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How We Hatched: Lisa Rich, Founder & COO of Xplore
28th November 2023 • The Pair Program • hatch I.T.
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How We Hatched: Lisa Rich, Founder & COO of Xplore

Welcome to “How We Hatched". In this episode, you’ll hear from Lisa Rich, Founder and COO of space startup Xplore. Get ready to learn all about what it takes for a startup to make it in the industry… and how you could join!

Lisa shares about:

  • The story behind Xplore’s founding.
  • Navigating funding (including government contracts and pitching to VCs)
  • The challenges of starting a new business and ways to overcome
  • Industry trends (diversity, the demand for talent, and more!)

About today’s guest: Lisa Rich is a successful serial entrepreneur, investor, strategist and communicator and thought-leader who entered the space industry in 2014 to accelerate sustainable, strategy-driven businesses that positively impact the environment, STEM education, national security, and advance the $1T space economy. She is Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Xplore, a commercial space services company using its high-capability multi-sensor platform to store and transmit data, achieve data fusion, on orbit processing and edge compute and is also a top venture-backed dual use company on Silicon Valley Defense Group’s NatSec100 list. Ms. Rich is also Founder of Hemisphere Ventures, a top early stage space sector VC that has invested in 37 outstanding commercial space companies including Axiom Space, Umbra and Lynk. She frequently presents at space and technology conferences, engages Fortune 500 companies in think tank conversations on space strategy and the landscape for space investment with institutional investors and wealth management firms. In 2022, Ms. Rich was nominated to the National Space Council User Advisory Group led by Vice President Kamala Harris, and was listed as the Top 12 Connectivity Execs To Watch. She played a pivotal role in establishing the Redmond Space District in Washington State, recently submitted to the Congressional Record (H. Res. 646) by Rep Suzan DelBene. Her media appearances include Bloomberg and CNBC. Dedication to the space industry is evidenced by relationships she has built with members of the House and Senate, U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. State Department, AFWERX, OMB, National Space Council and customers at the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Force, DIU, NRO, NSIC, NGA and NASA.

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Transcripts

Tim Winkler:

Welcome to The Pair Program from hatchpad, the podcast that gives you

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a front row seat to candid conversations

with tech leaders from the startup world.

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I'm your host, Tim Winkler,

the creator of hatchpad.

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And I'm your other host, Mike Gruen.

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Join us each episode as we bring

together two guests to dissect topics

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at the intersection of technology,

startups, and career growth.

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All

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right, let's jump in.

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Lisa, thank you for joining

us on The Pair Program.

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Uh, this is another bonus episode of a

miniseries that we call How We Hatched.

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Uh, and today we've got Lisa

Rich spending time with us.

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Lisa is the founder of Xplore, a

commercial space exploration company

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doing some very cool things with

satellites and edge computing.

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Um, we're going to approach this episode

a little bit different, uh, than some

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of our past, how we hatched episodes.

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We're not going to be spending as much

time talking about your entrepreneurial

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journey, but instead, uh, we're going

to be focusing our discussion more

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around, you know, what it takes to

build a successful space company.

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Um, and, and the timing for this

chat couldn't be better, given we've

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been recently hosting some fantastic

entrepreneurs from innovative space

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and satellite companies on the pod.

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Uh, but just in general, you know,

the space tech industry is super

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hot right now, there's a ton of, uh,

modern advancement that's happening.

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And so I'm very excited to dive

into this discussion with you.

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So again, thank you for

graciously sharing your time with

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Lisa Rich: us.

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Thanks, Tim.

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It's great to be here.

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Tim Winkler: Awesome.

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Well, let's jump in.

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Um, I do still want to give our listeners

just a little bit of context on your

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journey into the space industry.

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So we could maybe just start there.

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You know, what was it that inspired

you to enter the space industry and

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how did that lead to you founding

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Lisa Rich: explore?

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Yeah, well, first got involved in

the space industry in:

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understanding that at that time, there

was a transition occurring where the

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government was not just buying hardware,

but talking about buying services.

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And as we look at the space as an

opportunity for investment, I was an

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investor at that time, um, looking at.

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Opportunities that were, you know,

for exponential growth, because in the

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startup world, uh, the odds are pretty

low that you find great companies that

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are going to have, um, be the billion

dollar opportunities for investment.

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And so I was looking at.

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The, the venture environment and seeing

new companies popping up that were

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synergistic in terms of this combination

of software capabilities, mixing with

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hardware capabilities, and that if you

could merge software and hardware, uh,

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there were platform opportunities and

that that spoke to a services industry

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versus, uh, A buying of hardware industry,

um, which is what most venture folks

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did in the past as they were investing

in hardware, or we saw the government

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making investments in hardware, but

saying that they wanted to have services.

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So, there seemed to be a trend there

and a pattern forming it was signal of.

