He then found himself considering a career on Wall Street, doing something he didn’t want to do away from where he wanted to be: back in Vermont.
“There is a brain drain” among engineers in his home country, he said. “People go to college and come back at 40, because they realize that San Francisco or Boston is not the cat’s meow.” Back in Burlington in his mid-twenties, Mr. Clark became director of engineering at a company that designed power converters for Tesla.
In 2017, he attended a conference where Ms Rothblatt presented her case for an electric helicopter.
“There were about 30 people in the room, none of which excited me,” Ms Rothblatt recalled. “Then Kyle stood up and said, ‘I’m an electronics and power systems specialist, and I’m confident that we can meet your specifications with a demo flight in the next one to two. years.’ Other people were shaking their heads. He was probably the youngest in the room. So I came up to him during the break and said, ‘Where’s your business located?’ And he said, ‘I live in Vermont.’ »
A few weeks later, after a second meeting, Mr. Clark drew a watercolor of his design and sent it to Mrs. Rothblatt. Within hours, $1.5 million in seed capital for Beta Technologies had been wired into his bank account.
“He drew a nice design,” Ms Rothblatt said.
A prototype with four tilting propellers was assembled in eight months, with Mr. Clark piloting the vehicle himself. Built in Burlington, the aircraft was to fly over Lake Champlain, away from population centers.
“It was so much fun to ride it that we found an excuse every chance we could,” Clark told an MIT audience in 2019. In the end, though, it turned out that it had an overly complex design and Mr. Clark threw it away. outside. He created a simplified prototype inspired by the arctic tern, a slow-moving little bird capable of flying strange distances without landing.
Since then, Beta’s workforce has grown from 30 to more than 350. The company’s headquarters has expanded to multiple buildings surrounding the runway at Burlington International Airport, with plans for a campus additional 40 acres.