#Asia #Japan The Dream of Flying Cars meets the Truth of Aviation Startups

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Personal aviation is awesome!

Aviation has been a source of inspiration and a symbol of innovation since the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, to Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, to today’s dreams of colonizing Mars.

Unfortunately, it’s been very hard for startups to make money in aviation. Even the Wright brothers did not do particularly well in business.

But things might be changing. Today we sit down and talk with Tasuku Nakai, co-founder of Tetra Aviation, and we discuss how public research incentives, support from the aerospace giants, and the changing infrastructure needs might have just tipped the balance to startups.

It’s a great conversation, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Show Notes

How Tetra’s eVTOL aircraft came to be and what it might become
The steps needed to bring a new aircraft to market
Why it’s so difficult to innovate in aviation
The main hurdle in expanding the personal aviation market
Fundraising strategies and exist options for aviation startups
When investing is considered “evil” in Japan

Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Tetra Aviation
Friend Tasuku on Facebook
Connect with him on LinkedIn
Follow Tetra on Twitter @Tetra_Aviation
Check out a video of their prototype VTOL aircraft

Leave a comment
Transcript
Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me.
Today, we’re going to talk about flying cars. That’s right, flying cars.
We sit down with Tasuku Nakai, co-founder of Tetra Aviation and we talk about what it takes to bring a new aircraft, especially a new personal aircraft to market, and it’s not easy. The Tetra Aircraft is an electric vertical take-off and landing, or VTOL aircraft, which they believe will form the backbone of a new aerial intercity transport system.
You know, I have a real soft spot for these kinds of startups. I have a private pilot’s license and I love the idea that the age of affordable personal aircraft might almost be here.
But as I mentioned, it’s hard, and as Tasuku explains, these kinds of companies don’t fit the traditional VC model for a number of reasons. We also talk about the possible business models open to aircraft startups, the release of Tetra’s new prototype, and the crazy world of experimental aircraft pilots who fly newly designed aircraft as a hobby.
But you know, Tasuku tells that story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview.

Interview
Tim: So, I’m sitting here with Tasuku Nakai of Tetra Aviation who makes personal electric aircraft, so thanks for sitting down with me.
Tasuku: Thanks for inviting me, Tim, and this is a really great moment to introduce myself and introduce my business.
Tim: No, the pleasure’s all mine. I think what you guys are doing is really interesting and I’ve had a passion for, like, aerospace startups for a long time, so actually, I mean, you can probably explain what Tetra Aviation is and what the product is better than I can. So basically, what are you building?
Tasuku: We are building personal electrical VTOL aircraft, so vertical take-off and landing, so wherever you want to come, just simply ride on it and fly to the air and arrive on your destination exactly.
Tim: And we’ll talk about the history later. This is kind of like the flying cars that startups have been teasing us about since the 1950s, but what you’ve built, is it considered an airplane or a helicopter, or a drone, or how is it classified?
Tasuku: Well, a really difficult question about that. There’s no category anymore. There’s a lot of class, almost 50 or 60 classifications, but basically, you think it’s similar for helicopter and the drone, to combine the helicopter and drone, so I mean, the people can ride on it and also, it has a distributed propulsion system as a drone has.
Tim: Actually, just today,

from Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan https://ift.tt/3iZ57gA

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