Talk to us


Ep. 33 – How to market the future with Rob Miller of HyperloopTT

Share on

How do you design a brand around a product that doesn’t actually exist? This is a fascinating conversation with Rob Miller, Chief Marketing Officer at HyperloopTT to hear about where the idea came from, the actual technology and their very special business models with contributors that work part-time in exchange for equity.

Rob has a fascinating career, and he fills us in on how he ended up where he is today and how HyperloopTT is working to decarbonise the travel industry.

To listen to this conversation on your preferred streaming platform, click here.

If you prefer to watch this episode, visit (and subscribe!) to Rival’s YouTube channel.


Rob: For HyperloopTT, we, you know, we're building this brand as you would any other iconic brand. So you know, any of the these these iconic brands you can think of, we need to have a presence like, you know, like, like they would we need to the visual, the visual, the visual needs to be creative and stunning and interesting. The, you know, all the details, we need to really, you know, perform on on the highest level to be able to bring this to life.

Eric: I'm Eric Fulwiler. And this is scratch, bringing you marketing lessons from leading brands and brains rewriting the rulebook from scratch for the world of today.

Wow, such a fascinating conversation with Rob, CMO of HyperloopTT, Transportation Technology. So talk a bit about Rob's background. And then of course, we get into the world of HyperloopTT,. So many of you have probably heard of HyperloopTT,, like I had, from when Ilan came out. It was almost 10 years ago now talking about building, you know, this new transportation technology between LA and San Francisco. But actually, as Rob describes the history of HyperloopTT,, the technology or the idea for the technology is over 150 years old, and there were patents on it over 100 years ago. So it's been around for a while, obviously, Elon helped to popularise it. But it was so fascinating hearing about the technology, hearing about how HyperloopTT, Transportation, technology HTT how they structure their business. So they actually have a relatively small full time team think it was 50 or 60 people, but 800 contributors that work part time in exchange for equity. That was fascinating. It's fascinating hearing about how you build a brand for a product that doesn't exist. And actually, it's a brand for the category, in a way. And a lot of it is about credibility, because there's regulation and safety as much as there is what are the reasons to buy the product when it actually comes out. So I don't want to give too much more away, I know that you like me are going to be fascinated by this conversation. So I'll just leave it there. Without further ado, please enjoy. As I know, I did my conversation with Rob Miller. Kicking things off would love to hear about a brand that you're obsessed with right now.

Rob: A brand that I'm obsessed with what a good question. You know, I think, for us in the, in the world of Hyperloop, where you know, where everyday we're looking at how can we think about how can we? How can we decide to decarbonize transportation. So, for me, everything, everything else in our world that's going to help us to build this, this electric, the zero emissions future from electric vehicles to drone delivery to vertical, Evie, tall tech. So there are a few really interesting players players in that space. And that's kind of where we're, where we're geeking out, of course, you know, here on Earth, and in space, the James Webb Telescope is another. So NASA is still a brand that we're getting out with these days.

Eric: Love it. And like I mentioned, before we started recording, I'm hoping that a friend of mine who works in NASA on the marketing and communication side is going to be here. But yeah, NASA brand having having this moment coming back. Great. So Rob, why don't we start with a little bit of your story. And then we can get into the meat of it, talking about Hyperloop, Transportation Technology, but what do you give a bit of an overview on your background, because I think it's really interesting, you know, not just the role that you have now and having been in this world and at this business for six years now. But also you've got, you know, some businesses that you founded, you were at cotton, USA, and I know you lived overseas and worked overseas with them for a long time. So tell us a little bit about the story of Rob and how you became a CMO.

