When Elon Musk outlined his moon-shot idea to transport humans via electromagnetically powered tubes, dubbed the Hyperloop, he was adamant in expressing that he did not have the time between his commitments at SpaceX and Telsa to make it a reality. Now a collaborative platform for would-be startup ideas has put Hyperloop on the table so it can be torn apart, refined, and eventually funded by the crowd.
The goal is to create a nexus for Hyperloop discussion and mobilization on the Web out of the dozens of disparate futurists, hobbyists, and engineers who have campaigned for support on Reddit, built 3D-printed models, and released their own proof-of-concept renditions.
Called JumpStartFund, the platform aims to differentiate itself from the likes of Kickstarter by being a place for startup junkies and entrepreneurs to not just seek funding, but to work in large groups to refine ideas and collaborate with the company's own team of experts to draw on the best people to bring a concept to fruition.
It launched in public beta on August 22 and hosts everything from crowdfunding campaigns to fresh patents with the hope that entrepreneurs can leverage the network to turn simple inventions and concepts into fully formed companies. It operates much like a standard social network, which allows for investors and startup founders to communicate.
"There are conversations happening all over the place about the Hyperloop," Dirk Ahlborn, CEO and co-founder of JumpStartFund, said in an interview. "We believe it's a great idea, and we want to move it forward."
Ahlborn's team, which includes cofounders Paul Coleman and Andrew Quintero who have worked with NASA and The Aerospace Corporation, reached out to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell and were given the green light to use their platform to further the Hyperloop concept.
We've also reached out to SpaceX about the project being on JumpStartFund and will update this post if we hear back.
The first step is to generate community interest through a voting and commenting trial that will determine the level of interest and potential feasibility of eventually crowdfunding the idea. All of this is part of the platform's multistep process for taking ideas from concept to in-progress project.
"I have no idea if Elon plans to be involved personally," Ahlborn said, but he noted that depending on the interest people pour into the JumpStart campaign, Musk could at some point get involved.
The most likely portion for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO to weigh in on would be the "work in progress" stage that follows the voting phase. There, anyone with a JumpStartFund account can contribute to discussions on everything from design and manufacturing to company naming and marketing.
"It's going to be a very open process," Ahlborn said.