The Edge: Lit Motors Bets on Sci-Fi Transportation
May 27, 20143 min read
Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Daniel Kim: I'm Daniel Kim, founder and CEO of Lit Motors. I founded Lit about four years ago. We're making innovative electric vehicles, focusing on a self-balancing two-wheeler currently code-named "C-1". The C-1 combines the romance and efficiency of a motorcycle with the safety and comfort of a car, creating a brand new vehicle platform.
Novedge: How do you collaborate with your team of designers and engineers?
Daniel Kim: Our design and engineering process is very collaborative. We hired an insanely talented team and I lead them to make the vehicle a reality. Since we're designing a new vehicle platform from the ground up, the designers and engineers have to work together very closely to make sure the vehicle is both functional and beautiful. The design informs the engineering and vice-versa. And we're all very, very hands-on. Everyone gets their hands dirty.
Novedge: What makes the C-1 special?
Daniel Kim: No vehicle like the C-1 has ever existed outside of science fiction. We're taking gyro technology from satellites and spacecraft and bringing it down to the terrestrial level. If you look around the world, you see that most people get around on two wheels. But we North Americans love our cars. So we're combining the best parts of cars and motorcycles to create a new vehicle platform, enabled by our gyro technology.
Novedge: How did you get real market feedback on the viability of manufacturing and selling the C-1?
Daniel Kim: We asked! In addition to using more traditional in-person techniques (as documented in our Harvard Business School case study), we use social media extensively to get constant feedback from our market. Manufacturing knowledge is largely from my own experience building cars and bicycles, as well as extensive research on manufacturing techniques for cars, motorcycles, airplanes, and other vehicles. I'm obsessed with How It's Made.
Novedge: What software did you use to design the C-1 and Kubo?
Daniel Kim: We're part of the Autodesk Clean Tech program, so we use their software packages as much as possible, especially Alias. We fill in the gaps with a few other programs, including the Adobe Creative Suite as well.
Novedge: What was the biggest challenge and what have you learned from it?
Daniel Kim: My biggest challenge has been making Lit Motors a reality, turning an idea into a company. I first came up with the concept about ten years ago, and spent years on researching on my own and at RISD and the MIT Media Lab before I founded the company. It's been a huge learning experience to go from a guy with an art degree to running a startup with twenty employees. I feel insanely lucky. It's been a long, hard road, but it's been worth it. I can't imagine doing anything else.
Novedge: What skills have you learned in life that are now serving you the best?
Daniel Kim: That you can control your environment. You can change things, you can fix things, you can create anything you want. You can build your own bike, your own surfboard, your own room. You can build your own car if you want to. I don't recommend it – it's hell – but you can do it.
Novedge: What's next for you and LitMotors?
Daniel Kim: We're currently developing our next prototype, and aim to begin production by the end of the year.
To find out more about the team behind Lit Motors, check out their website. And if you'd like to join them, hurry up and apply: they are hiring!