Uber Flying Cars And Keeping Your Goals Realistic

Episode 36

In this episode of The Stretch Goals Podcast, we’re going to talk about how to set realistic goals, unlike Uber, who wants to build flying cars.

Find us on Twitter @The_Scott_Davis or @RobDickersonJr


Robert: In this episode of The Stretch Goals Podcast, we’re going to talk about how to set realistic goals, unlike Uber, who wants to build flying cars.

Scott: By 2020.

Robert: This is The Stretch Goals Podcast, where each week we’ll share insights and lessons learned based on our experiences as entrepreneurs. We’ll challenge you to create ambitious goals as you start and grow your business. I’m your host, Robert Dickerson.

Scott: I’m Scott Davis.

Robert: Uber came out this week with an article that they are going to build flying cars, by 2020, right?

Scott: Yeah, yeah. They’re not necessarily building the cars. What they are doing is they are going to partner with companies that have vertical lift off cars. They’re going to roll this out in Dallas, Fort Worth and Dubai by 2020 was their statement, in their official statement. How this applies to what we’re talking about here on The Stretch Goals Podcast is the FAA has a longstanding legacy of taking forever to approve anything that flies in the air. You’re talking about transporting people in high volume. I think there was going to be 18 different stations. Each of these cars, flying cars, planes, cars, what do we call them? Each of these vehicles, transportation units. I feel like we’re in The Jetsons. Each of these vehicles can travel 100 miles in 40 minutes. It’s over 100 miles an hour. Probably like 120 miles an hour or something like that. They’re going to be transporting passengers, on demand passengers.

The FAA, there’s no way that the FAA, if you filed it today, would have this thing approved by 2020. All of the testing and things like that. What Uber has done, is they’ve sensationalized this idea to get some attention, to get some marketing traffic, and get the eyes on their company. I mean, it’s sensationalism.

Robert: People can’t even drive on the road. I don’t know if I want to be in the air with them when they’re trying to … I think, we were trying to figure out, how do we tie this in to business. I think that’s a good point that you made. It’s kind of sensationalizing these ideas in order to generate traffic to your site. I think it’s also about how do you set realistic goals or how do you set these big ideas, these big visions, that you can drive your company towards.

Scott: What’s happened here is that Uber has now set the bar for their own achievement. If they don’t hit this 2020 goal, they’re going to look stupid. If we talk about the reality of it, they’ve done the same thing that Hyperloop has done, which is, “Hey, we’ve got this idea. We’re going to put all the pieces together, but you guys are going to go make all the pieces for us. Then we’re all going to go put it together and it’s going to run.” It’s the same concept here. Uber’s not building the cars. Uber wants to provide the service. Oh, and by the way, somebody else is going to go build the cars and they’re going to go partner with all these different guys.

The problem is, they’re going to be held to the standard that they’ve now set for themselves through this marketing campaign, which, in my opinion is what this is, right? It’s to bring attention to Uber and maybe get their next round of funding and get people’s eyes going, “Oh, what’s Uber doing next?” Right? It’s all a marketing play in my opinion, but now they’re going to be held to that standard.

Robert: Yeah. It’s good to set your vision and set goals. A lot of companies do it to create demand, to figure out where they fit in the market to set themselves up for the feature. It’s good to do that kind of thing. It’s also good to set realistic goals of what you’re trying to do. I know we talked about this in a previous episode of throwing out there what you’re going to do and setting those goals. It can be difficult, right, to do those kind of things?

Scott: Yeah. This is classic overcommittal, in my opinion. We talked about that in episode 11, how to avoid overcomitting yourself. Uber has really just bitten off more than they can chew. Look. They’ve got a lot of employees and, sure, they could make all the pieces work by then. I don’t doubt that. Getting through the FAA process, that’s an independent entity that you cannot control and therefore you cannot guarantee timelines on. It’s just like filing for a patent. You know it’s going to take probably six months, but it might take a year. You just don’t know. To guarantee a date, to me, is just shooting yourself in the foot.

I mean, maybe I’ll be wrong. Maybe in three years, when we’re on episode 509, we’re going to talk about how stupid I was to have said that Uber couldn’t do this by 2020. I’m not saying technically it can’t be done. I’m saying legally it’s not going to be ready.

Robert: Do you like the idea of coming up with these grandiose ideas and publicize them? I know in a couple episodes now we’ve talked about not thinking about that and really focusing on a core MVP. Now we’re talking about the opposite of that, which is coming up with this grand idea and throwing it out there to the world.

Scott: It’s the exact opposite, you’re right. It absolutely is. When I have crazy ideas, this is a crazy idea. When I have crazy ideas, I usually keep them to myself. Or I’ll tell somebody, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we really had the time or the resources to …”

Robert: If you push your ideas out there, you create a discussion around them, right?

Scott: Right, and that’s what they’ve done, right?

Robert: Right.

Scott: They’ve created …

Robert: Good or bad, right, it creates a discussion around is it feasible?

Scott: Correct.

Robert: Sometimes throughout my career those kind of ideas have pushed me to think of new solutions that I might not have. I’ve worked with people that really think in that, like, I guess that stratosphere, right? They really think about the larger vision and how you can solve it. They really push their teams and the people to come up with innovative ideas and approaches. This can be one way to throw something out there and get people to try to think outside the box of how can we really do this? What is the feasibility of this? How would we actually get there?