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Government shifting to commercial

services, and we saw that happening in

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the space industry, but how were space

companies going to respond to that?

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When traditionally, every space company

was designed around the hardware.

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And the founding teams were designed

to build great missions, like, for

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example, for NASA that are very large

missions with exquisite capabilities.

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But how could you look at space in

a new way to see it scaling where

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you didn't have to be a billionaire

anymore to run a space company.

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You could have a technology that is scaled

that's lower cost, higher capability.

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And maybe instead of selling that

hardware, you could be selling

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those services and those services

would be valuable to the government.

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Yeah,

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Tim Winkler: so it's, it's also clear

that, you know, you, you all are, um,

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uh, doing a number of like data as a

service, uh, and explore, I'd love to

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just kind of real quickly unveil, you

know, a little bit more about what

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it is that you're doing at explore.

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And then we can pivot more into, you

know, what it takes to be successful when

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building this kind of a space company.

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Lisa Rich: Yeah, well, the idea

behind Explore is that we have

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not, uh, uh, a satellite that is

a specific single purpose with a

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single sensor and a single customer.

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It's a satellite that's a platform

of instruments and that platform

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of instruments each have valuable

data that we bring down from space.

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And that that data is of interest

to any type of a customer.

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And can have a global impact because the

different stakeholders that would want

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this data come from the commercial sector.

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They come from the government

sector, governments themselves

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might be interested in this data.

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Um, we have the environmental, uh, and

climate customers that want the data

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science and research, uh, opportunities,

uh, would benefit from this.

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And educational, the educational

sector, even stem environments, uh,

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supporting stem, uh, can occur with this.

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So there's, there's really, um,

anyone that can benefit from earth

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observation data is going to be able

to access it at the lowest possible

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cost from our company in the future.

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And that's pretty disruptive.

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Tim Winkler: Yeah.

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A lot of use cases for sure.

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Um, and you know, as I mentioned, you

know, this is a, this is an area that,

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you know, we're seeing a ton of interest

from technologists wanting to get

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involved to new budding entrepreneurs

wanting to, to build something new.

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Um, but, uh, the reality is

that, you know, this isn't just

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something that happens overnight.

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Uh, it's very different than, you

know, just kind of whipping up a.

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A dating app or something along

those lines, no offense to those

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founders of Bumble or tender.

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But I would say that this is a very,

uh, different approach and process.

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And I'd love to hear it from you as a,

as an entrepreneur that's in this space.

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You know, what, what are some of these

things that you would say, um, are some

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of those challenges that you're going

to be facing in these earlier stages?

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And, and, you know, how did you

specifically kind of look to

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overcome some of those challenges?

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Well, I

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Lisa Rich: think I'll start with

what was being done before, uh, you

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had CubeSats and companies building

CubeSats and putting those into space.

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Those typically don't have propulsion.

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They're kind of considered disposable

and maybe lasting 1 to 3 years.

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And then you have the primes building

out higher capability satellites that are

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very expensive and companies, startups,

even paying for, uh, satellites that

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are smaller, but built by the primes.

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And so when we looked at the

marketplace of acquiring a satellite

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to fly multiple instruments, there

wasn't a solution that existed.

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For a low cost, high capability satellite

that we could acquire from someone else.

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So we had to engineer it ourselves.

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So again, yeah, nothing happens overnight.

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You have to start with what

is the blueprint for a new,

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highly capable satellite?

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And can you engineer something?

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That's that's so highly

capable at a low cost.

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And so that journey started a few years

ago, and we're very excited to be at the

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point where we're, we're close to launch.

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Uh, and I'm sitting here in my office,

looking out at our clean room on the

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opposite side of the table at our X

craft satellite, uh, Being assembled.

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Um, so it's, it's really thrilling to

be at this moment in time where we're

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months away from, you know, a launch

and proving out that a company could

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engineer a satellite on their own.

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That is this next generation capability.

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In terms of how you build a business

that's resilient, um, and even how do

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you, how do you have it survive until you

launch and get to the point of revenue,

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that's a challenge that every founder has,

no matter what business you're running.

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And we've followed a path that is

similar to many other space companies

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or tech companies where we've sought

out, uh, Government contracts and been

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very successful at that with contracts.

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We've successfully secured

from customers like NASA.

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Noah DARPA, um, D.

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I.

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U.

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which was a significant contract.

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We won where the defense

innovation unit in.

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Concert with the national security

innovation capital group, um, basically

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paid for the hardware for the X craft.

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Um, this was quite exciting.

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We want to be sort of their poster

child, if you will, to prove out that

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they made a great choice and in backing

us, they had only a 15 million budget

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and looked for dual use capabilities.

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That they could accelerate to counter

the supply chain issues that arose

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due to covet and other issues we

were experiencing at the time.

