Kirk Hawkins: ICON Aircraft | Summary and Q&A

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March 4, 2014
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Kirk Hawkins: ICON Aircraft

TL;DR

Two entrepreneurs combine their passion for aviation and design to create a safe, affordable, and recreational flying experience.

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Key Insights

  • πŸͺ› Passion and inspiration drive innovation and entrepreneurship in the aviation industry.
  • πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’Ό Identifying market opportunities and conducting market analysis is essential for business success.
  • πŸ—―οΈ Collaboration and finding the right partners are instrumental in bringing ideas to life.
  • πŸ‘‹ Good design, simplicity, and safety are crucial in creating a positive user experience for recreational flying.
  • πŸŽ“ Education and networking in reputable institutions like Stanford University can have a significant impact on entrepreneurial ventures.
  • ⚾ Building a product or service based on a specific lifestyle or power sport can differentiate a business in a competitive market.
  • 🀩 Iterative design processes, including ideation, testing, and repetition, are key to developing high-quality and safe aircraft.

Transcript

[MUSIC] I grew up as a child, enthusiastic passion about doing things that were adventurous. Getting out and exploring the planet, whether that was motorcycles, or boats, or airplanes. Flying was something that when I was very early age, I found very Inspirational. It was the ultimate freedom. Aviation today is really about moving your body from A ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Kirk and Mike meet and decide to start a business together?

Kirk and Mike initially met at Stanford University in a design class. They reconnected later when Mike was teaching product design, and Kirk shared his vision for accessible aviation. Impressed by Kirk's knowledge and passion, Mike decided to join forces with him.

Q: What led Kirk to pursue the idea of Light Sport Airplanes?

Kirk stumbled upon a magazine article about a rule change from the FAA introducing Light Sport Airplanes, a new class of aircraft that would make flying accessible to the average person. Recognizing the potential, he decided to study it further and discovered a large market for these planes.

Q: How does the design of the Icon airplane cater to recreational flying?

The Icon airplane has folding wings, allowing for easy transportation to different locations. It is amphibious, enabling landing on both land and water, expanding the possibilities for recreational activities such as camping, fishing, and exploration.

Q: What role did Stanford University play in the formation of Icon?

Both Kirk and Mike credit Stanford University for their transformative experiences, which influenced the creation of Icon. The networks, connections, and knowledge gained from engineering, design, and business school at Stanford were crucial to the success and growth of the company.

Summary

In this video, the co-founders of Icon Aircraft, Kirk Hawkins, and Mike Blyth, discuss their journey in creating a new class of airplanes called Light Sport Airplanes. They talk about their passion for adventure and flying, as well as the inspiration they found in making aviation accessible and affordable to the average person. They share how they met at Stanford and how their collaboration led to the creation of Icon Aircraft. They also emphasize the importance of their Stanford education in shaping their business acumen and design process. Ultimately, their goal is to create a power sport around recreational flying and provide a unique and safe flying experience for their customers.

Questions & Answers

Q: What inspired Kirk Hawkins and Mike Blyth to create Icon Aircraft?

Kirk and Mike were both inspired by their passion for adventure and flying from a young age. They grew up with an enthusiasm for exploring the planet through motorcycles, boats, and airplanes. They found flying to be the ultimate freedom and wanted to make aviation accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

Q: How did Kirk Hawkins and Mike Blyth realize the potential of creating Light Sport Airplanes?

While attending Stanford Business School, Mike happened to come across a magazine article about a new FAA rule change introducing a new class of airplanes called Light Sport Airplanes. This rule change aimed to make airplanes safe, affordable, and accessible to the average person. Mike recognized the potential in this and decided to study it as an academic exercise.

Q: How did Kirk Hawkins and Mike Blyth meet and decide to collaborate on Icon Aircraft?

Kirk and Mike first met in a design class at Stanford. Kirk was impressed by how Mike always found a way to incorporate aviation into their projects. They later reconnected when Mike was teaching product design at Stanford, and Kirk was back at the Stanford Business School. During lunch, Mike showed Kirk a PowerPoint presentation detailing the opportunities in aviation, and Kirk immediately realized Mike was the person he needed for the venture. Kirk called Mike the next morning, and they decided to collaborate.

Q: What is the vision behind Icon Aircraft?

The vision behind Icon Aircraft is to create a power sport around recreational flying. They aim to bring flying to the forefront of recreational opportunities and make it a lifestyle experience. They have designed an amphibious airplane that allows flying and landing on both land and water. With folding wings, the airplane provides transportation flexibility for outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, and exploring.

Q: How did Kirk Hawkins and Mike Blyth leverage their Stanford education in creating Icon Aircraft?

Kirk mentions that his Stanford education gave him the confidence and fundamental business acumen to walk into any boardroom and feel comfortable having a dialogue with business executives. He also credits the toolset he gained at Stanford for helping him create the company. Mike emphasizes that the design process at Icon Aircraft is based on what they learned at Stanford, following the classic ideate, build, test, and repeat model.

Q: What sets Icon Aircraft apart from other airplanes?

Icon Aircraft is unique in its approach to create an unadulterated and unapologetic execution of what flying is romantically designed to be. They focus on delivering a human aspirational experience through their airplane. The A5, their flagship model, is a two-person, one-engine, lightweight, and relatively simple airplane. It is designed to be easy to understand and fly, allowing even new sport pilots to learn in about two weeks.

Takeaways

Kirk Hawkins and Mike Blyth's journey in creating Icon Aircraft showcases the importance of passion, innovation, and a strong education. Their vision to make aviation accessible and enjoyable for everyone led them to create a new class of airplanes, Light Sport Airplanes. Through their collaboration, leveraging their Stanford education, and following a design process learned at Stanford, they have successfully created an aircraft that delivers a unique, safe, and aspirational flying experience. Their dedication to their mission and the support of the Stanford community have been vital in bringing Icon Aircraft from an idea to a reality.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The founders, Kirk and Mike, met at Stanford University while studying engineering and design. They reconnected and realized their shared vision for making aviation accessible to the average person.

  • After conducting a market analysis, they discovered a significant market for a new class of airplanes called Light Sport Airplanes, which were safe, affordable, and easy to obtain a license for.

  • They formed a company called Icon and designed an amphibious airplane that allows for flying and landing on both land and water, with the goal of creating a power sport around recreational flying.

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