The university I teach at is right in the target area of the newly proposed Hyperloop route of Chicago-to-Columbus-to-Pittsburgh. This route, one of 10 route proposals accepted by the California-based company, Hyperloop One, could magnetically tube travelers at speeds up to 800 MPH.
Yes, 800 MPH is what some experts say can happen. Additionally, a recent NY Times article quotes the Hyperloop One Chief Executive stating the company's goal is to have three full-scale hyperloop systems implemented and running by 2021.
Imagine if this happens, and we make the big assumption that it will be safe/secure, reliable, and reasonably priced to ride.
Now, imagine the real possibility of living in your hometown of Pittsburgh to raise a family, yet you commute to work in Chicago, in less than an hour.
Other routes, such as NYC to Washington DC and San Francisco to LA have also won proposals with Hyperloop One. Leisure travel, business travel, commuting, and freight shipping will change dramatically.
Business Ecosystem Expansion
There is one benefit that does not necessarily leap to mind with the Hyperloop possibility, and that benefit is the positive change in the ecosystem scope of business.
Let me explain:
You live in a geographic area with a business ecosystem, where vendors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, consumers, etc. all buy/sell, live, work, play and interact, but with the addition of a hyperloop, the landscape of the ecosystem is expanded geographically, even on an every day basis.
A July 2017 NY Times article articulates that actual commute time will not be changing all that much with a hyperloop, it will be the territory commuted that will change. This is an important distinction, and it has complicated yet positive implications for the business ecosystem of a geographic area.
Many of us commute 30-60 minutes to work already, we buy gas, stop for a coffee, grab groceries, run the kids to daycare, then pick them up on the way home, etc. Others hop on public transportation, such as a subway ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan, and those folks also grab coffee, drop kids off, etc.
With a speedy Hyperloop transportation system, these aspects or basic behaviors of commuting and the time it takes will not change, but the scope of territory and consumer choices will certainly change.
With a hyperloop, your hometown area may no longer just be the Pittsburgh area, it may become the Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh area.
To illustrate, you work in Chicago--live in Pittsburgh--drop the kids off at your cousin's daycare in Columbus.
Daily you do lunch at a downtown Chicago eatery or food truck, contribute to the Columbus economy with your daycare choice, and live at home in Pittsburgh, attending Pirates games and getting home delivery deep dish pizza from Chicago.
Infrastructure and transportation creates the ecosystem of local economies and businesses. With a new scope of territory (Chicago--Columbus--Pittsburgh), big and small businesses and entrepreneurs have a bevy of new opportunities and more customers to serve geographically.
Consumers no longer live in the Pittsburgh area, they live, shop, and work in the Midwest Hyperloop area (Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh). That's the change, and the big benefit of a hyperloop system for businesses.
Use Systems Thinking
A nice hack for small businesses and entrepreneurs would be to use systems thinking to brainstorm business ideas and scout out blossoming opportunities: The hyperloop area would be the new system, but it needs all the subsystems to make it work-- interconnected subsystems.
To name just a few subsystem ideas-- platform entrances and exits, elevators and escalators, contracting needs, public and private security, ticketing kiosks and electronic readers, maintenance services, food and convenience outlets, entertainment options, and on and on. A new broader-scoped business ecosystem is developed--such as the Midwest Hyperloop system, providing many entrepreneurial opportunities.
Keep a keen eye on hyperloop developments, especially the massive change that would happen with expanded consumer choices and territories in which we all live, work, and play.