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And so, to advance our dual use

capability and get the X craft

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built, the idea was, let's.

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Let's help explore become first in

line for buying those components

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to to then, uh, build the X craft.

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So, uh, out of the 15Million

dollar budget, uh, we were

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awarded 2Million dollars.

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Um, there were only 4 companies

that won the award at that

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time out of 400 applicants.

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So we were.

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Really honored to have them as a partner

and to be a winner and they've continued

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to support us over the years as we've

developed and and built out our plan

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and and purchases of all our components.

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I also, I should mention that what was

truly phenomenal in terms of execution

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with the government customer is that,

uh, we were awarded the contract.

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And the contract itself was executed.

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About 21 days after the award, so just

kind of imagine government showing

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that with a simple contract structure.

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That you could issue an award

and executed in 21 days.

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It was really something that we,

we said this was the government

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showing us that they could move at

the pace of commercial business.

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So that was.

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Quite a quite a thrill.

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Um, so D.

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I.

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U.

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is a really important contract for us.

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They're a great customer.

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But, uh, other government contracts that

are foundational for our company include

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our recent award from the National

Reconnaissance Office, which, um.

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Previously had electro optical awards

that were won by companies doing optical

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observation, like a planet or black sky.

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And those awards for those companies were,

uh, matured to a point where they secured.

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30 to 100Million dollars a year in

purchases for their optical data.

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And so we pursued an NRO award

for the hyperspectral imagery.

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We will bring back from our

satellite and we won that.

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So we're quite excited, uh,

thinking that the national

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presence office is going to be a.

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A great customer and buyer in the

future when we fly, but, uh, explore

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is, as I mentioned, um, bringing

data back for any type of a customer.

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And that's part of our de risked

model is that we can have government

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customers, but we expect the majority

of our buyers to be commercial.

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Companies, so the more you can do

to have a diversified customer base

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and diversified streams of revenue.

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I think the more the

resilient your company can be

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regardless of what it's doing.

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Tim Winkler: Yeah.

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And I, and that leads me to my next

point, which is, uh, centered more

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around the investment on funding, right.

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Uh, you know, when you're talking

to investors, um, are they probing

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for this dual use, uh, opportunity?

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Um, they're, they're looking for,

you know, outlets that, you know,

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you're not just, you know, siloed

into one side or the other, but the,

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this is a much more appealing way.

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And, and I'd imagine, you know,

uh, encourages more of a, you

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know, uh, writing of a check.

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Um, I guess, All in, uh, you know,

what are some of those challenges of,

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of pitching to, to, to VCs, you know,

when you're, you're building the, uh,

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you know, an early stage space company,

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Lisa Rich: we have, uh,

had dual use investors.

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Those are typically investors that

understand, uh, a government contract is,

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I like to say, uh, Uh, good, like having

a good housekeeping seal of approval, uh,

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because your technology and capabilities

have been vetted by the expertise of our,

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our government customers and that's a

feather in your cap, but, uh, dual use.

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Funds are coming online, uh, being

supported by the office of strategic

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capital in the months ahead.

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We have a program where the OSC is

actually matching funds for, um.

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The ability to, to advance and,

and have more capital available,

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um, for these larger funds that

will make dual use investments.

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So explore is listed on the Silicon

Valley defense groups, Nat sec, 100 list.

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So national security, 100 lips.

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List, and this is a list showing

the top 100 venture backed dual

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use companies, uh, that they've

selected as, you know, top tier.

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Which is really exciting, because I think

by having the Silicon Valley Defense

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Group identifying, uh, these dual use

companies that, um, with their expertise,

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they've vetted, that's a great list

for funders to be looking at to say, I

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probably want to be investing in a company

that's on that list because they're.

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Recipients of federal contracts,

government contracts that could

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grow and that's always good

to know that maybe there's.

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Already an existing customer there,

if they're not like, explore and

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already establishing a commercial.

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Base of customers in the future.

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Tim Winkler: Sure.

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So I'm always curious when, um, you

know, building a company, um, you know,

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when you built out a, maybe like a, a

sales team or folks that are going to

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be helping you really navigate those

federal waters where that were those

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things that you came in to explore with

a little bit of a background in, or

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did you strategically hire somebody?

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That you knew could kind of navigate

the bureaucracy and, uh, how to, how to

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get in touch with the folks that were,

you know, uh, making buying decisions.

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Lisa Rich: It's a great question because

the navigating of the government customer

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field is, is it's a minefield, right?

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Uh, there's so much to learn and,

and so much time really that's

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required to get to know different

government customers and to know.

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Which ones are likely

the buyers of your data?

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Um, it's taken years, I would

say to be building relationships

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with different agencies.

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And that comes from a lot

of groundwork, uh, right.

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Being at events, being at

conferences, and then as well, having

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external experts that you hire to.