Rob: Yeah, it's, it's a it's been an interesting and fun journey to get here. Not not necessarily traditional one I was, you know, I was a neuroscience guy who was headed to medical school, my last semester of university undergraduate I to a semester on a ship called Semester at Sea where we travelled around the world and I, at that moment, decided that to, to bag the, to my Much to my parents dismay band into medical school dreams and, and pursue a dream of, you know, seeing this big world. So I, you know, immediately I graduated then found the master's programme in Japan, studying international relations so that that would be the best way to find a kind of multinational multinational job. had this really unique opportunity with with cotton USA, we're helping to promote promote cotton around the world. That That put me on a, you know, lived in Asia for 10 years put me on an aeroplane Uh, least once a week for more than a decade. So, so my, you know, my 20s and 30s were really spent mostly getting from one place to another. And, you know, one of the opportunities I have living in Shanghai living in Tokyo was, you know, commuting by the bullet training in Japan, and taking the maglev train in Shanghai. So, you know, we had seen this advertisement for the bullet train of Thailand, it's probably 10 years ago. So now it's 10 years older, but the bullet train is now 60 years old, they launched the bullet train in Japan almost 60 years ago, which is, which is for me was absolutely fascinating, because, you know, growing up in the states in a car car culture, to be able to travel by high speed rail was was very cool. And I thought, well, there's is there? Why haven't we have all this? Why haven't we built this elsewhere? And then why, why in 60 years, have we not built anything better, faster, greener. And then, you know, I came, I'd come back to the States and was, you know, really interested in in tech and entrepreneurship and transportation. So pivoted my career there, had read about HyperloopTT,. And thought, Man, this is this is maybe the coolest, coolest job on the planet, the coolest project on the planet, and had the I was fortunate enough to meet the founders at South by Southwest six years ago, seven years ago, and have been fortunate to be with the company since that's amazing. And if my research is accurate, you speak fluent Japanese as well, right? Yeah, it's these days, it's just for ordering sushi. I really don't get much of a chance to practice

Eric: But it's funny that you say that about the the train in Japan the technology being 60 years old, I had a thought similarly, because I saw somewhere there was a picture of the Concorde from like 1988 or whatever it was, was like, you know, we had some things it was like the fastest flight from New York to London was like under three hours and here we are now. You know, it doesn't run anymore, but we haven't moved things forward in any significant way when it comes to air travel. And obviously what you're doing with HyperloopTT, technology is trying to do that for train travel, which I will comment having just booked my Amtrak from Boston to New York next week. Needs a yeah needs a bit of a levelling up especially in the US.

Rob: It's interesting you mentioned the Concorde. I think there's you know, I remember as a kid we I you know, had this this this wealthy uncle is to Rico, you know, we who, who had the plaque on his wall, it was when you when you fly in the Concorde, you get this, you get a little certificate, and, and that was oh my gosh, you flew the Concorde. What was it? Like? It's like, well, it was loud, it was cramped, it was uncomfortable, but it was fast. So you know, there's there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the Concorde. And for us we look at that is, speed is not speed is something but it's not everything, obviously. So you know, building a transportation system that you know, speed is speed does Captivate some people, but it's not going to get that alone is not going to get HyperloopTT, to your city.

Eric: Yep. So funny, I will, I will bring this up. I had, I had an old guy that I worked with on the agency side, he was the CEO of VaynerMedia. For a while now he's the CEO of Sasha group, James Orsini, I'm gonna have to send this episode to him just for the shout out. He had the coasters from the Concorde in his office, and he would always talk about going back and forth between New York and London and the old agency days on the Concorde. So, good story. So with that, let's dig into it. So I am fascinated to learn, get your perspective, get up to speed with everything that's going on in your world of Hyperloop, Hyperloop, transportation technology, the actual business and also HyperloopTT,as a technology overall. So why don't we start there? Hyperloop. So 150 year old technology, it's not a new thing, but obviously became more mainstream with Elon Musk, and his kind of announcements about the business that he set up focusing on the technology, like it was about 10 years ago. So why don't we start with Hyperloop the technology, and then let's talk about Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, your business so Hyperloop the technology, can you give people the overview and a bit of the history to the extent that you know it, and bring us up to where we are today?

