Building A Global Network For Space Companies With Rabi Boundi
Tell us your background and about Space Impulse
I grew up in Spain where I studied Computer Engineering. My career since my teens has always combined technology expertise with a passion for entrepreneurship. My second company, movin’App, achieved more than 35 million downloads on Android and iOS. I have had a deep passion for all things space since as far back as I remember, and Space Impulse connects my lifelong passion with the technology and entrepreneurial skills I have developed over the same lifetime.
Space Impulse was founded with a mission to lower space industry costs and accelerate times to orbit on a global business networking platform.
The platform provides an online market for the space industry supply chain, where participants can search, promote, network, negotiate, and transact.
Our headquarters are in London, however thanks to our team of 10, we have a presence in North America, Europe and Asia. We are privately funded.
How did the idea for Space Impulse come about and what was it like getting started?
The initial idea started to take shape when I noticed the sheer amount of new and disruptive startups being created in the commercial space industry. Later I attended the International Space University’s Executive Course and it became clear to me that the space industry, despite all of its state of the art technology, was still running on a very old fashioned supply chain.
Space Impulse was founded with a mission to lower space industry costs and accelerate times to orbit on a global B2B marketplace platform.
To have a satellite reach orbit and then function properly once it’s up there requires peak, impeccable performance on the part of countless suppliers and providers. Our goal is to reflect that in the supply chain through the Space Impulse platform.
How did we turn this idea into reality? Passion for all things space! And code. That’s something I know how to do very well. Plus I know how to work with coders. The first version of our platform I built myself back in 2017.
I used Wordpress to create a quick prototype and check how users would react. Once the idea was validated, we hired a professional UI/UX designer to create an interactive mockup of the final product to help us fine tune the user’s journey before writing any line of code.
Then, we started the development about a couple of years ago. My first teammate was our CTO, Spyros, he designed the IT infrastructure and then we hired a couple of skilled coders to help him out.
None of this would have happened so efficiently without the help of our QA manager, Galina. Quality control is paramount before releasing any product, but especially for business applications. (Below is a screenshot of that early prototype.)
Overall, the first few months involved lots of research. Once you go past NASA, SpaceX, Arianespace, etc., getting to understand how the space industry’s supply chain works seems like a daunting task at first.
Thankfully, from the very beginning I received support from Tor Fyksen and Fabrice Testa, our first two advisors. Their guidance and encouragement has been crucial and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them publicly for believing in Space Impulse since it was just a PowerPoint presentation.
Apart from that, same as now! Very excited to be working on something I love with an awesome team.
How did you fund the company initially?
Initial funds were my own capital. And since capital is nothing without labor, I’m happy to say the project inspired that initial investment as well from colleagues with valuable skills.
Raising capital from investors is essential. What it was like in the beginning compared to now is mostly differentiated by the balance between sheer enthusiasm in the beginning and something practical known in the startup world as “traction.” In our case, that’s mainly measured in participants on the platform, which is growing! So traction and enthusiasm go together very well.
That initial funding allowed me to design and build a very basic prototype which helped me enrol fellow space dreamers with complementary skills to join me on this exciting venture.
Why is the problem you are solving important and how does it help human space exploration?
The need for our global business networking platform is especially compelling when you consider that tens of thousands of satellites are expected to be launched into orbit in the next ten or fifteen years. Many of these satellites will involve owners and a wide range of other stakeholders who are engaging directly in the space business for their very first time.
Tens of thousands of satellites are expected to be launched into orbit in the next ten or fifteen years.
Companies and institutions with space related agendas are newly entering the market almost daily. The global commercial space industry stood at $360 billion in 2018. Billions in investment and hundreds of new entrants every year are expected to sustain industry CAGR at 5.6% through 2028.
At this rate, the industry will pass the trillion dollar mark in less than 20 years! And all of that business flows through an outdated supply chain heavily reliant on in-person formats to network, establish trust, and generally conduct business.
