The Hyperloop may not be such a long shot after all. Thanks to a community of enthusiasts who have gathered around the concept on the entrepreneurial collaboration platform JumpStartFund, Elon Musk's theorized high-speed tube transport system will soon have its own corporation behind it.
"We want to be the ones that actually make things happen," Dirk Ahlborn, CEO and co-founder of JumpStartFund, said in an interview Wednesday. "So of course we need to create a corporation. Whoever decides to dedicate more time to this than just logging onto the platform deserves to be part of this company."
JumpStartFund launched into public beta on August 22, and aims to give entrepreneurs a network through which to both seek funding and support as well as crowdsource the idea and collaborate with others to refine it. The Hyperloop concept, put up on the site by the JumpStart team, became the platform's flagship project within its first week of launch.
Because Ahlborn and his co-founders have connections with SpaceX, they were able to talk over the idea with the company's president, Gwynne Shotwell, and get the green light to feature it on the platform. Now, after receiving more than 300 votes and the expressed interest of a number of potential collaborators, JumpStartFund has decided to move the project into the in-progress stage.
Joining the JumpStart team to make the Hyperloop company a reality and lead the project are engineers Marco Villa and Patricia Galloway. Villa was previously with SpaceX as the director of mission operations and in charge of the Dragon spacecraft project. Galloway was a member of the US National Science Board for six years before serving as its vice chair from 2008 to 2010, and has experience in national infrastructure planning as part of the National Construction Dispute Resolution Committee.
JumpStartFund is also accepting applications from members of the site to work full-time on the Hyperloop project in exchange for equity in the company. "We want to find a way to give everyone the ability to be a part of this project," Ahlborn said.
"The whole concept is always going to be on the platform," Ahlborn added. "Everything is going to be very transparent, and we intend to reserve a percent of future revenues for people that work with us on the platform." For instance, Ahlborn said even naming the company will be a crowdsourced effort.
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The next step is to refine the concept laid out in Musk's 58-page "alpha" proposal released in August. That process will take place over the next four to six months, but depends entirely on the participation of the crowd at JumpStartFund, Ahlborn explained. By 2014, the team hopes to have the Hyperloop concept in a much more concrete state, which will put the team in a position to begin planning a small-scale prototype to test its feasibility.
The team does not feel as if the project will be constrained by Musk's specific outline -- which proposed a 30-minute trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles -- and wants to stress that alternatives proposed by collaborators will all be accepted.
"We don't want to discourage...any ideas at all," Galloway said.
"We want to make this project become a reality," Ahlborn said, chiming in. "If that means LA to Vegas, then so be it."