How HOSTmi Are Creating A Space Marketplace To Match Payloads With Hosting Opportunities
Pouya & Shahrokh
Tell us your background and about HOSTmi
Pouya Haschemi (PH):
Shahrokh and I studied mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt. Our specialization was within aerospace engineering. Among others, we have worked on a project funded by the GermanSpace Administration DLR. This project, called Space Factory 4.0, aimed to lay the foundation for an automated and unmanned in-orbit production facility for small satellites.
All processes and developments had to be based on the insights gained from industry 4.0. One major topic of industry 4.0 is platform economics. This topic together with the trend of more standardized technical solutions in the space industry was the trigger for us to develop an online platform. In short this is the origin of HOSTmi.
So, HOSTmi is the first online B2B platform within the space market, which mediates globally, flight and hosting opportunities for space payloads on board of diverse space platforms. The spectrum is ranging from suborbital vehicles and orbital satellites - including ISS capabilities - up to deep space platforms. By offering Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), HOSTmi acts independently to best match space experiments and other space payloads with the most suitable hosting opportunities worldwide.
HOSTmi is the first online B2B platform within the space market, which mediates globally, flight and hosting opportunities for space payloads on board of diverse space platforms.
Currently we are a six-man team including software developers and a UX/UI designer. Joerg Kreisel, our mentor, Shahrokh and I, we have founded the company last year in July. Since August the same year we are part of the ESA Business Incubation Center in Darmstadt. The acceptance into this program has not only financially supported us but has also opened up a great network, to which we owe many small and large successes.
How did the idea for HOSTmi come about and what was it like getting started?
Our experiences previously mentioned in combination withIndustry 4.0 standards, which is a major subject in Germany, raised our attention to the deficits within the space market regarding digitalization and the challenges it will face in the near future. These included processes relating to initial phases of a space mission.
With “New Space” the conservative agency business is changing rapidly into a commercial business. Many Startups are founded globally in the space market with exciting new products and services.Satellites with all sizes – from CubeSats, up to big scaled deep space platforms – are built frequently by newcomers and established companies.
Nevertheless, the current space market is still very costly, offers no transparency and is complex. The key to success will be the disruption of the current space market through the transition from conservative value chains to a modern, market-oriented value network. Thus, new tools must be introduced into the market to overcome these barriers. One of these tools is platform economy.
Like many other ideas, ours began with a little thought game and many conversations. After some back and forth a solid business idea was born. Now when I am telling this it sounds easy but believe me, we had many sleepless nights. Anyway, with our idea we turned to our professor who led the Space Factory 4.0 project to present it and to seek his advice. From the outset, we also consulted a variety of space experts.
New tools must be introduced into the market to overcome these barriers. One of these tools is platform economy.
Despite certain gaps within the idea, we received very promising feedback, which of course motivated us to keep going. During this phase we were in the final phase of our studies, working on our master thesis, working part-time to earn some money and starting a company – that was challenging and led as mentioned to very short nights. But doing something with pure passion makes the time a very valuable and exciting one.
How did you fund the company initially?
Shahrokh Khodabakhshi (SK):
In the beginning, we often met in my private apartment or we went to the library of our university. All we needed was a notebook, internet and some good coffee. We started with a concept and detailed it out with every research we did and every conversation we had. And as soon as we believed that a solid base had been created, we started to apply for the ESA Business Incubation Program here in Darmstadt.
With a lot of support from the ESA BIC managers we’ve submitted our application last year in June. With being accepted for this program we realized that we were going to have monetary resources to start making HOSTmi become a reality. With the funding we are currently able to cover the daily expenses. We as founders don’t pay ourselves a salary and, as much as possible, we do invest from our own money.
We are a very young company and with hard work, and of course some luck, we think we are on a good course. But, still, we face uncertainties and challenges every day. One of them, for example, is that we are currently looking for an investment and, thus, we have the pleasure to enjoy all the challenges that come along with this process 😉.
Why is the problem you are solving important and how does it help human space exploration?
Cross-company digital B2C and B2B platforms for supplier comparison have already been implemented in different sectors such as real estate, automotive, transportation and tourism. This has engendered the central administration of customers and their information along with process-optimized data management which has simplified processes and reduced costs. At the same time a strong supply-demand network has been created.
HOSTmi is exactly such a B2B platform. The objective is to transform isolated and simple value chains into fully digitized value-creating networks. With the digitization of value creation, not only products, services and processes are changing, but also the rules of market competition. In this context, HOSTmi will take on the role of a technical economic center and acts as a cross company communication and collaboration tool and offers an economic ecosystem.
