Very interesting! I agree that a major business risk is the replicability of the model. There are virtually no barriers to entry other than the capital costs of the buses and employing the drivers. A robust customer loyalty program could help somewhat as competition grows.
I’m interested in the company’s long-term growth strategy. Will the company pursue growth in markets beyond the coasts? (For example, other markets where short-haul flights connect cities, such as Dallas-Austin, seem to have a lot of potential.) Might the company pursue longer trips, such as SF-Las Vegas, overnight? It will be really interesting to see this evolve, especially as flying has continued to get more expensive.
Great write-up – thank you! The growth of Soylent has been fascinating to me. A few thoughts on the future potential for the company:
(1) Replicable model: The Soylent model seems to be easy to replicate. The functional benefits of providing a fast, inexpensive, nutritionally rich meal beverage are not unique. What is really differentiating besides the brand positioning as the one-size-fits-all “whole human nutrition?”
(2) Growth potential: I would think that there is a pretty limited number of potential customers want to not think about eating. It will be interesting to see how much Soylent is able to push this limit as it pursues further growth.
(3) Product evolution: Right now the focus of Soylent is on growing two products that nutritionally work for everyone. In parallel, science is becoming more refined, and doctors are better able to understand an individual’s unique nutritional needs, given his/her genetics and lifestyle. Could greater customization be a future direction for the company? Would that run counter to their current positioning?
SpaceX is a fascinating company — thank you for the overview! A couple of questions that arose for me in reading about their operating model include:
(1) I was struck by the sheer number of employees (4,000). How many of those employees / scientists are focusing on R&D and product development? If SpaceX is able to recruit the top aeronautical engineering talent, what are the implications for NASA (which only has 17,000 active employees)?
(2) to what extent is new technology helping to reduce their production costs, versus a shift in their processes with existing technology? Will technological advancement (like 3D printing, as mentioned in the report) transform the cost to launch materials into space, and eventually human transportation capability? In what time horizon?