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Make introductions and

search for opportunities.

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There are a number of organizations that

help, um, match a company's capabilities

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with contracting opportunities.

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And certainly an early stage

company has to, uh, allocate

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budget for that, for those types

of, um, consultants and advisors.

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Uh, and sometimes they pay off and a lot

of times they don't, uh, but it's money

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that you, you put into the effort, uh,

and maybe over time, whether a contract is

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one or not, you've built a relationship.

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So, for example, in with our

company, we have a future opportunity

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to go to this lunar space.

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Our initial flights are

for earth observation.

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But we built a satellite that

can go to cislunar space.

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Well, this is of interest to our

Space Force, our Air Force customers.

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But we think that once, once we

establish the capability and they've

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seen it fly and they see what it can

do, then they're going to say, okay,

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now it's time for us to work with you

on a CisLunar effort, for example.

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Tim Winkler: Build that

past performance up.

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That's a big, big thing in the government

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Lisa Rich: space.

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Um, they really have great people.

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So knowledgeable.

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Um, and Uh, working on these, what they

call the transport layers and the, the

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hybrid architecture, there's all this

government speak that you can can learn

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about, but, uh, really, it's, it's

strengthening the resiliency of and

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having a sustainable capability for.

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Uh, all United States space

companies, how can we work in concert?

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How can we work together to,

to have, um, to be stronger?

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It's pretty simple.

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Yeah.

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Tim Winkler: You know, just kind of, um,

circling back to, you know, this kind of

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playbook for entrepreneurs that might be

looking to build, uh, a space company,

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a space tech startup, um, It's tough to

boil this down to three things, but, you

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know, um, what would you say are three,

you know, crucial pieces of advice that

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you would, you would give somebody that's

really trying to jump off the deep end

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into, into this world of, of, uh, of

a space company, of a space startup.

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I think

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Lisa Rich: the, the idea

of having a business is.

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Exciting to a lot of people, but the

execution side of it is the hardest

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part and what are you executing on?

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Um, the business model, uh, and time

spent on what is your business model?

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How do you get to a profit?

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How quickly can you get to a profit

is lost on a lot of people because

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they maybe are in love with the

new technology they want to build.

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They're in love with the idea of

tinkering and building something

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new, and that's all great.

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That's that's wonderful.

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However, you must have it supported

by a very solid business model

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that if you can't plot it out on

paper, how you get to profitability

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in the shortest period of time.

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It's it's high risk.

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So the goal is to constantly

be de risking, uh, the business

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because you can't rely on any one

thing to get you to the finish

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line, to get you to profitability.

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Tim Winkler: Yeah, that's sound advice.

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Um, I feel like in startup world to,

um, you know, the, the, uh, kind of

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reference, like just building apps, you

know, I think that's a very different

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ecosystem than what we're talking about.

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If there's.

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You know, the combination of hardware and

software, you know, looking at much larger

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raises that are needed, uh, much longer

timelines and, um, being comfortable

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with that, uh, extended timeline,

extended runway of becoming profitable.

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It's very different than, you know,

building that quick hitting app

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that you're just trying to get.

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Subscribers,

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Lisa Rich: the venture world, um,

investors are looking for, uh, these

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time horizons of getting their return

on investment in seven to 10 years.

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And you have to have a business

that is not going to have this be

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fraught with risk along the way.

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Um, because they're not just

going to keep putting more and

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more money into the business.

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You have no guarantee of that.

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So you have to think about, um,

these creative ways of getting

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to some new form of revenue.

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Earlier on, and that may not be the

main business, but it can't also be

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a distraction from the main business.

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So, um, there are ways to do it.

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Um, every government contract my

company has pursued has aligned

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with our, our long term strategy.

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That's hard to do, but you don't

just pursue contracts for the sake of

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maybe I'll get money here or there.

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It has to make sense on the continuum

of where is your company going in the

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next few years and does this align?

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Yeah.

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Tim Winkler: I want to talk

briefly about, um, Diversity in

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the, in the industry as well.

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Um, you know, you're a successful

woman in a, we consider maybe a

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traditional kind of male heavy sector.

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Um, how has that seen changing or what

would you say the industry can do to

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maybe encourage more women to take up.

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You know, leadership roles

in space and tech ventures.

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It's such

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Lisa Rich: a challenge, really.

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Um, we need, uh, we have a workforce

issue in the space industry because we

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don't have enough, uh, talent coming

out of university to support the

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jobs and the roles that exist across

the space sector, whether you're.

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A young man or a woman, um, and so

we have a gap in our education system

345

:

that we need to be graduating more

of more students from stem careers.

346

:

So, when you're then at the point

where you're hiring, and you're

347

:

looking for, not just students that

are out of school, but, um, maybe.

