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Fontinalis Partners’ Chris Thomas: Risk Is Part of the Game in the Race for the Next Billion-Dollar Mobility Company

Next-generation mobility is not the future, it is happening now, and Detroit has more attributes than any other place in the world to cultivate the next billion-dollar company. That was the key message Chris Thomas, founder and partner of Fontinalis Partners delivered to attendees during a keynote address at the 2017 MICHauto Summit.

Current advancements are laying the groundwork for the future state of mobility, but to win, companies must have the will to take risks.

“It’s not the future, it’s not something that is going to happen, it’s the present,” Thomas said. “This is an industry that has four major components – everlasting innovation, a global ecosystem, dynamic opportunity, and a chance to move to win.”

Crediting his career to “a little bit of chutzpah” and a kind man, referring to Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford, a founding partner of Fontinalis Partners, Thomas explained to conversation host Carla Bailo, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research, that taking risks and asking for what he wanted helped get him to where he is today.

Key Takeaways:

  • Automotive technology is just a fragment of a larger mobility picture.
  • Mobility is a dynamic opportunity – one of the largest markets in our lifetime and Detroit has a chance to lead and win.
  • Mobility is broader than we think; autonomous vehicles are only one part of a larger picture that includes all modes of transportation: air, land and sea.
  • Mobility industry trends have created a fundamentally new business ecosystem.
  • Advancements in technology and infrastructure are driving a new age of accessible mobility and fertile ground for entrepreneurs.
  • The expanding nature of mobility presents challenges and actionable white space opportunities for businesses and investors.