Rob: Sure. So, you know, Hyperloop is a technology essentially is if you think about the fuselage of an aeroplane, so a plane without the without the wings and the tail that essentially is a Hyperloop capsule. And we're, we're what we're trying to do with Hyperloop is eliminate friction. So you're driving down the road, you roll, you roll your window down, you're going 60 miles an hour, 100 kilometres per hour, you put your hand out that's the resistance. That's the friction that we face in transportation today. And that's why we're limited to to be able to hit certain speeds because we can only we can only if you want to increase speed you need to the cost of the cost for is so high that the energy cost is so high that it makes it makes it not feasible. So we're we use vacuum technology to create a low pressure environment inside the tube, about between 10 to 100 Pascal's which is, you know, roughly where the Red Bull Stratos jump took place in the atmosphere, that's about the same atmosphere. And what that allows us to do is is, is moved very efficiently, sustainably, because we're using renewable energies, and safely so it's that's the, that's Hyperloop in a in a, in a nutshell, the thing that a lot of people don't realise is that I believe as a concept you mentioned it is more than 150 years old. So in London in New York, in the 1860s, we were, we were building pneumatic tube subway systems. The first patent for Hyperloop was Robert Goddard, I think it was 1980 9019, somewhere around there, so 100 years old. And it's it's really all based on existing technology. Now we're using, you know, kind of a next generation maglev system, and improvements on on certain technologies, but but it's really about Hyperloop hasn't been built, because it all hasn't been put together. So there's really nothing that's that's really revolutionary about it. But the revolutionary thing is that we're we're in a world where the last major advance in in transportation was is 67 years ago. And if we were in, if we were sitting in 1920, instead of 1922, instead of 2022. And we're talking about the next generation of transportation, we'd be excited about it, because we've seen in our lifetime, going from horse and buggy to, to electric car to train to, and now aeroplane, and we've seen all that innovation and 20 30 40 years.

Eric: Fast forward 100 years, and we're sceptical about it, because, you know, I'm in my lifetime. And you know, everything from bullet train to tooktook transportation has not gotten better, right? I mean, now we're in, we're in a kind of a crowded summer season post pandemic, where flights are four lines are long, it's just really a miserable experience getting from from point A to point B, and we're doing so in a way that's, that's really harmful to the planet. Transportation is almost a quarter of all carbon emissions worldwide. So we're, you know, we're polluting our planet, we're taking months and sometimes years off off of off of our lives, depending on where you live. So we have an opportunity now to really reinvent transportation and to take the next step forward. And that's, that's essentially Hyperloop in a nutshell. Okay. And so then, where are we on that journey? So the concept of the technology, the patents for the technology, 100 plus years old? Obviously, it got a lot more attention with Elon. But where are we on that journey of actually realising this technology, maybe overall, because I know there's a few businesses and a lot of different people kind of looking at the space. And then specifically for Hyperloop tt,

Rob: One of the things about being with Hyperloop. Tt for six, seven years is, we've seen it, we've seen Hyperloop as a kind of go from a concept to now a reality. And we're at the point where it's no longer if Hyperloop it's just a matter of when, when can you and I ride? And where will the first type of be. So we've, we built the our first full scale prototype in Toulouse, France. And, and now we're in a place where Italy is building the first 10 kilometres of of Hyperloop system that should be ready, mid mid decade. And then the first, the first commercial Hyperloop hopefully, we'll be we'll be riding with transporting millions of passengers before the end of this decade. So it's a little bit of an ambitious goal, but we feel we feel fairly confident that that's happening pretty quickly.

Eric: And where will the footprint be? So it sounds like at least for the that initial build that's in Europe? Is that where you're focused? Because I know what when Ilan kind of came up with this thing. It was more of San Francisco to LA but your footprint and then also the footprint of the industry, the different businesses looking at Hyperloop Where where are they focused on building this out right now? Yeah, so I think, you know, if you look at if you look at rail travel, there's I mean, they're they're rail lines all over the world. So I think the same with the same with Hyperloop. We're looking at the the one thing we can't be as a company is we can't be a an American company, or we really can't be a European Cup.

Rob: Because the opportunities, you know, opportunities we our first feasibility study was in the Emirates. The second was Chicago to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, one in India, we have agreements with a few different countries around the world. So it's really, I think there's a, there's a lot of interest, it's kind of a race to see where the first commercial route will be. It looks like the first, the first 10 kilometres we'll be in will be in Italy.

Eric: It's fascinating, I can't wait to dig into how you actually build a brand and market something like this that has so many different pieces, so many moving parts,you know, so many pieces on the chess board as it will, as it were. But before we do that, I want to talk about the business of Hyperloop TT, because it's, it's very unique. So I know that you're a full time employee, and there are obviously full time employees, but actually Hyperloop TT as a business. So you have over 800 people who you call contributors who work a minimum of 10 hours a week in exchange for future stock options. So I want to make sure I got that right. And follow up question how how do you make that work? How's it going?