This will lead to faster access also for non-space suppliers seeking to demonstrate and verify new technologies and components in orbit. In addition, this may lead to space certification of non-space commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components for spacecrafts. The adoption of COTS components within the space industry is key to reduce costs, increase accessibility and variability and thus accelerate time-to-market.
The certified COTS could then one day also be deployed for manned spacecrafts. Suppliers of automotive and industrial machinery could gradually become suppliers of spaceship components. Thus, a relatively simple and digital solution could have a decisive influence on future commercial or scientific manned space missions.
What are some achievements you're proud of?
Well, things are going fast which is great for us. I think the initial trigger was the early entry into the ESA BIC network. This had a significant influence on the upcoming steps. The first small milestone was the privilege to have been selected by ESA Space Solutions as one of the 24 start-ups worldwide to showcase our company at the IAC 2018 in Bremen.
This in turn generated further attention on us, perhaps also one of the reasons why HOSTmi was chosen as one of the award winners of the Founders Award of the State of Hesse. And, recently, we have been awarded with the second place of the INNO space Masters within the Airbus Challenge.
These are all of course very little steps, which hopefully will help us to reach the ultimate goal. That’s why I think the most important step for us was, that about 3 weeks ago we launched our beta phase and were able to demonstrate that an automated and digitized payload management and flight search engine is not only possible but offers many significant advantages.
What have been some of your biggest challenges? How did you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge for every NewSpace start-up are the established processes from the so called “old-space” and with it some anchored mindsets. We all know that the space industry is a challenging industry and due to the high complexity of the technology and the variety of stakeholders, it’s tough to introduce new and unusual processes. The way things have worked so far is quite effective, but not efficient at all to meet today’s challenges.
With the enormously fast pace of companies within this digital world we are living in, no company with traditional processes will survive. And to build a digital environment from scratch is very time consuming and costly. This is where we come in and demonstrate the benefits of our platform. We provide a whole digital environment and we focus only on developing and extending this product and related services. By doing so we make sure that we slowly but steadily disrupt conservative value chains and create one market-oriented value network.
What are exciting milestones coming up for HOSTmi?
We have already launched our beta phase, which does not contain the full functionalities, but includes first and important ones - namely creating a digital version of a specific payload, entering mission - and payload-specific requirements and searching for suitable service providers that are already listed.
We will gradually extend and optimize this service over the course of the year. This will take place in close exchange with our clients and partners. Until then we will increase the number of service providers worldwide listed on our platform up to a sufficient number which will allow the HOSTmi platform to offer a variety of different hosting opportunities and other services.
We truly believe that, in the space industry, a big change is ahead of us and, with a lot of effort and hard work, we hope to be part of this change.
We are also currently working with some space agencies on tailored solutions for their internal programs. Furthermore, we will work together with one of our partners to develop a yet non-existing unique and innovative standardized insurance solution for space experiments and space payloads.
What advice do you have for aspiring space entrepreneurs?
In another interview last year, I mentioned that it is hard for me to give advice to other entrepreneurs. I still have the same opinion as we are still in early stages and we are all sitting in the same boat – the boat towards a more accessible and sustainable space for everyone. And if you want to jump into this boat then find yourself a good team and have confidence in your idea. We truly believe that, in the space industry, a big change is ahead of us and, with a lot of effort and hard work, we hope to be part of this change. So, there are many opportunities for new ideas and innovations. And apart from that, space is pretty cool, isn’t it!?
How can the public support you with your mission?
Well, as mentioned we are building a product and a service for the entire space industry. When it comes to the question “who and where to realize my space mission” we would love to welcome anybody on our platform. Only with the cooperation of all market stakeholders our company has a realistic chance, as it is the nature of an online B2B platform.
So, if you would like to help us and thereby help the space market to become more efficient, spread the word of HOSTmi. Tell every company with space payloads and missions to contact us. Or if you know a company offering space platform and services tell them we would love to welcome them as a new service provider on the HOSTmi platform. Help us, to help the entire space market!
Another thing is, that we are currently planning an investment round as mentioned before. If you are interested in investing in a digital business within the space industry, then feel free to contact us.
Lastly, where can people find out more about HOSTmi and follow along?
Of course, you can always visit our website www.hostmi.space.We also do have a social media account on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter.
But if you have any questions, please feel free to write us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking forward to any contact.
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