In just six years Nikola Motor has gone from an idea conceived in a basement to a startup hunting for cash to a globally merged company headed for a listing on the Nasdaq. Along the way, founder and CEO Trevor Milton realized the shortest path to success is a straight line — more specifically, a vertical one.
It's a journey that has involved a very strategic approach to ensuring Nikola's long-term profitability amid the challenges new mobility startups face to remain financially sustainable.
Since officially launching in 2016, the Phoenix-based company — which builds hydrogen- and electric-powered trucks — has made vertical integrations a core part of its business strategy while continuing to expand.
"One of the most important factors with Nikola is that we did vertical integration with everything," Milton tells Shift. "Everything — from our supply chain for the truck, to the production of the hydrogen, to the delivery of the fuel to the customer, to the service, to the warranty — will all be controlled and housed by Nikola."
The strategy has helped Nikola achieve a $3.3 billion valuation.
In March the company merged with the publicly held investment and advisory firm VectoIQ.
A pivotal component of Nikola's business model is solidifying strategic investment partnerships with key suppliers to help lower the cost of building trucks.