Rob: I mean, Eric, if you think about it, if you and I were to start a we were to go out and start Hyperloop company tomorrow. So we're, we're starting our own Hyperloop company, the resources we would need to do so I mean, if you think about the engineering disciplines alone, aerospace, aeronautics, nuclear physics, vacuum technology, and then two dozen more, the if so where if we're in Los Angeles, when we're in London, the the best people may not be here, the best people are probably working at places like JPL or, or Tesla or SpaceX or, or Boeing or Airbus, or, you know, any of the other companies that you could think of. And, you know, it's a, it's a $1 billion proposition to do it in a traditional way. So So for us, we, we did a call to action early on. And, you know, it's an ask the community, the founder had formed, it's if Hyperloop was something that they want to take up a project that they wanted to take up. We talked to SpaceX, they said, blast it off. And, you know, essentially, we asked, we, we did a call to action for engineers to figure out back in 2013, if this was this Hyperloop concept was something that's actually feasible. And the response that we got. And what we said was, will you know, instead of compensation, we'll, you know, we'll give you equity in the company of your stock options, work on this feasibility study for us, and help us to determine if this is, if this is something that we should pursue. We have this amazing roster, and amazing and incredible interest around Hyperloop. engineers from a lot of the companies that I've mentioned, and people that have done really great things like like build the CERN Large Hadron Collider, there was even someone who has passed away since but he had worked on the Manhattan Project. So there, it was just an incredible group of people that came together with this with this passion around this idea. They took five months to study it, we came back with our initial feasibility study that said that it's a little bit different than then was imagined, originally, but it's it's all existing technology, it's absolutely feasible. So what we did was we initially we started, our founders started a company that was really just based on bringing people in for equity in the company. And everyone was a everyone was a contributor in the beginning. cfWe focused on partnerships. So we we tried to build best in class partners. And now we've we've kind of grown to a little bit of a hybrid model. Because it's a full time thing full time employment is not for everyone. If you're not I remember early on back in 2016, I was sitting in a room with our propulsion and levitation team, and they were talking about the levitation gap is a really critical concept and maglev technology fits, you know, fits five millimetres too much, then you lose so much efficiency and the whole concept isn't viable. So he he was talking about his time at Lawrence Livermore Lab. And, you know, he, he essentially went up to the wall, he said, you know, we had this problem back in the early 90s. It took our team the month month to figure out and just wrote the equation on the, on the board and said, here's the here's the answer. So, you know, for us, it's been those those, those insights that we couldn't have gathered as a traditional startup and the insights of working with those, those and sometimes traditional transportation industries who are, in a sense, we're standing on the shoulders of giants, they built great things. They're helping us to bring to bring Hyperloop to the world. So it's I think it's a model of it's a model of partnership, it's a model of, you know, we can't do it alone. And accepting that, that big societies, big challenges require sometimes radical ways of collaboration. We were, we were mostly I mean, we have we have an office in LA, we have an office in, in Dubai, small one and the centre in Toulouse small one in Spain, but we're mostly remote working remotely, pre pandemic. So once we got the, you know, back in 2020, we just kind of kept going as, as we were. So it was a little bit of a radical idea in 2019. But now, you know, now it's kind of the world is doing the same thing.

Eric: So you have over 800 contributors, how many full time employees are there?

Rob: We have between 50 and 60, full time, employees. And, and for us, it's always we, you know, we want to keep a small, a small core group, and we'll be we'll be growing that in the future, but never in the, I think not in the case where we'll have 2000 3000 4000 people, it'll always be a combination.

Eric: And do you leverage a contributor network on the marketing side as well? Or is that a full time slash agency team more of a traditional setup?

Rob: I do. And that's been from a management perspective, it's been a, it's been a learning curve. It's, it's interesting. You know, I will get, you know, in the beginning, I had, you know, this, he was a fairly successful lawyer, who loved writing, and loved science fiction, writing and love writing about Hyperloop. So he would call me every week and say, How can I help? What can I? What can I write about? And, you know, and, you know, he would take some time in the weekend and put some things together. Some of it was was a little bit out there, but but often it was, it was helpful and non traditional. So we have that kind of passion with with our group. We've been fortunate enough, though, that Harvard Business School has published two, two case studies on us, I get the opportunity once a semester to kind of teach the case at Harvard, USC and a few other university. So yeah, it's been it's been a really interesting journey. And, you know, it's one, I think that that is two things. One is it's fueled mostly by passion. So you know, there's much less of a carrot and a stick of traditional traditional arrangements, my entire marketing and most of design team, we've built by, you know, we we bring on a contributor who's who's seems like they can provide value, and they're absolutely amazing once you start working together. So, you know, I say, hey, Juliet, you have you absolutely have to be a part of the team full time, because, and this is not something that that I could predict, I'm not good enough to predict it by resume. But by working together a little bit, you realise and so that's how we build our core team is that, you know, we found the people that kind of work best in our culture, and we've, you know, we realised that we, you know, we can't let them go, in a sense.