348

:

With 10 years plus experience, then how do

you find, uh, women that are qualified and

349

:

men that are qualified and in an industry

where the talent is a finite pool.

350

:

And so what, so you effectively have

space companies with people that

351

:

have jobs at those companies, and you

don't necessarily have a lot of people

352

:

outside of the space industry that

you can draw from for new positions.

353

:

So, with our company Explorer,

we're looking for talent and.

354

:

I would love to attract more women to the

roles that we have to fill in engineering.

355

:

Um, and hopefully women would

understand that we're an early

356

:

stage venture back company.

357

:

And in that regard,

there's an opportunity for.

358

:

Um, equity for options, uh, that you

would not have if you were going to

359

:

work at a prime, for example, um,

the benefits are very different.

360

:

So if you start to learn, I would

encourage young women engineers

361

:

out there listening to learn

about the venture opportunity to

362

:

understand how that can compare.

363

:

To a job where you could work at a big

prime or a big company, like an Amazon

364

:

or Microsoft or that type of thing.

365

:

Um, it's a very different.

366

:

Uh, to be at a startup and so.

367

:

I wish there was more education out

there about the venture opportunity

368

:

and the startup environment.

369

:

To attract more women to it, because, um,

I think if they understood, uh, more women

370

:

understood the, the upside, uh, they might

be more attracted to, uh, being at venture

371

:

backed startups versus applying to.

372

:

Uh, work at a large prime, like a

Lockheed or a Boeing or something

373

:

Tim Winkler: like that.

374

:

Yeah, I think that with the wave of,

of tech startups that are playing in

375

:

this space, um, both satellite and

space companies, uh, I think it will

376

:

open up a lot more doors where folks

maybe thought that the space industry

377

:

was almost untouchable or, you know,

it was going to be a, a much longer

378

:

journey to get into, to break in.

379

:

Um, I think that's, what's great about

startups is it, it does create a window

380

:

for folks that maybe, uh, don't have

the extensive tenure, um, but they

381

:

are able to, to build on that, you

know, in a, in a real world setting.

382

:

Um, and it's, you know,

it's on those founders to.

383

:

So, you know, they take a little

bit of a chance on, on folks as

384

:

well with the intent that they

groom them and build them up.

385

:

But I have, I've been, uh, seeing

a lot more of these kinds of career

386

:

fairs where it's really catering to

space and satellite tech companies.

387

:

Um, that are really looking to hire

because there is a, there is a gap out

388

:

there, uh, from a talent marketplace.

389

:

So,

390

:

Lisa Rich: um, really, um, they've

got founders, uh, myself and my

391

:

business partner, our CEO, uh,

have built businesses throughout

392

:

the course of our career.

393

:

We are investors in 37

commercial space companies.

394

:

We built Hemisphere Ventures, which

is one of the top VC firms in the

395

:

space sector and top in deep tech.

396

:

Um, we were out also, by the way,

listed on the national security 100

397

:

list right behind, uh, In Q Tel as the.

398

:

Most prolific investor in the

top tier dual use companies.

399

:

And just this week, uh, our investment in

Axiom space, we were the first investors

400

:

in Axiom, they just closed their series

C round of 350 million and sent their.

401

:

Second, a group of astronauts to the ISS,

uh, this year, so that company began with

402

:

our being the first investor with four

people and our understanding that this

403

:

could be a multi billion dollar company.

404

:

Um, all this to say that just as founders

of a startup, uh, I understand the

405

:

investment environment, uh, very well.

406

:

And as a result, have built hemisphere

ventures in 5 years to have, uh,

407

:

multiple return for investors, uh.

408

:

By making great investments in companies

and understanding what great business

409

:

models are, and then putting a great

business model in place ourselves that

410

:

we expect to bring through to fruition,

um, and produce great revenues and

411

:

returns for our investors and our

412

:

Tim Winkler: employees.

413

:

That's really impressive.

414

:

That's impressive.

415

:

Um.

416

:

I want to kind of close on, um, another

little area here, which I think is

417

:

something that's top of mind for a

lot of folks that are coming into the

418

:

space, which is kind of like ethics

and in space, uh, and and with the, you

419

:

know, the commercialization of space,

there's You know, it's a responsibility

420

:

for these different companies to kind

of play, you know, play nice up there.

421

:

Um, so how, how does Explore kind

of approach space ethics and I guess

422

:

any thoughts on, on that at large?

423

:

Are

424

:

Lisa Rich: you talking about

space as it relates to responsible

425

:

operation of your satellite?

426

:

Exactly.

427

:

Yeah.

428

:

Well, all satellites have, um,

uh, have to file their, their...

429

:

How they operate is already like approved

by like the licenses that you have.

430

:

So we're fully licensed, um, for the

missions that we're going to fly.

431

:

Tim Winkler: Yeah.

