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Questions to the Private Space sector

Posted by: MarsDriver - Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:46 am
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Questions to the Private Space sector 
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Post Questions to the Private Space sector   Posted on: Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:46 am
If anyone can provide any feedback here it would be appreciated. I'm assuming this site/forum gets alot of visits from those involved in new space efforts so I'd like to ask some questions.

First, what is currently the most popular method of funding a space start up?
Second- Are there any similarities with business plans with space start ups?
Third, how much (say out of 100%) do new space companies rely upon non space applications and services to generate their revenue (especially in regrds to business plans)? I know of a few that already do this so would be interested to hear what the facts are.
Fourth- Connected to the question above, to what degree do space start ups use their "space" marketing/image to market non space products or services?
Fifth- What kind of success or not, are new space companies having with attracting real funds and full funding targets?
Sixth- What is your view of the general non space public (as a potential market)? Do you feel they are useless, helpful, have potential, etc? (in regards to purchasing your products and services). What work needs to be done to improve this area of PR?
Seventh- What is your view of space advocate groups as a potential source of volunteers and financial support? How many here are involved in a space advocate group?
Eighth- With some of the mega projects like Moon bases, Mars missions, space solar power, asteroid mining etc, What plans do your companies have to aquire funding for these sorts of projects or are they too big and to be left to governments only? What value do you place in such projects with regards to cheap space access development? Can you see any connections between these mega projects and space development here and now?
Ninth- Has anyone here thought of forming a consortium so that you can band together and use your combined resources to achieve your goals? Are there flaws with this approach in your opinion?

To me it just seems like we have all these tiny space start ups with tiny amounts of funding all approaching their own goals which are way beyond what resources they have, when we could be joining together to give each other a hand up. I know it might be a radical concept, and maybe against "capitalism" in the classic sense, but this sector has some unique challenges ahead of it which really require lateral thinking and unique responses. Trying to impose the old model of how these companies get funded (through VC's, banks etc) seems not to be working very well in all honesty. Maybe that might change, but here's the problem- Some company might develop some radical new space technology that can do all sorts of wonderful things, but it's getting to there from here that's the problem. You need money to develop radical new concepts, but the VC investor community seems to be saying "You develop the vehicles, you make it all safe, you provide a market, THEN we'll think about funding you".

How can new space companies develop any of their concepts properly when they haven't got the funds to do so? It seems the only truly successful ones were those who self funded like Elon Musk with SpaceX, Branson with Virgin, or Bigelow and Jeff Bezos. All the rest seem to be struggling for funds. So if they haven't got the funds to develop their ideas, how do they get to their goal?

Lastly, would the new private space sector be interested in having an in depth consumer survey done to demonstrate where potential markets might be? Some surveys have been done, but much more needs to happen in this area. Without a market you can never raise investment.

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Post Re: Questions to the Private Space sector   Posted on: Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:47 am
1. Create and sell a internet startup and use the funds for Space dev. (SpaceX, Blue Origin)


5. Very little.

8. Even governments can't afford that stuff at the moment.

9. Trying to get a room of engineers who work for the same company to agree is bad enough - try doing it over multiple companies....


"So if they haven't got the funds to develop their ideas, how do they get to their goal?"

They don't.


Sorry to appear so negative, but there is a recession on.


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Post Re: Questions to the Private Space sector   Posted on: Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:09 pm
I'll be more optimistic - it IS possible, but only if you have a very strong and compelling alternative (or in fact primary) use for your technology that will actually sell. Before you can even consider getting real funding however, you have to demonstrate at least 3 things: a) experienced and talented management, b) a market share, preferably in the form of existing (small) contracts from potential future customers, and c) intellectual property. no one wants to invest in something without any patents or other IP.

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Post Re: Questions to the Private Space sector   Posted on: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:50 am
Quote:
I'll be more optimistic - it IS possible, but only if you have a very strong and compelling alternative (or in fact primary) use for your technology that will actually sell. Before you can even consider getting real funding however, you have to demonstrate at least 3 things: a) experienced and talented management, b) a market share, preferably in the form of existing (small) contracts from potential future customers, and c) intellectual property. no one wants to invest in something without any patents or other IP.
I'll be more optimistic - it IS possible, but only if you have a very strong and compelling alternative (or in fact primary) use for your technology that will actually sell. Before you can even consider getting real funding however, you have to demonstrate at least 3 things: a) experienced and talented management, b) a market share, preferably in the form of existing (small) contracts from potential future customers, and c) intellectual property. no one wants to invest in something without any patents or other IP.


So-
1. Find a primary use for your technology or service
2, Experienced and talented management
3. A Market (share), contracts from potential or existing customers
4. IP/Patents

I'd add-
5. Timing
6. Professional business plan

Current markets might be- space agencies, commercial satellite companies, launch vehicle and aerospace contractors, and maybe a little for space tourism. It would be great to see space agencies starting to value cheaper/better ways of getting their hardware into space, maybe the private sector could lobby more in this area? COTS was a good start anyway.

Finding a market seems to be the bottleneck, it seems rather limited at present.

As to the recession, yes, true, but it doesn't mean everyone goes down. Some companies thrive in this time, others have new opportunities as other players are removed from the market.

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Post Re: Questions to the Private Space sector   Posted on: Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:34 pm
I think I can say it with one word: profit.
Any private business needs to be able to demonstrate that it will make a profit for its investors. Going into space and mars may be cool, but without a profit motive no one will invest. On the other hand, if you can convince people that they will get money by investing, they will be incentivized to invest whether they care about space or not. This is true for any business, space or otherwise. So: how will your business generate a better profit relative to its risks than another business?

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Post Re: Questions to the Private Space sector   Posted on: Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:50 pm
MarsDriver wrote:
If anyone can provide any feedback here it would be appreciated. I'm assuming this site/forum gets alot of visits from those involved in new space efforts so I'd like to ask some questions.

Ninth- Has anyone here thought of forming a consortium so that you can band together and use your combined resources to achieve your goals? Are there flaws with this approach in your opinion?


The goal of any private business is first and foremost to make a profit. If businesses form a consortium to go to mars, they have to share all the profits. Also, a consortium eliminates competition. Competition generates efficiency. The best way to get businesses to go to mars or space is to make a monetary prize- This incetivizes businesses to invest money to get money, and leaves the "how" up to the businesses themselves. But whoever is sponsoring the prize loses the money. If your goal is to reach mars, or space, rather than to make a profit for yourself, then I think a prize is the way to go. So what exactly is your goal- is it to reach space, or to make money? If it's both, which do you put first? Space, or profit?

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