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Creating a collaborative ecosystem: How HyperloopTT unites international experts to inspire innovation

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Pioneering collaborative innovation at HyperloopTT

Like all companies, HyperloopTT began as an idea to solve a pressing need in society. HyperloopTT was founded to upgrade the world’s transportation networks by replacing slow, outdated, inefficient and polluting systems with fast, safe and sustainable means of mass transportation. Our Founder and Chairman Dirk Ahlborn, a serial entrepreneur, knew that fully realizing our vision would require a radical approach to doing business.

What started as an idea on JumpStartFund.com, has grown into an international endeavor of over eight hundred contributors, fifty full-time employees and fifty corporate partners working across forty countries. Unlike most companies that use a limited group of employees to produce and distribute a product, HyperloopTT harnesses the passion and expertise of a global collective to change the world. At the core of our mission is the development of a transportation infrastructure system unlike anything the world has ever seen. To overcome the obstacles present in long-term technology development, we devised and developed a new-to-the-world approach to business, pioneering the world’s first crowd-collaboration model along the way. 

We operate with a core team of employees organizing and engaging passionate experts in engineering, design, law, marketing and more around the world in exchange for equity. This approach allows us to harness industry-leading knowledge for the creation of our hyperloop system, drastically reducing costs associated with developing these capabilities in-house. 

This dynamic business model allows us to drive innovation by tapping into each member’s area of expertise and assigning them only the projects that make their hearts beat. Not only is our community motivated by creating ground-breaking technological advancements and designing a better future, but they also earn stock options in the company for each hour engaged on a project. 

The results have been astounding. Thus far, the power of our collaborative community has yielded more than forty technology patents, fifty trademarks, and helped us secure partnerships with cutting-edge companies from around the world. Together with our partners, HyperloopTT created the foundation of a transformational multi-billion dollar industry. Our emergence as a company of structural  innovation and resulting success has garnered attention from the business world at large. HyperloopTT’s method of workforce organization has inspired articles in leading business publications like Forbes and has become the subject of two Harvard Business Studies

Bringing the model to life

Inside the organization, we have replaced the top-down information flow of a traditional company with a flat and fluid approach to idea exchange and information sharing. This allows the executive leadership team access to all facets of the company and community so that we stay informed, can offer guidance to teams in real time and pivot strategy when necessary. This approach also ensures that each member of HyperloopTT has direct access to our leadership at all times.

Each HyperloopTT team is led by one of our fifty employees, known internally as Hyperleaders. Hyperleaders are responsible for managing teams, recruiting talent and coordinating projects with contributors, independent contractors and partner organizations. 

Most important to our operations are our contributors. An international collective of over eight hundred strong working on a range of projects based on their interests to advance company needs and objectives. Regardless of the title under which the HyperloopTT member falls – core, hyperleader, or contributor – we all share the same vision of creating a future defined by sustainable mobility. 

Moreover, we believe the office space of the future is not stationary or one-size-fits-all. Instead, it is ubiquitous, inclusive, and informed by mobile work technology to create fluid and dynamic interactions that remove digital and physical boundaries. As such, each HyperloopTT member is comfortable collaborating virtually. In fact, long before Covid-19 necessitated it, we developed our own internal processes and tools to facilitate online collaboration. These tools allow us to organize the discoveries and ideas of the crowd and track progress on projects.

Partnering with world-class companies 

Creating a complete hyperloop system is a complex process that requires integrating diverse transportation technologies. Just as we engage global experts as contributors, we engage industry-leading companies to support the development of our system. We negotiate all of our partnership agreements using a lean-framework approach that sees our partners take an equity stake in our success. This allows us to scale our capabilities in an agile manner to meet our current technology development needs. We’ve used this approach to great success in the past and continue to deploy this approach to secure new partners.

In 2016, we partnered with world-leading transportation design firm PriestmanGoode to design the Quintero One, the first full-scale hyperloop capsule. With the agreement of our partnership we were able to harness PriestmanGoode’s expertise designing air, ground, and water transportation and incorporate it into our capsule development, ensuring the highest level of safety standards and efficiency. 

To create our unique vacuum environment, we partnered with Leybold, inventor of the vacuum. Our partnership brought over 170 years of experience pioneering vacuum technology to our system. Together, we devised a modular vacuum solution that was capable of fitting in a standard shipping container and maintaining pressure below <100 Pa throughout our tube infrastructure.

We also work closely with research institutes and universities to find innovative solutions to incorporate into our system. Our proprietary passive magnetic levitation system, Inductrack™, was pioneered at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for over 20 years. The highly-efficient fail-safe system uses a special arrangement of magnets, known as a halbach array, to create lift over an unpowered, but conductive track. Since licensing the technology from LLNL, we have continued to innovate on the system to enable it to safely levitate our capsule above our track at speeds that can reach 1,223 km/h (760 mph). 

The key to changing the world for the better is to bring the best ideas together under one succinct and actionable plan. What began as a dream to upgrade the world’s transportation systems has evolved into so much more: HyperloopTT has emerged to lead a movement toward a more sustainable and mobile future, where distant friends become neighbors and countries become neighborhoods.

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