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How Space Store Is Bringing Space to Earth

Stephen Ringler explains how he's using retail pop-ups and VR to make space an experience possible for the average consumer.
Stephen Ringler
  • Founder
    Stephen Ringler
  • Education and retail
  • Focus
  • 🌍
  • Employees
  • 1-10
  • Country
  • Founded
  • 2016

Tell us your background and about your startup

Hello! My name is Stephen Ringler and I am a trained aerospace engineer with 19 years working in the space industry. I love space and connecting people and businesses to space here on Earth.

As it is, space knowledge and technology is rather inaccessible to most. Space is mysterious and intriguing. So, with Space Store, I want to make it available to everyone through experience, merchandise, and food & beverage.

Space Store brings space to Earth. Led by experts from the space, retail, and F&B industries we offer edutainment experiences through a blend of digital and physical channels. Our mission is to bring the space experiences to everyone, everywhere, every day.

How did the idea come about and what was it like getting started?

Honestly, I was on a date with my wife and we past by a Build-a-Bear at a shopping mall.  I asked her, "why don't we have a Build-a-Rocket company? A space store has got to work in a mall too!".  From there, the idea developed and formed into where we are today!

After the build-a-bear epiphany, we tested the idea at a Start-Up Space conference in Germany. It was such a popular idea, we had to take it to the next level. We recruited key team members from the space retail, and F&B industries - including a NASA astronaut.

Once we secured our pre-seed investment, we were able to develop our products and experiences and test them on audiences around London and Oxfordshire via pop-ups. The natural next step for us is to have a permanent location in which we can run events and create a place for people to experience space.

"Our mission is to bring space experience to everyone, everywhere, every day."

Why is the problem you are solving important?

There is a massive global fascination with space exploration and space businesses. For most people, space is only accessible through science fiction, on a screen, or through limited destination locations like Kennedy Space Centre. Space Store aims to make space accessible to everyone.

Space experiences inspire people to view Earth with the “overview effect” -- a perspective that Earth is ours to take care of and there are no borders between us. So, as the space industry continues to grow and expand into new areas such as tourism and resource mining, Space Store wants to ensure the public can directly access authentic space industry experience and products.

What are some achievements you're proud of?

Most recently, we’ve launched a 2-hour experience targeted at both kids and adults called Fascination Space. Our customers come and take part in several experiences of different aspects of life in space - trying on replica space suits, trying space food, virtual reality space walks, etc.

It has proven to be incredibly popular and we continue to sell out sessions!

What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced? How did you overcome them?

Probably our biggest challenge has been getting folks to understand what exactly Space Store is. Nothing like Space Store exists in its entirety anywhere in the world, having both digital and physical locations that provide accessible, authentic space experiences, merchandise, food & beverage, educational programmes, and events.

The way we are dealing with this communication problem is bringing our space experiences to the public through pop-ups, events, and educational programmes. Once someone attends an event or pop-up of ours, it becomes clearer and folks get hooked! We've been very pleased with the number of return customers we have had in such a short period of time.

What are your next steps?

Soon, we'll launch our first crowdfunding campaign which we are excited about to get more people involved in our journey. We are funding to accelerate the growth of the business and largely increase our monthly revenue.

This will allow us to hire more staff (increasing our capacity to run events), invest in new experiences (creating repeat customers) and introduce higher price experiences (increasing revenues and profits).

Space Store will be launching this campaign on the FCA regulated platform Crowdcube in April 2019, thus giving investors the opportunity to purchase shares and become a part of the phenomenal Space Store journey.

If you want to learn more, please visit our crowdfunding page and follow the links to register your interest.  We also hope to share some big news about a location in the coming weeks!

We believe that space is a place to create international partnerships and draw people of different backgrounds closer together. Space Store wants to create that kind of place here on Earth for everyone to share in.

What advice do you have for aspiring space entrepreneurs?

Pursue what you’re passionate about and share it with others who will encourage, advise, and support you. There will be nay-sayers, but turn the negativity into something that makes your business even better!

I also highly recommend attending a conference focused on space start-ups, for example Start-Up Space weekend or Disrupt Space. It is a great way to get some ideas and/or validate their viability.

Lastly, a great resource for Space Start-Ups in the UK is the Satellite Applications Catapult. Throughout Europe, ESA’s Business Incubation Centre network is also an excellent resource.

"There will be nay-sayers, but turn the negativity into something that makes your business even better."

What’s the best way for the public to support you in your mission?

We’re on the verge of announcing our first permanent Space Store location so stay tuned. To hear where we might be having a pop-up near you in the UK, sign up to our email list via our website or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (links below).

Also, just visiting our website is an experience as we host live data feeds from space and information on upcoming space events. We also sell some cool virtual and augmented reality experiences on our online store.

Finally, we'd love for people who are as passionate about space as we are to join us in our upcoming crowdfunding round. As mentioned, please sign up on our website to learn more about it and other exciting events and news we are up to!

Where can people find out more about you and follow along?

Visit our website where you can shop and sign up to the mailing list. You can also find us on social media: our Facebook, our Instagram and Twitter.