Eric: So how long do contributors need to commit? For in order to have the chance to get involved? I'm asking for a friend.

Rob: Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, I think, you know, Eric, we, we started off with the idea, okay, 10 hours a week minimum, but we've relaxed that. And, you know, it's really, it's really situation dependent. So, we have, we have some specialised engineers, who we really don't need weekly and they sometimes they don't have time, weekly. But, you know, as we as we confront problems, we can, we can pull in teams together, to help to help to solve them. So, there's a lot of flexibility around our contributor model now.

Eric: Fascinating. Okay, so drilling into your marketing team. So what does that look like in terms of full time people contributors that you tap into external support, like agencies or more pay as you go freelancers, was the actual marketing function look like within HTT? So we know we have there, there are four full time people in the in our marketing department. Right now. We have probably 10 to 20 different contributors, who are who are on and off depending on depending on our needs. A agency a few different PR agencies. We have a creative director who's in New York, who's who's a contributor. So it's a it's a, it's a very small core team. That, you know, for us, it's really important that we that we have people that are flexible enough to do kind of the entire spectrum of, of marketing and design. on that, because because it's not necessarily a traditional role, I mean, the the needs of today may not represent the needs of tomorrow. So we need to have a lot of flexibility. And we need a lot of resiliency, because we're not, we may be doing something, you know, fairly quickly on a tight turnaround that needs to be translated to Chinese. And so we've been able to work with our core team, and then we'll have people you know, we can, we can pass things off to people that are on different time zones and wake up in the morning and see. So really, it's the The Contributor model allows us to never stop if we do it, right.

Eric: So talking about how you build the brand and drive growth of the eight HTT business as the CMO, I guess the place to start is, you know, can you give us an overview of how you think about or how you've built the marketing strategy, because there's so obviously, there's a product at the end of the day, but it's not here. Now, it's not something that people can buy, I would imagine there's a piece of it, that is Employer Branding, as it were, you know, the contributor network, that's a huge part of how you're going to do what you want to do. So there's that element of it as well. There's kind of how do you take something that is more futuristic and make it simple, kind of like you were explaining it at the beginning like that, to me made it so much more digestible in terms of okay, I can see what this actually looks like and how it could appeal to someone like me. And then of course, you've got the X Factor of Elon Musk plug in and around the space. So so many different variables, so many things going on, break it down for us, like open the hood on the marketing strategy for HTT.

