to defend the value of startups that bring real products to the market-place, and to point out how so many of them have come right from Boston (Sam Adams, BabyStyle, Staples, Kayak, Virgin Money etc.) After me, another VC from Lead Dog Ventures, John Landry, took the mike for an all-out scolding of the panel members for their Boston-doubt, "How dare you come to our town and insult our companies and the way they do business. Enough already!"

Bravo John. VC fertile grounds are complicated enough, but to try to ascribe global trends to an industry which has very personal roots is wrongheaded.

Great meeting the individuals and networking, but as for the panel gathering, I could have done without.