Innovation Strategies: Elon Musk on Founding SpaceX

Elon Musk | Jan 3, 2018

Elon Musk

Technology Entrepreneur and Executive

When you’re looking for an opportunity, I think it’s important not so much to focus on just disruption for the sake of it, but rather where is an industry either stagnant or in decline, where the product or service has stayed pretty much the same or maybe even gotten worse over time? It’s worth looking at industries which a lot of people think are impossible or think you can’t succeed at - that’s usually where there’s opportunity. If everyone thinks you can succeed in an industry, they’re probably diving in. 

In the space industry, things have gotten worse over time. They’ve not gotten better. When you consider the fact that we were able to go to the moon in ’69, with Saturn V, and then with the space shuttle we were able to go only to low-earth orbit, and now the space shuttle’s retired and the United States cannot get a single person into orbit without the help of the Russians. That is a terrible trajectory. So, I started Space X with the goal of reversing that.

Transcript

Finding Opportunity Where Others Think It's Impossible

In this video for Big Think Edge, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, talks about how opportunity isn’t based on “disruption for the sake of it.” While Musk has shaken the foundations of numerous industries—from payment transactions and automotive manufacturing, to energy and space exploration—the driving issue, for him, is that “industries which a lot of people think are impossible or think you can’t succeed at—that’s usually where there’s opportunity.”

In stagnant or regressive industries, in which services and products have been in decline and there isn't enough competition to drive innovation, entrepreneurs like Musk see real opportunity. The space industry is one example of an industry in decline, where “we were able to go to the moon in ’69, with Saturn V, and then with the space shuttle we were able to go only to low-Earth orbit, and now the space shuttle’s retired and the United States cannot get a single person into orbit without the help of the Russians.”

Here, Musk saw an opportunity to reverse the course of an industry that others were giving up on, to do something that couldn’t be done in an industry that is currently well-off. This is one of the innovative strategies that Musk has used to revolutionize several different industries. Learn more about innovation strategies from a panoply of experts in Big Think Edge's exclusive online learning programs today!

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Elon Musk

Elon Musk Elon Musk is the ambitious founder and CEO of SpaceX, a private company that has won more launch contracts than anyone else in the launch business.