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The The Electric Car Startup

Follow us as we chase a deadline to build an automotive business
and profitably bring a new car to a competitive market.
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“FIRMSconsulting shepherded an idea to a working business. Meticulous. With their Business Case, Start-up and Implementation Journals guiding us. I am proud of what we have achieved together.”

Richard, CEO Electric Car Startup

Mentored in our flagship 1-on-1 private coaching program.

The Client

Follow us as we co-launch, with Richard, an ex-McKinsey consultant and FIRMSconsulting alum, a start-up to build an electric car. As we encourage members to pursue significant goals, we want to show you how it can be done.

 

Richard, a joint business and engineering graduate, moved to Asia upon joining McKinsey. After spending 4 years at the firm, with a promotion, he chose to bypass the MBA route and co-found an automotive start-up. This program focuses on the period when we decide to seek funding through to when we build the business. As you will see, it is an incredibly tough task in a very crowded field, with significant technical and regulatory hurdles–along with steep capital requirements.

 

This is one of 4 businesses we are co-founding to demonstrate how a strategy partners’ thinking would guide a start-up. Yet, unlike the Luxury Brands Digital Start Up with Tati, this new company is larger, with employees and backed by tens of millions of dollars in funding from the Chinese government. All programs teach valuable lessons that we do not repeat. It’s important that you watch them all.

We are not building a car.
We are building a business.
It's harder.
...deadline to build the first production vehicle prototype
We set an ambitious 36-month deadline to build the first production vehicle prototype, which must pass an independent verification by a leading automotive certification team.
36 months
18 months
months into the program when a significant pivot is made to the business
A major decision was made to alter our business model, change the teams, and change the way we build the vehicle and bring it to market. This step required us to consider a discarded strategy option.

Our process

We had a plan
Then COVID-19 came.
We almost died.

We are chasing a deadline. You will follow us, in real time, as we make some very important decisions on what/if/when/how we will design, assemble, and/or manufacture. How will we start the process? What will be our first product? What market will we target? How will we set up manufacturing? There will be many more tough questions we will answer in the program.

 

We will capture all our steps, insights, analyses, and lessons, and you can follow along. Our goal is to teach you to think the way ex-strategy partners do, introduce you to advanced problem-solving skills, and teach you how to build a business or work inside a high-tech business in a brutally competitive space.

revenue generated before the first car is built
Our new business model, post-pivot, generates revenue before we sell the first car, allowing us to continue development and testing of a faster engine and aerodynamic design.
$900k
1

Production site

We take over and develop a production site using new digital production techniques to work alongside seasoned craftsmen to build a supercar.

Enduring leadership lessons

Sebastian Fonzo

Personal & Relatable

Jonathan Tesky

Know yourself

Fei Wang

2

The Digital Luxury Startup

Follow us as we attempt to build a 50% to 75% net margin business from nothing.

“The digital tools and strategy developed by Kris’s team tells us exactly when to go live to hit our revenue goals. The model has proven to be very accurate.
I liked the focus on my personal growth and can see where and how the business will grow.”

Tatiana, CEO Luxury Startup
Mentored as part of our flagship 1-on-1 private coaching program.
Learn alongside the program as we lead Tati, a Top-3 US MBA graduate and former investment banker, to co-found a profitable, significant and sustainable digital luxury brands start-up in just 2-3 years.

The process

Unlike our other programs, this is not self-paced. We design this as a program for you to build a business. Our goal is for this program to serve as an accompanying guide to build and track your changes/milestones.

 

You can follow each detailed step to build your own business with our manual: choosing a product, developing a strategy, we will discuss all the plugins, websites and Apps used, how to get a website, source the product, outsource building the product, testing the product, finding clients, building a brand, email templates used, client emails used, collecting payments, managing taxes, incorporating and you can apply the lessons.

 

The program is unique since we focus on software and building a physical product and lean heavily on Bill’s & Michael’s teachings.

revenue generated before a single unit is manufactured
To fund the business we develop a business model which generates cash to fund the development of the business and product line, before either are developed.
$400k
4 Pivots to the product line and business model

Our co-founder

Tatiana, an Ivy-MBA and FIRMSconsulting alum, worked in a bulge bracket investment bank for ~2 years. At the start of the program Tatiana must consider her father’s suggestion that she return home. Tatiana, however, wants to be her “own person” and launch a luxury label. Her father is hesitant while her mother is quietly apprehensive, given that Tatiana has never before run a business. Tatiana is launching a luxury brands start-up in a sector which prizes elegance, exclusivity, heritage and legacy. These are enormous barriers to entry. The very attributes that have made start-ups successful in almost every other sector in the world tend to be viewed as a liability for luxury brands.

 

If Tatiana joined the family business, she would need to commit at least 3-4 years to making a meaningful contribution. That will push her past the age of 30 at which point changing her career will be even more difficult, given the possibility of marriage and children. The opportunity costs get higher and higher with each passing year. Therefore, she has chosen to act now.