432

:

I didn't know if there was just a general

thought or, you know, during, you know,

433

:

throughout some of the conversations

or conferences that you attend, if

434

:

there's Big things in space ethics that,

that are popping up, uh, just because

435

:

it's a fast moving arena and a lot

of new companies are coming into it.

436

:

A lot more satellites are getting sent up.

437

:

So I didn't know if there were things

kind of color top of mind in that regard.

438

:

Lisa Rich: International issues that I

think are too big for this conversation.

439

:

Probably

440

:

Tim Winkler: sure.

441

:

Sure.

442

:

Yeah.

443

:

Well, let's, let's, let's move on.

444

:

Um, uh, I did want to kind of just close

the main discussion before we transition

445

:

into the five second scramble with.

446

:

Um, it's just a sneak peek into the

future for explore some of those

447

:

exciting projects or collaborations

that are on the horizon, I guess, what

448

:

you're able to share with our audience,

some of those things that folks can

449

:

be excited about going into 2024.

450

:

Yeah,

451

:

Lisa Rich: well, we have, um, already

established a great rapport with a slew of

452

:

customers that want to buy the capacity.

453

:

Of data on our satellites, and so

can't wait to to deliver, uh, to

454

:

those customers, but those customers

include international interest and.

455

:

Partnerships were

forming with governments.

456

:

That are small nations, for example,

that a small government that could

457

:

be getting data back from the X

craft and allowing them to monitor.

458

:

Their land, the oceans, um, the,

uh, assets that they have and

459

:

so it's been really a humbling

to meet, uh, constituents

460

:

around the world that want to.

461

:

Be working with Explorer once

we fly, you know, we're an early

462

:

stage company and yet we have the

ear of very important governments.

463

:

And, um, I just can't wait to

see what the future holds there.

464

:

And we want to be able

to provide services and.

465

:

Valuable data to all of them, uh,

because we think that, uh, what we're,

466

:

what we're building, uh, with data from

video instruments from hyperspectral,

467

:

uh, IR spectrometry, uh, allowing us to

measure greenhouse gases, um, et cetera

468

:

in our sensor suite is all going to

be, uh, something that customers want.

469

:

And they need to start thinking

today about their space strategy.

470

:

Uh, this is something I, I love to harp

on it at events is to say, if you're

471

:

not thinking about transformative

data, that will come that will be

472

:

available and accessible to you.

473

:

In the next year, if you're not

prepared for this, and you don't have

474

:

a space strategy, aren't you similarly

in the same boat as the person at

475

:

the dawn of the Internet that didn't

think the Internet was a thing.

476

:

And were you left behind because our data

will be valuable to commercial companies,

477

:

insurance companies, financial firms, um,

you know, environmental and climate change

478

:

monitoring people, the list is endless.

479

:

And this is why we built the company is,

could we have something that we could

480

:

build that we would have, you know.

481

:

Interesting projects for the

next 10 years at minimum by

482

:

the work we can do it explore.

483

:

And I think that answer is yes.

484

:

That's awesome.

485

:

Tim Winkler: Yeah.

486

:

As you know, you talk about the, you

know, the global partnerships as well.

487

:

I mean, the space race is, is happening in

real time and India just today, you know,

488

:

landed on, on the, the Southern pole.

489

:

So the moon, so it's a, it's a

really fascinating, uh, space

490

:

that's happening so quickly.

491

:

And, um, again, brings it back to why this

is so, so current and, and, um, relevant.

492

:

So.

493

:

Yeah.

494

:

Um, I guess the last thing with regards

to explore, uh, before we do a couple

495

:

of little rapid fire Q and a, um, what

kind of roles do you hire for, uh,

496

:

what kind of roles are you hiring for?

497

:

I'm always curious to hear

498

:

Lisa Rich: about that.

499

:

Well, we are looking for a suite

of engineering roles, specifically

500

:

looking for folks with, uh, hands

on expertise with satellites in, um,

501

:

mechanical electrical engineering.

502

:

Systems engineering, all of the

things that, uh, get a satellite

503

:

to flight and help us build a

whole suite of X craft satellites.

504

:

So, uh, more hands, uh, on the

satellite process would be a good thing.

505

:

Uh, more hands.

506

:

On site in Redmond, Washington,

building satellites is what we're,

507

:

we're looking to have here and, uh,

folks can go to our website at www.

508

:

explore.

509

:

com and look at the careers page to apply.

510

:

Tim Winkler: Awesome.

511

:

Yeah, we'll be sure to

promote that as well.

512

:

Um, and, uh, that's kind of a

wrap on, on the main discussion.

513

:

Um, are you up for a quick.

514

:

A quick five second scramble segue here.

515

:

All right, let's do it.

516

:

Um, it's, uh, it'll start with a couple

of business questions and then we'll have

517

:

some, some fun personal questions as well.