Space Impulse was designed from the beginning to be the perfect supplement to face-to-face meetings and trade shows - even standing as a viable alternative.
Therefore, in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, the first goal is for Space Impulse to offer immediate capability in the absence of small and large business networking events being cancelled around the world.
Our goal and capacity is to host thousands of businesses who have cancelled travel and meetings. Space Impulse can revive and preserve all of that potential virtually as a global hub of space industry business activity and opportunity.
The key to the success of the Space Impulse platform, especially at first, will be to show immediate value for minimal participation. We are making it extremely easy to sign up at no cost. At the same time, it’s very compelling to use the platform tools to engage, negotiate, form contracts, and transact with other members.
The power and convenience of the platform is a reward in itself, but further incentives for working within the system will include reputation-building and ratings, and ways to save on typical transaction fees.
Our ultimate goal is to streamline space commerce and reduce friction when doing business transactions.
The Space Impulse platform is the first in the industry to provide a robust marketplace for all roles in the extended network of companies and institutions that work along the Earth/space interface. This includes launchers, integrators, insurers, certifiers, engineers, shippers, legal, and more.
It’s the first to offer to the industry online tools such as RFP management and bidding, project management and integration, escrow services, and more, in a unified platform.
Our ultimate goal is to streamline space commerce and reduce friction when networking and doing business transactions. If we do it right on the B2B side, this will eventually speed up the commercialization of B2C space services. Vacations on the Moon or even Mars will be soon possible!
What are some achievements you're proud of?
The great highlight is that already the most important thing that could possibly happen on the platform is happening - clients are using it. Deals are being made. That’s the whole purpose.
What have been some of your biggest challenges? How did you overcome them?
There is a huge future for “blockchain”, or more generally “distributed ledger technology” in all of this due to the robust role it can play in establishing trust. We set out with that as the core development project but then realized we had it a little backward.
We really needed to have the business networking platform up and running first. We needed to create a community, study how they transact, what their pains are when doing business and then integrate the right technology that solves those pains.
What are exciting milestones coming up for Space Impulse?
As a lean startup, we are constantly listening to our users’ feedback which has been extremely helpful so far. For the next 6 months, we will be stepping up our user acquisition efforts and deploy some new exciting features which will be announced in due time.
In the next 1-2 years, we plan to have even more members on the platform, plus some innovations related to distributed ledger tech.
What advice do you have for aspiring space entrepreneurs?
A famous entrepreneur rightly tells us to “fall in love with the problem, not the solution”. Yep, that’s good advice, and also quite romantic in case you haven’t noticed. So I think, to be properly romantic, you should also take care not to fall in love with too many problems. There are more problems than solutions.
Build relationships with core users or potential users who will share with you the vital things that should inform your solution.
What really works well is getting to know the needs of your users and staying focused on that. Build relationships with core users or potential users who will share with you the vital things that should inform your solution.
What hasn’t worked so well is falling in love with more than one big problem. For a while we rolled two big problems into one: building a global business networking platform and next-generation trust protocol (aka “blockchain”).
How can the public support you with your mission?
The last few months have been very auspicious for Space Impulse. After going live a few months ago, real transactions are beginning to take place on the platform.
It has been a lot of fun and hard work getting to this point! Now we have come to the incredibly important step when we seek to expand the user base. Early adopters of any technology always play an extremely critical role. A new platform can’t have thousands of users later without a visionary few jumping in at the beginning. So now we invite everyone in the space industry to join us on our journey to streamline Space Commerce.
You will be joining the platform in its basic, foundational form. Some of the functions naturally won’t have much use until many other users come on board, but we would like your feedback and you can expect the Space Impulse team to be very responsive to your comments and questions (email@example.com).
We are really excited to begin showing the world our technology and vision. Signing up is as easy as getting a gym membership, and it’s free! Looking forward to having you on board!
Lastly, where can people find out more about Space Impulse and follow along?
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