Meet George Jetson

Successful innovation requires both great ideas and execution. We often marvel at the ideas wondering “why didn’t I think of that!” The idea though is just the beginning and nothing shows that better than the Martin Aircraft story.

Martin Aircraft is an aeronautical start-up that makes commercial jetpacks. You know, for flying. Like George Jetson.

If you find yourself narrowing your eyes about the viability of such a machine, you might want to prise them open again because Martin Aircraft’s recent IPO on the Australian Securities Exchange was a spectacular success. The company raised over $100 million, including around $21 million from Chinese aerospace group Kuang-Chi Science.

Clearly, there is capital appetite for these ‘products of the future’. When we’re not flying around in our jetpacks, we’ll be chauffeured by our self-driving, web-enabled cars and talking into our watch phones.

But aside from its science-fiction-becomes-fact novelty value, the Martin Jetpack is notable for another reason – namely, its almost textbook approach to becoming a successful start-up.

Capturing the market’s imagination is obviously a key (and the Jetpack certainly does that) but even the greatest idea will flounder without the right commercial acumen driving it. The ability to sell – the bringing of products or expertise to market in a way your customers will understand and appreciate – is critical. The man behind the Martin Jetpack, Glenn Martin, deliberately skilled up in sales and marketing recognising it as an area where so many entrepreneurs fail.

He was also persistent. Martin’s idea for a commercial jetpack was born way back in 1981. It’s fair to assume he would have endured many setbacks in the intervening 34 years. He would have needed to be flexible enough to go back to the drawing board when things were not working out and, in fact, more than a dozen prototypes for the Jetpack were developed. You never hear about the great ideas people gave up on.

And, of course, surrounding yourself with the right expertise is absolutely necessary when it comes to commercialisation. In Martin Aircraft’s case, this meant recruiting a former executive from aerospace and defence giant Lockheed Martin, as well as appointing the former New Zealand Minister for Trade and Investment, Jon Mayson, as chairman of the board.

In the sphere of commercial innovation and invention, it is self-evidently true that the idea matters. But the idea is just the starting point. Getting to market involves persistence, strategic thinking, flexibility and, critically, surrounding yourself with the right skills and expertise to successfully commercialise your idea.

The Martin Jetpack is a great idea and a terrific story. That it might also become a successful product will be down to the attributes the company and its founder have exhibited in bringing it to life.

Feature Image: Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
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