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Advice at Scale 4

Advice at Scale #4 comes from our speaker Blake Scholl, Founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, a Colorado-based startup that is bringing back commercial supersonic flight.

Blake Scholl is the Founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, which is on a mission to bring back commercial supersonic flight. They are developing a Mach-2.2 airliner called Overture, which would be the world’s fastest civil aircraft. A sub-scale prototype, the XB-1, is set to take flight next year. It is the first independently developed supersonic jet in history.

Blake started his career as a software engineer at Amazon. In 2010, he co-founded mobile technology startup Kima Labs, which was acquired by Groupon in 2012. Blake is an avid aviator, and fascinated by all things aerospace.

We highlighted Boom Supersonic in our article on the most interesting technologies on display at Slush. Check it out here.

1) What are some of the key learnings you’ve had during your journey? Is there something you would have done differently?

The world changes faster than you think. When Boom started 5 years ago, our vision to make supersonic flight mainstream was a fringe idea that most thought was impossible. Just 5 years later, our dream is becoming a reality.

Initially, we didn’t think we could sell a single plane prior to flying our plane, but we already have deals with Virgin Group and Japan Airlines. The market is changing faster than I expected, and I’m encouraged by the positive response from our partners.

2) What concrete advice would you give to a fresh startup founder?

Launching a successful startup is hard work, so make sure that whatever endeavor you’re pursuing is one that will keep you passionate in the long run. For me, making supersonic flight mainstream is so personal that even when we’ve hit challenges, I’ve never questioned why I started this company. The success of the company’s mission is more important than anything else. I’ve pushed myself to learn new areas like aviation engineering and calculations for fuel efficiency to help drive the mission forward.

With this motivating mission, my own enthusiasm has been contagious and attracted some of the most talented people to make the mission a reality. Boom is a stark contrast to my first company, where I started with areas I knew (mobile and e-commerce) and theorized what products could exist. I wasn’t really passionate about it, and it ended up a much smaller success than what could have been. If you pick something you deeply believe needs to exist in the world, you’ll end up creating something bigger and more impactful than you previously thought possible.


3) Is there a book or a piece of content that has really shaped the way you think? How?

One line in Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign has greatly shaped the way I view the world: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” To dramatically change the world, you have to embrace the idea and journey before you know it will succeed. It’s not about having the right resume or focusing just on what is possible. It’s about taking the leap of faith to push a mission forward when success is not yet assured.