518

:

But, uh, uh, explain, explore to

me as if I were a five year old.

519

:

Lisa Rich: Well, if a five year old

knows what a Swiss army knife is, we

520

:

could say that Explore is a satellite

that's like a Swiss army knife, or maybe

521

:

a five year old knows what an iPhone is.

522

:

And basically Explore has built

an iPhone, but it's a satellite.

523

:

Tim Winkler: That, that latter one is

certainly something that I think most

524

:

five year olds still know at this point.

525

:

What, um, what are the biggest

problems that you all are solving?

526

:

We're,

527

:

Lisa Rich: we're solving the

problem of accessing valuable

528

:

data from space for a low cost.

529

:

Tim Winkler: What aspect of your culture

do you most fear losing with growth?

530

:

Lisa Rich: Well, we're all

fantastic jugglers here.

531

:

And as I say, there's never

a dull moment at our company.

532

:

I think that there's very personal

aspects of being a close knit group.

533

:

And, um, what Lou, you

know, we do want to keep.

534

:

Uh, a talented team of experts

and be a, a close knit group.

535

:

We don't expect to be a

thousand person company.

536

:

So I don't know that, that I

have a lot of fears around that.

537

:

I think our, our culture is just.

538

:

Constantly reinforcing, um, the

excitement of what we're doing and

539

:

the impact it can have on the world.

540

:

And I want to make sure that that

trickles down to everyone at the company.

541

:

Tim Winkler: Awesome.

542

:

What type of technologist

thrives at Explore?

543

:

We,

544

:

Lisa Rich: we have a very bright

minds here and people that

545

:

are able to juggle many tasks.

546

:

Um.

547

:

That is the tradition of at a

startup is being good jugglers,

548

:

but I think it's really the problem

solver mindset is absolutely

549

:

Tim Winkler: key.

550

:

Nice.

551

:

What is a charity or corporate

philanthropy that is near and dear to

552

:

Lisa Rich: you?

553

:

We are very interested in the.

554

:

The impacts that we have on, um, humanity.

555

:

And so climate disasters, uh,

we just saw happening in Hawaii.

556

:

Um, we, you know, what we can do to

change that in the future with, uh,

557

:

advanced warning systems with weather,

et cetera, um, are important to us.

558

:

And I think just, that's an

example of a situation most

559

:

recently, which strikes my heart.

560

:

We have a partnership.

561

:

With the Keck Observatory in Hawaii,

not in Maui, but, um, it, it strikes us

562

:

all of what, what they're going through

right now and our hearts go out to them.

563

:

Tim Winkler: Yeah, well said, um, all

right, on a lighter note, uh, can you

564

:

briefly describe your morning routine by

565

:

Lisa Rich: morning routine?

566

:

Well, I'm someone that's kind of on 24 7.

567

:

so regardless of the time zone,

people often say, you know, I

568

:

got a message from you at 3 in

the morning or 5 in the morning.

569

:

It's because I'm always thinking about

different people at different times of

570

:

the day, so my morning routine is somehow

getting myself dressed into the office.

571

:

But by the time I've gotten to the

office, I've probably sent many

572

:

emails, texts, and voicemails to

people because that's how I operate.

573

:

I just, um, I have people and

priorities in mind and I am constantly

574

:

communicating regardless of my.

575

:

You know, I'm lucky to get dressed

in the morning to tell you the truth.

576

:

Tim Winkler: Are you a coffee drinker?

577

:

Lisa Rich: No, I'm a, okay.

578

:

Truth be told, um, I'm a diet Coke

drinker and typically when I've had

579

:

calls with people, um, and I've had too

much diet Coke, they know it because.

580

:

I come, I'm too, um, no, I just, I think

I, I can move at a very, very fast pace.

581

:

That's, um, a little, um, uh, alarming

for some people because I'm just excited

582

:

and, and, uh, you know, always wanting

to advance a conversation quickly

583

:

because I have a lot going on in my

584

:

Tim Winkler: life.

585

:

Sure.

586

:

I'm a proud Diet Coke drinker myself.

587

:

It's a good Diet Coke plug.

588

:

Um, All right, here's a fun one.

589

:

If you could take a one week

vacation anywhere in our

590

:

solar system, where would you

591

:

Lisa Rich: go?

592

:

Well, my favorite planet is Saturn.

593

:

I am fascinated by the rings of Saturn.

594

:

Uh, the sort of, the ring is made up

of these Ice crystals that are actually

595

:

some of them the size of buildings,

which I don't even understand.

596

:

It's just hard to even understand

what we're looking at through, you

597

:

know, the lens of a telescope and and

I'm just fascinated by that planet.

598

:

And I could go there.

599

:

That's where

600

:

Tim Winkler: I would go.

601

:

Yeah, I like that answer.

602

:

Um.

