The de facto collapse of Christchurch based Martin Aircraft is hardly a surprise. Its comic-book jet-pack product had a fatal flaw being the lack of a meaningful market. Possibly a few nutters might buy one as a novelty but given its limitations they’d soon get bored.
Over the years I’ve received literally thousands of letters from strangers, always male, wanting me to invest in their idea. Putting aside that I have absolutely no interest in investing in anything outside of my specialty field and even with that I’ve been retired for years from active involvement, I would marvel at the silliness and lack of commercial logic in many of these proposals. Some were the hypothetical ‘better mousetrap’ but had zero profit potential, others offered solutions to non-existant problems.
I’ve enjoyed inventing a few things over the years, but only as a mental exercise. With one I even spoke to a patent attorney about it. This was a small pack containing a tiny gas cylinder to blow up a large brightly coloured balloon attached to about 50 metres of string. Mountaineers and trampers would use it when lost, although it would be useless in a storm. I gather there’s now an electronic device that achieves the same end.
A couple of years ago I invented a perpetual motion machine wheel, this involving a wheel and magnets. I explained it to my Wellington manager who agreed it would work. Again, I never did anything about it other than to hugely entertain my science-minded eldest son with my claim, not that I ever explained it to him.
Solving problems is stimulating and some people relish it.
I once asked Wellington office-building developer Mark Dunajtschik how on earth he tolerates the seemingly endless problems which always arise with construction.
“I don’t tolerate them; Instead I hugely enjoy solving them”, he said.
I can understand that but personally would rather avoid problems and instead satisfy my imaginative urges by writing comic novels with off-beat plots.
The worst thing about creativity is being beaten to the punch. This happened to me recently through spreading myself too thin, what with putting the finishing touches on four novellas and diverse other things. What happened was this. I finally found time to get back to planning my military coup takeover of New Zealand which I’d now had to defer until next year. With still a few positions to fill I wrote to Wellington businessman Doug Catley and offered him the bishopric in my new government next year. Too late sunshine, he replied. I’m launching my own coup later this year. Bugger!
Not so sure about that.
“Lack of a meaningful market.” There was a market all be it small, but they limited it even further to only emergency services. At that point I knew it was doomed.
Several other issues, if it had taken off, so to speak, traffic management for one. But I suspect the big hurdle was getting it approved by the various Governments.
Martin Jetpack was always an amazing example of investor stupidity. How it ever got to a brief 300million valuation is beyond me. People I know who worked on the project (a paycheck is a paycheck) were all scathing of it’s merits. It’s a credit to Glenn Martin for his ability to raise money for a lemon of an idea (a true super-power), but that is all.