Thursday, May 6, 2010

Onward and Upward

Two years ago, Joe Justice started building a sports car in his garage. He'd developed engineering and production models that he knew were revolutionary, and he was itching to bring them to the market. Propelled by his vision of an ultralight, superfast, marketable sedan with mass appeal, he began pouring hours of his time into the build and created the WIKISPEED brand.

When he first learned of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, he understood immediately that participation would bring him closer to his production goals. Joe says, "Working with X PRIZE offered tremendous media exposure, allowed for networking with other entrepreneurs and innovators, promised gratis expert feedback from major industry experts, and trained my focus on some very visible goals, which I knew would attract interest from potential volunteers."

And so he submitted his application and was handily accepted as a competitor for the X PRIZE.

Before long, volunteers began partnering with Joe to develop and augment his ideas, and soon his garage began filling with the curious and the eager, their interest piqued by his novel ideas. By the time Joe brought his car to Shakedown at MIS, WIKISPEED had a team of committed volunteers---electrical engineers, ASE-certified mechanics, computer engineers, technical writers, attorneys---all who believed in the car and rallied behind Joe.

Today WIKISPEED's participation in the PIAXP has come to an end. This morning the team learned that they had failed the technical inspection; this afternoon they submitted a formal appeal; and this evening that appeal was denied. While WIKISPEED wishes it were still in active competition, they have far exceeded their original goals in X PRIZE participation. They outlasted over one hundred teams, including such formidable competitors as Tesla Motors and MIT.

"Our participation has propelled us forward, bringing us even closer to our goals. The incredible level of technical guidance and feedback we have received from automotive experts and the quality and depth of the relationships we've built in the industry have helped us make major strides toward production," says Joe. "WIKISPEED has been validated by the X PRIZE."

Joe and the team marvel at the incredible caliber of people working for the X PRIZE organization, running all sides of the operation. And the opportunity to work and confer with his co-competitors was a huge boost. "There was such good will," says Joe. As one of the other teams Tweeted, "Congratulat[ion]s, team WIKISPEED, for a heroic display of teamwork; makes us proud to be part of [PIAXP]."

WIKISPEED is already hard at work on the next iteration of the car, incorporating what they've learned from the X PRIZE. The team goal today is the same as Joe's two years ago---to revolutionize the family sedan, bringing his ultralight, superfast, affordable car into production; and they're in an even better position to do that today than ever before.

In the coming days we'll post the full story of what happened at the X PRIZE Shakedown from folks who were on the ground, in the bays, wrench in hand. So stay tuned.

We're focused, we're prepared, and we're moving full speed ahead.

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