 

Tatiana’s parents assume that having grown up with more than they had Tatiana needs little support. Her peers assume that since she has more support and resources they tend to be more demanding of her. She also comes from an accomplished family which implies the bar to perform is much higher. Due to these assumptions and demands on her she ends up having less support than she needs and suffers from a fear of failure.

1 boutique store custom built
We built one location modelled on the most elegant and sumptuous customer service, and exclusive product lines and services.
projected net margins
Even though we have labor, we are aiming for very high net margins by limiting supply, cultivating exclusive product supply agreements and tightly targeting a narrow customer segment
60%

The journey

We begin with no designs, no plan, no strategy, no designer, no theme, no target market, no website, no distribution, no e-commerce system, no material, no sourcing, no presence in the world’s fashion capitals and almost no capital for a sector that eats it.

 

We pay stunning attention to detail when it comes to the product and brand because execution is key. We unpack, dismantle and reassemble every single assumption in this sector. This is truly about building a great product. Although a complex task requiring a blending of design, form, function and R&D, it is not expensive to do and does not require an army of researchers. One person who thinks is an R&D department. It is not all fashion shows, champagnes, A-list events and first-class travel. That is the outcome of harnessing the chemistry (yes, actual chemistry with beakers and flasks), automating highly mechanical processes and meticulously sourcing pure raw material from a very special lamb in Italy. All of this can be done from a laptop in an apartment on a tiny budget. This is the key insight. We plan to use an unusual approach to technology, the law, procurement, design, especially marketing etc. to upend a sector that believes it is immune to change.

 

This business goes through multiple pivots as it grows. At the time of writing, the current business is vastly different from that which we started pursuing.

3

The Digital Miner

Follow us as we try to digitize a commodities business to strip out inefficiencies.

“Kris has assembled the El Galácticos of ex-partners to do some incredible things. I am a big fan of Bill, Kevin and so on, and especially Michael. One call with Michael will change your destiny. We did not think it was possible to develop a new business model in mining. FIRMSconsulting teaches things you could never find anywhere else.”

Peter, CEO Digital Miner Startup.
Mentored as part of our flagship 1-on-1 private coaching program.

Deep in a thriving emerging markets economy we are partnering with a client’s family to take over and bring on-stream a decommissioned mine. Like the Electric Car Start-Up, Building an Innovation Practice and the Luxury Brands Start-Up, you can follow the entire journey via detailed episodes outlining the entire process: every meeting, every challenge, every tactic, every obstacle, the finances and the implementation of our strategy.

The challenge

Mining is a tough business requiring critical decisions that are hard to reverse. Should the mine be mechanized or mined with a labor-intensive process? Mines are typically in under-developed parts of the world so we must decide what role to play in developing the local community. Should we play a role?

 

Implementation, for those of you following our McKinsey Implementation Program, requires teaching workers the tools to identify and roll out changes to the business. We will have to figure out a way to empower a workforce that is largely illiterate, lacking in basic services like healthcare and operating under harsh conditions.

Trade-offs

How do we strike a balance between enabling a humane working environment and the reality of a very harsh operating theater where fatalities are a common occurrence? Do we merely obey local rules and regulations or hold ourselves to higher and costly western standards?

 

Do we make the common mistake of merely mining and sending ore to foreign countries for refining and beneficiation? The latter being the step where the most value is created: using the ore within advanced products like memory chips and equipment for the space program.

 

Can we do all of this and still make a profit?

 

It would be a good idea to watch the Implementation Program to understand the challenges we will face, along with this program.

factor by which we expect to lower costs in our new model vs. a traditional mine
We are taking over mines abandoned by the majors and must find a way to run the mines at lower costs and higher yields. Our business model lowers costs by a factor of 10.
10X

Going digital

Most digital strategies rely on a highly educated labor-force to understand and use digital technologies. We have to find a way to help and support a labor force which has close to 90% illiteracy and create smart digital solutions to empower them, motivate them and support them as they pursue an ambitious plan to bring the mine online.

 

A mine that has long ago been abandoned due to it’s low yields and increasing fatalities.

 

The digital solutions will not be rolled out in nice air-conditioned offices with easy access to the IT team if a server fails or an App breaks down. The crew will be deep underground working under extremely challenging conditions at high temperatures, dust, moisture, deafening sound, and incredibly high risks.

 

Taking out one’s phone to use an App they cannot read and understand, that fails to load or takes too long to load, can lead to fatalities.

Differences between the start-ups

Disclosure

When we admit companies to this program FIRMSconsulting assumes a controlling equity stake in the business and operational control.
As a live program, we are recording the episodes as they happen. Changes to the business model and more, from our plans, should be expected as we work our way through to launch the businesses and make them sustainable.
We work with ex-partners of McKinsey, BCG et al. to teach members critical thinking, strategy, operations and implementation skills.
We teach members how to apply those skills to solve complex consulting assignments. We teach members how to apply those partner skills to transform their careers in a corporate environment. These start-up programs continue the theme of teaching members to apply the analytic and problem-solving skills of partners to set up and build businesses, be it a start up or building an existing business within a large company.
We are always teaching members to apply those skills.

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