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As he watched the first Falcon Heavy launch into space on February 6, 2018, Aaron Burnett knew everything was changing for space startups and their prospective founders. Aaron and his wife had recently moved from Buenos Aires to Florida just in time to catch SpaceX’s maiden launch. It was as the rocket boosters touched back down that Aaron recalled, with tears in his eyes, memories of his childhood. All the sci-fi movies he watched, dreams of going into space—they were becoming reality. And a lightbulb slowly went on over his head.
Aaron Burnett LaunchesSpaced Ventures
Ever since the moon landing, our culture has been obsessed with space. From kids playing astronaut to Star Wars to Pixar’s new Lightyear movie. At some point, everyone’s imagination is captivated by the infinite possibilities of space. Such is the case for Aaron, who grew up in New York with a fascination for rockets and science fiction.
Throughout his life, Aaron has led growth for multiple startups as well as a Fortune 500 company. He also taught second grade and worked remotely throughout South America. The moment he and his wife witnessed the Falcon Heavy launch from Cape Canaveral, Aaron knew he wanted to take part in the booming space industry. Therefore, he took his past experience and pitched the idea of creating a venture capital platform where anyone can help fund space startups. It was a long two year process, but as of October 2021, Spaced Ventures has raised $1.2M in seed funding.
Up to the Public
There is a wide misconception in the startup world that unless your company is backed by venture capitalists, it means your company is not good. “90% of companies get stuck in this loop,” Aaron says. For space startups, the battle is even tougher. These companies require intense hardware that costs millions of dollars and research. Often times, VCs don’t want to spend millions of dollars in a startup with no surefire sign they will receive an ROI. Because of this, many startups never fully get off the ground.
Spaced Ventures bypasses this hurdle by placing the funding for space startups in the hands of the public. Now everyday people interested in getting in on the ground floor of these companies can invest as little as $100, whereas current space investing opportunities in private companies mainly exist only for accredited investors and the minimum investments are $25K to $100K. Small investments are much more appealing to the public, which means space startups funded by thousands of people versus a select few have a higher chance of reaching their investment goals.
One of the most recent space startups to fulfill over 500% of their funding goal is Exo-Space, which develops a satellite mountable machine vision device. Delays in space data cause a loss of billions of dollars every year, but Exo-Space allows secure access to space information 10x faster by processing data on orbit.
“The risk is high,” says Aaron, “but we educate our investors.” While Spaced Ventures makes it clear that no investment has a guaranteed ROI, each investor receives actual documentation stating they have an equity stake in their company.
What’s in It for Space Startups?
In addition to overcoming the natural difficulty of finding investors, Spaced Ventures provides space startups with several advantages. One of the most important being the engagement they receive from thousands of investors. Every investor has the potential to share new industry information with their startup and enthusiastically engage with them on social media.
Because many of Spaced Ventures’ investors have an interest in or passion for the space sector itself, the startups may be able to gain an unintended bonus of finding talent or making industry connections through the process. Aerospace engineers and rocket scientists, which are usually hard to discover, are now knocking at the door of these startups. Companies looking for employees with certain skillsets have access to an entire network of investors ready to spread the word.
In order to qualify for Spaced Ventures, startups first need to complete the application process. This includes a basic background check, proof of intellectual property and a license to operate. Once completed, spaces startups can begin raising capital on their platform.
The Future of Space Startups
Though there is much criticism revolving the billionaire space race today, Aaron says there is more to it. The recent advances in space startups prove that space is accessible to the public and Aaron wants to show, through Spaced Ventures, that it is not just for billionaires. “We want to see space succeed and we want to get everyone involved.”
A decade ago, visiting space was just a fantasy for kids. Now, there is a strong chance we can see even our parents launch into space during our lifetime. This is truly an exciting time for anyone who is willing to invest in this booming industry. As Spaced Ventures continues to grow, Aaron, his wife, and their dog, Fermi, will continue watching rocket launches from their balcony in Florida.
What do you think of Aaron Burnett and his commitment to Spaced Ventures? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.