603

:

What is the worst fashion trend

that you've ever followed?

604

:

Lisa Rich: Well, I haven't followed

it, but, um, I refuse to buy the puffy

605

:

shirts and the long sleeves that women

have been wearing for the past year.

606

:

I just don't see the point.

607

:

I can't stand pushing a tire.

608

:

It looks like 1980.

609

:

Tim Winkler: Yeah, baggy, baggy

clothes are coming back, apparently.

610

:

Yeah.

611

:

Um, on the topic of fashion,

you know, we've all kind of seen

612

:

the classic astronaut suits.

613

:

Um, if you could design the next gen

space outfit, is there a fashionable

614

:

feature or fun feature that you would add?

615

:

Lisa Rich: Oh, what an

interesting question.

616

:

Cause Axiom just designed a new

space suit and I actually bought the

617

:

Axiom Build A Bear teddy bear that

is the astronaut bear wearing the

618

:

Axiom space suit, so it's adorable.

619

:

Um, and I have that teddy bear now at

my house, but, um, well, what, uh, what

620

:

fed, what would I add to a space suit?

621

:

Um, I'm one of the first people to.

622

:

Be in a space suit that women have, like

very few women have been able to try

623

:

on, um, new versions of space suits.

624

:

And what was fascinating to me as the

designers of the suit, when they saw me

625

:

in it, and this was several years ago,

they said, wow, we're so fascinated to

626

:

see your level of mobility because women

move differently in a space suit than men.

627

:

And.

628

:

Uh, I think that that, uh,

lightness of a suit is important.

629

:

So we could totally get on a

riff about materials, by the

630

:

way, I'm a, I'm a materials nerd.

631

:

So I love, um, any kind of

discussion of, you know, like,

632

:

um, aerogel and things like that.

633

:

Tim Winkler: And lightweight material.

634

:

Right.

635

:

Yeah.

636

:

Well, we'll have to run

a sec, a second episode.

637

:

We'll talk all, um, materials.

638

:

It was fun.

639

:

Uh, just a couple more

here, uh, to wrap it up.

640

:

So if you had to pick one fast food

joint to establish as the first

641

:

restaurant on Mars, which one would it

642

:

Lisa Rich: be?

643

:

Well, I am a sucker for

five guys, so I know this.

644

:

We ordered lunch the other week.

645

:

From five guys, and I didn't realize

how often I go there, but it's kind

646

:

of like in and out burger where you

get to know the language and you

647

:

can order something that's called

all the way with all the toppings.

648

:

And I made the mistake of telling.

649

:

The person doing the ordering,

Oh, I want, you know, a double

650

:

cheeseburger all the way.

651

:

And she said, wow, you must

really go to five guys a lot

652

:

if you know their terminology.

653

:

And I said, guilty as charged.

654

:

Tim Winkler: Yeah.

655

:

A five guys.

656

:

I'm in heaven right there.

657

:

Yeah, that's.

658

:

That's, uh, that's great.

659

:

Um, that's actually the, uh,

that's actually my answer.

660

:

Um, I, I would pick five guys as well,

but we get a lot of folks on the pod

661

:

that are maybe on the West coast in

California and an outbreaker seems

662

:

to be their, their pick and choice.

663

:

Um, Chick fil a is in the running as well.

664

:

Um, Alright, uh, last one.

665

:

What was your dream job as a

666

:

Lisa Rich: kid?

667

:

What did I dream of becoming?

668

:

Well, ironically, I did the Myers Briggs

test and it told me that I would be either

669

:

a gardener Or an astronaut now, I was

technically kind of both as a kid, I was

670

:

studying, uh, flora and fauna and the

genus and species of all sorts of plants.

671

:

And not only having, um, you know,

thousands or thousands, sorry,

672

:

hundreds of house plants that I had,

but I was interested in in space.

673

:

So in an odd way, I think I.

674

:

Grew into my dream job.

675

:

Tim Winkler: Yeah, that's really neat.

676

:

What are both a very interesting

professions, but, uh, I think the, the,

677

:

the vertical space seems like one that a

lot of folks would be really jealous of.

678

:

So good, good for you.

679

:

I

680

:

Lisa Rich: remember getting

the test results and saying,

681

:

I don't know what this means.

682

:

I do not understand.

683

:

Tim Winkler: Well, that's a wrap,

uh, Lisa, I want to thank you

684

:

again for spending time with us.

685

:

Uh, we are excited for the future of

what you all are building at Explore.

686

:

It's a very fascinating company.

687

:

Um, we're excited.

688

:

I'm sure you'll be super successful.

689

:

So we're rooting for you all and I

wanted to thank you again for hanging

690

:

us, hanging with us on the podcast.

691

:

Thank you,

692

:

Lisa Rich: Tim.

693

:

It's been great.

694

:

Have a good one.

Chapters