Rob: Yeah, we're, we're, you know, in a sense where the company without a billionaire, alright, so we're, we're the first Hyperloop first type of company, there's no Elon Musk, in our company, there's no Richard Branson. So that's there's, there are advantages and disadvantages there. So I think for us, it's really about, you know, gives us the opportunity to, you know, we, we're not, we're not seen as that person, or seen as the brand. So it's, you know, we, and we were a small, we were a small team in the beginning with contributors, who are expressing the, who were expressing the brand and a lot of different ways. So for us, it was really important to get down and figure out what, you know, what, who we who we are, what we stand for, and our and our visual identity and be very, very strict about enforcing that around the world. A couple of things one is in supporting. One is that, you know, we had a lot of people in the beginning are talking about the speed of sound. So this is travel at the speed of sound. So Eric, if you, if we were, if we were to, if I were to say, okay, get him get in my capsule and tube, and we're going to we're going to go the speed of sound, you might be, you might be all for it. And there are about 10 to 15% of people that are that are like strapped me in, put me on the rocket and and I want to take a ride. But a lot of a lot of people are uncomfortable with that travelling the speed of sound. But the reality is that we we know that feeling because we're, you know, we're going 500 600 and sometimes more miles per hour in a plane. So we, you know, and essentially, first Hyperloop will be really aeroplane speed on the ground. So early on, we've, you know, we've tried to change the way we talk about it the way we think about it from, from this superlative super fast transportation system to this, it's a system that's going aeroplane speed on the ground, but it's doing so efficiently, safely and sustainably. And that those kind of pivots in the pivot from from something that was seen as far away future. Because when when you talk about Hyperloop to people, you know, again, that's because we haven't seen transportation and new transportation our lifetime. It's easy to imagine it in these Hollywood settings, where, you know, we're in a 2050s 2016 2070s Everything's vertical. And eventually, eventually, like things go to things go to shit in the movie. So things pull up and and so what we've tried to bring it down into the world of today instead of the world of work the faraway future. So everything with the, you know, all of our work with the brand has really been driving that point that you know, and it's it's for us as well, it's, you know, we're we're having a lot of conversations with God, obviously governments around the world who are trusting us to build transportation system that are safe for their people, with investors who are looking at the Hyperloop and a lot of the stories or a lot of stories of progress are not that sexy. In in reality regulations are more challenging in a sense than the technology itself. So for us, it's been five years of work and building regulation. Isn't building safety protocols, and doing all the small things and bringing on bringing up partners in that space to make sure that that, that, you know, we have the tech but to be able to build it. So it all revolves around around credibility, the company, I mean, for us, it's, you know, we, we, we know that there's zero tolerance for, for for anything to go wrong and Hyperloop system. So our marketing effort reflects that as well. So I think I mean, things, things have small spelling mistakes, or, you know, we're we're very attuned to that, because we know that, that what you're expecting from us this company is, is, is flawless this and travel. And that's not that's not a lofty goal, the bullet train in Japan has not had a single fatality in those almost 60 years. That's, that's actually very possible. So, so credibility. So credibility, is a really important, a really important element for us.

Eric: And is that the main marketing objective? Because obviously, it's not selling tickets to passengers, it sounds like it's not, you know, selling big contracts to governments, is it really focused on credibility? Or is there a different way that you think about the objective that the marketing function is looking to drive?

Rob: Yeah, I mean, for us, it's really about communicating. The fact that this is a transportation system that is being built, that is going to offer that is going to deliver on these promises. And when we we talked about the promises are there they can, they can seem pretty out there. For example, you know, if we were building a Hyperloop, from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, on top of the Hyperloop system, we're we're applying solar panels. So what it what it becomes as an LA to Vegas, massive solar farm, in the places where it's above ground. And the Hyperloop system in itself uses very little energy and operations. So the energy we collect in solar exceeds the energy we would use in an operation. So it's more than, you know, it's not, it's not putting the marketing scoring into engineers, so that we have the potential to build a system, that's actually that's actually generating more energy than it's using, that can give back to the grid. It creates a lot of interesting design. Design challenges. When you're designing pylon, you know, how can we use that pylon? Can you plug into it? Can you plug your electric vehicle into it? Can we provide services to land or landowners along the way, so it's really, you know, our job is to, to deliver that information in a way that that's, that's not fanciful. It's not, that's not magical, that's credible. And there's also the challenge of we have, the technology is still fairly linked to Elon Musk. So there's a, there's a divide of, you know, how people feel about him, at least in the States, and how they feel about the technology. So if they, a lot of people, if they if they like, Elon Musk has done some great things, they're going to be a fan of Hyperloop and the converse there, they're going to believe that this is some kind of snake oil. So we have this challenge of, you know, there's a vocal minority from it was much bigger in the beginning saying this is, this is something that's just going to blow up. And, and, and it's never going to work. And so we've, you know, we heard that in the beginning, and we build it. And we still hear a little bit today. So our challenge is really building a new transportation system in a world of nonbelievers. The, the the reality is the second time, Eric, you ride Hyperloop is going to be like, No, it's like you live in the world of Hyperloop. And it's completely normal. But the first time is the first time is really the thing, the hurdle that we need to get over. For us, there's always a challenge as well of, of company versus industry. Because we, you know, we still have, you know, even though Hyperloop has a we have this amazing voice with Hyperloop. And people are very interested in it used to, we could still be spending our time talking about Hyperloop as a, as a as an industry, or Hyperloop TT and the kind of the what the promise that we're delivering. So there's always a balance between for us, you know, is this a, you know, do we spend our time educating about Hyperloop? Or do we spend our time educating about our brand?

