Opening this Friday, “The Martian” depicts a future most space-enthusiasts would drool over. But in reality, a future where humans make regular trips to other planets will require a lot of help from entrepreneurs, not just NASA. Fortunately, things are moving quickly. According to a recent CB Insights report, as of July, funding for space startups in 2015 has topped investment in the previous three years combined at almost $1.2 billion. Speaking with Chad Anderson, managing director of the Space Angels Network, 2015 has been an exciting year, pointing out how small satellites are hitting the mainstream media, spurred on by Planet Labs’ successes in Earth-observation CubeSats: “There are now more remote sensing start-ups than I can count on both hands.”
What Investors Look For – A Conversation with the Space Angels Network
A complete and humble management team.
Realistic expectations and an understanding of the key assumptions and market dynamics that underlie the business model.
Something completely new OR a way to do something 10x better, faster, cheaper than anyone else in the market.
Near-term profitability. “[The Space Angels Network] is very interested in big vision, opening up new markets and blazing the trail. But we are also looking for companies that can make money along the way. That is really important,” says Anderson.
A clear plan. Anderson added that entrepreneurs don’t have to have it all figured out, but they do have to have a clear vision of where they’re going: “You have to have a really good idea as to what are the key variables of your business plan, and all the reasons why your team is the right team to be the one to pull off what has never been done before.”
Demonstrated resourcefulness. “We’re always thinking about how much an entrepreneur can accomplish with the money we invest. If you’re able to generate market traction with no funding, that’s a pretty good indicator of potential with investment. To succeed in space, you may also need to disrupt some very established players. You have to know what you are getting into, to fly in the face of adversity and be resourceful,” says Anderson.