Scott: Sure, but doesn’t that make you worry, though? We’re talking about cars that are in the air, which, regular cars, they get in an accident, and the car stops. We’ve got airbags, right? You don’t fall to the ground after you hit something. That means we’re going to have to have deployable parachutes, which only work from certain heights, right? If you’re 100 feet up and you hit a light pole, you’re falling to the ground. There’s not much hope for you. I mean, that’s just being realistic. That’s a whole other thing.

What I’m saying is that, yeah, you can challenge these people and let’s say they get it done. Let’s say the FAA approves it. What shortcuts did you take to get this rolled out by 2020? We don’t have any large scale flying cars right now? We’ve got these vertical take off, pseudo, one person helicopter type things, which are great. We’ve got some light aircrafts. That’s great. They work well. They took 20 years to get the market. Now we’re going to be there in three years and be putting massive amounts of people on these things? I don’t know, man.

Robert: Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t seem feasible. I can barely fly my drone.

Scott: What happened, too? Uber was one of these companies that has launched self-driving vehicles in the last year and spent a lot of time and money on it. Now they’re giving up on it to go with flying vehicles?

Robert: Yeah. I don’t know how serious they are about this. I feel like it’s just kind of something to drive interest, to drive traffic. There’s been so much negative publicity around Uber lately that I was just reading.

Scott: I agree.

Robert: They were tracking people. They were trying to fingerprint devices.

Scott: They’re losing money left and right.

Robert: Not that they’re the only company doing that.

Scott: It’s not to dissimilar from what Donald Trump did in his campaign. It’s these sensational ideas, these marketing ploys to keep the attention on you and keep people wondering what you’re going to do next.

Robert: I think it can be good to get feedback to kind of throw out your vision. We’ve been talking about testing your vision. We talked about your MVP and the core strategy. Now we’re talking about the opposite where you take this grand vision and you throw it out there. You see what sticks. You see what feedback that you get from that. Use that to refine your product and maybe incorporate some of those things and figure out the actual path you need to take without spending a bunch of money trying to get there initially.

Scott: The difference, though, the difference here is that Uber’s so big. When they make a headline like this, they’re going to get people from all over the world saying, “Hey, I can help with this.” Right? Then they break it down into a piece that they own. It’s like NASA right? You’ve got a team that works on this piece. You’ve got another team that works on this piece. This is the same thing where you’re basically outsourcing to the world this idea. Can that be done in the start up and small business space, sure, but not on the same scale. You can share your ideas with people and let them help and come in. Yeah, you’re right. Sharing your idea gets feedback. It gets validation and it also maybe gets some people offering to help.

Robert: There is this big idea now, I’ve seen a lot of, where people are creating competitions around all sorts of different concepts and ideas. I kind of have mixed feelings about it. I actually competed in one of the competitions and submitted a solution. The reason that I did it was because there was a lot of information that I gained from the competition material. They outlined the problem and they had a lot of research behind the problem. I took it as, “I don’t really care if I win, but if I can develop a solution and fit my product into their problem.” Right? It’s a way to get that problem statement without you having to go out and engage with customers. That’s the part I like about competition.

The part I don’t like is that when the competition’s over you don’t get a lot of feedback, right? You’re not connecting with those people to get feedback on your idea. There’s really nothing coming back. Other than you having a chance to think about your idea and developing something that you might be able to take to a larger audience, there’s really not that feedback there. When you’re thinking about throwing out some grandiose idea, if you think about these competitions, if you think about, “How can I get feedback from this idea?” Whether through social media, whether through connections to other people, like you were saying. I mean, there are some benefits there to throwing things out there.

Scott: For sure, yeah. I mean, if you win the contest, you get some feedback.

Robert: Yeah. I mean, and that was, to me, one of the biggest things, was that feedback. I mean, I’m always looking to get feedback and to get experiences with other people, to get of customers, of how they would use it. That’s really a critical piece. If you think about Uber and then throwing this out there, they’re getting some publicity from it, right?

Scott: They’re getting feedback.

Robert: Which is probably a positive thing, and they’re getting that feedback, right? Even if it’s negative or even if it’s like, “You’re crazy,” or whatnot.

Scott: Maybe just maybe that they really did this because they want to do it but they didn’t have the solution. By throwing it out there, they’re getting the solution for free, by getting the ideas from other people.

Robert: Right. I mean, it could be really smart.

Scott: There you have it. Flying cars, flying cars by 2020.

Robert: Yeah. I’m going to stay on the road.

Scott: Me too, unless I have a big parachute. Thanks for listening, guys. Check us out on YouTube, social media. Thanks for listening to this episode of The Stretch Goals Podcast. You can access the show notes for this episode and listen to other episodes by heading over to stretchgoals.fm.

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Each week we'll share insights and lessons learned to help you create ambitious goals for your business.

Robert Dickerson


Robert Dickerson is the Founder and CEO of Mapout a mobile learning platform that uses video courses to educate customers and train employees. He helps companies develop and launch their products.

Scott Davis


Scott Davis is the Founder and CEO of MobX, a mobile development software agency. He has 20 years of experience developing software for Government, Finance, Sports and the Telecommunications industry.