Partner and CTO, Dharmesh Syal, discusses why DV is investing in the future of mobility with the announcement of our next hackathon, DV Hacks: Mobility.

When most people think about mobility, they think about cars. But “mobility” means far more than just automobiles. It includes all mechanisms that allow consumers, business and goods to seamlessly move across interoperable infrastructures using different human and machine modes interchangeably. From drone-delivered Amazon packages, to point-to-point hyperloops, to self-driving/flying vehicles, the next wave of mobility innovation is closer than you may think.

As the lines between air, surface and indoor infrastructure continue to blur, the global mobility sector will need to adapt to new operating models and forms of customer engagement. Leveraging the progress we’ve made with the sharing economy, autonomous operations and peer-to-peer engagement, these future models represent an entirely new ecosystem for secure, distributed and hyper-personalized mobility services.

But how do we prepare for the future of mobility? It needs a comprehensive innovation process that includes deep ethnographic research and design investigation around desirability, feasibility and viability. We must look at these elements across various use and influence domains, including behavior traits, urban infrastructure, commerce setup, social order, business constructs and many more.

Through this process, we can uncover existing frictions and latent, unmet needs–the driving force behind all innovative disruption. This is the foundation upon which we can then build businesses that will not only be fit for the new mobility ecosystem, but that will fundamentally shape its future.

The Art of Possible

Given the diversity of problems in this domain, it will take a great deal of time and investment to identify the winning concepts and business models which are simultaneously being pursued by large corporate labs in auto, aerospace, insurance, urban infrastructure, tech and so on. As technologists, we have a key role to play here, and collaborating with design and product colleagues is essential to this process. The art of the possible enabled by technology can expose many of these business models much more quickly and with less investment.

Faster market tests with multi-layer platforms and solutions built using blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, edge computing and IoT, will open up a variety of scenarios for running peer-to-peer networks, prediction systems, data sharing and monetization and more. It will also expose the collaboration needed to succeed across mobility modalities, functions and sectors.

The right level of experimentation and pivots from technology’s “art of possible” efforts, combined with the rigor of a design-led approach, will help the industry form the right ecosystems of  enablers.

Such technology platforms and solutions will enable core services allowing business to experiment with different business models they enable. Successful ventures will blend in innovation in computer technologies like pervasive connectivity, blockchain, AI etc. with material, engineering and applied sciences for innovations in aerodynamics, modular construction, energy regeneration, vertical takeoff, adaptable powertrains and many more.

To get ahead in this race, seed capital needs to be deployed to these technology art of possible ventures. Early experimentation through these software driven ventures combined with deep ethno-driven innovation will provide the way for creating future mobility services.

 Introducing DV Hacks: Mobility

Given DV’s unique position at the intersection of business innovation, design and technology, we are excited to focus our hackathon efforts on mobility for spring 2018. For the industry at large, DV Hacks will serve as a catalyst to help open the aperture and undertake broader technology art investments.

We are pleased to announce that this hackathon will be open to a broader community of innovators. The mobility industry isn’t just going to be upended by one person in a garage–we’re looking for powerful, balanced teams that bring new and novel ways of thinking to the table. Strong teams should include at least one technical engineer, a business-minded person that can assist with strategy and financial modeling and a user experience or interface designer.

Teams will win by:

  1. Creating the most impactful solution to a key pain point in the mobility industry
  2. Building the most complete product throughout the weekend of the hackathon
  3. Crafting the best all-around pitch and product

Upping the ante

If you followed along with our 2017 dAppathon, you know that all expenses were paid for participants outside of the Los Angeles area. And that we also gave away over $10k in cryptocurrency as prizes. This year, we’re taking our existing benefits and expanding them to the next level, giving winning teams the opportunity to receive mentorship from our Foundry and the potential for seed investment. We don’t want to see these ideas die after the hackathon, and we’re ‘putting our money where our mouth is’ to make sure that doesn’t happen.

If you have an idea brewing in the mobility space, apply for DV Hacks by March 1. Participants are welcome to have some pre-formed ideas, but no work is to be done prior to the hackathon kickoff on April 13. We operate on the honor system.

Don’t have an idea yet? We have compiled a few articles to get you thinking.

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