Eric: And so what does that look like in output? So that philosophy, that strategy, the story that you're telling or want to be telling to the world? How do you actually do that where the rubber meets the road on comms?

Rob: Yeah, it's, I mean, a lot of our honestly a lot of our work is is is and has been one on one. So in meeting rooms, you know, we're we're in meetings or our executives are in meetings every week with Um, you know, with someone and a lot of the work is really is really telling the story to them in a way where in a way where it's credible, and then it kind of masks, you know, everything from, you know, traditional communication pieces via social media to, to some to some constant short form videos that we that we've produced to, to announcing our achievements. And the challenge with that is that we've, you know, in the beginning, there was a, you know, we would,you would do would do everything was was amplified, in a big way, we built the first passenger cam capsule major announcement, we built the first system major announcement, and now we're in this period where a lot of incremental improvements we've brought on a partner to, to assess the, to it to assess and improve the safety of the system. We've moved forward with regulations with with a document, and it's all it's all building towards towards a story. It's a little bit like nuclear fusion in a way where, you know, there are a lot of advancements that are happening in nuclear fusion, but it's still not there. Right. So the there's a, we're, we're getting closer and closer. And for us, it's really about, about the milestones along the way, that

Eric: A random question that just popped to mind. Before I know, we need to wrap this up. So I mentioned at the beginning, before we started recording that our business is all about trying to build successful challenger brands. Do you think of Hyperloop Transportation Technology, like the brand that you're responsible for? Or the broader Hyperloop brand in general, the brand of the technology? Do you view that as a challenger? And if so, how does that work into your thinking as CMO?

Rob: Yeah, I think I think both are, you know, both would would qualify as, as challenger brands, you know, because we're building, we're building something completely new. For you know, and it, it goes in that that type of thinking goes into really the every day, I mean, for for Hyperloop TT, we, you know, we're building this brand as you would any other iconic brand. So, you know, any of the, these these iconic brands you can think of, we need to have a presence, like, you know, like, like they would we need to the visual, the visual, the visual needs to be creative, and stunning and interesting. The, you know, all the details, we need to really, you know, perform on on the highest level to be able to bring this to life. So we're still in a sense, a small organisation who's who have internal internal expectations of being, you know, an iconic and legacy brand.

Eric: So before I let you go, Rob, last question that I always ask at the end of every interview, if people listening to this, what is one thing that they should be doing differently based on your experience and perspective?

Rob:That's a great question. So narrowing it down to one thing, one thing differently, I think, building resiliency in your teams. So we've, you know, we've we're a company that's seen the extremes over the years, we have extreme, extremely high moments and extremely low moments. And we've been fortunate enough. I think that's, that's hard enough, in a sense that we're an extremely resilient team that we can wake up and as whatever the day throws at us, I feel like we can overcome. So. So if I were to if I were to look back and give myself advice. You know, 10 years ago, I would say, I would say that I would say resiliency and toughness.

Eric: Love that. All right, Rob, this has been fascinating. I've always been personally curious about this technology, and about how you know you and other people are building a business around it and just the future of transportation in general. So this was really, really fun for me, and I appreciate you taking the time.

Rob: My pleasure. Thanks so much for for having me on. It was it was a great conversation. Enjoyed it. Cool.

Eric: And hope to see you in a couple of weeks and LA.

Rob:Yep, for sure.

Eric: All right, take care.

Scratch is a production of rival. We are a marketing innovation consultancy that helps businesses develop strategies and capabilities to grow faster. If you want to learn more about us check out If you want to connect with me, email me at or find me on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed today show, please subscribe, share with anyone you think might enjoy it. And please do leave us a review. Thanks for listening and see you next week.

Have a thought on this topic? We’d Love to hear it.

Thank you for sending us your thoughts!
Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please check that all fields are complete.
Find another article

Quick jump

Breakthrough ideas and insights from challenger brands, straight to your inbox

Join over 5,300 marketing leaders from Google, F1, Monzo, and more. ideas and insights from challenger brands, straight to your inbox

face of a womanface of a manface of a womanface of a womanface of a manface of a womanface of a womanface of a manface of a womanface of a woman
By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.