The new space race
This week the Space Mission UK has been at SpaceCom listening to a wealth of presentations under the title ‘The New Space Race’. Lots of interesting talks about human space flight and exploration from NASA and Virgin Galatic, and the trend for newer, low-cost satellite constellations going up over the coming years providing brontobytes (that is a 1 followed by 27 zeroes) of data about the Earth on a daily basis.
However, while we can all share the exciting vision that space data is embedded into all aspects of human existence, there doesn’t seem to be too much focus, or detail, on how that actually happens and, in particular, who is going to transform and analyse all of this data to create commercial applications which are needed to fuel the demand for the Space 2.0 market. This is good news for the UK companies on the Space Mission and what a great opportunity for UK plc to position itself as a global leader in the application of space data.
A recipe for success?
So what is the recipe for success for a UK company trying to be successful in the United States? Well, here is where I am going to be a little creative and draw parallels from the key messages that have come out of the conference so far with my first experience of American basketball, watching the Houston Rockets on Monday night at the city stadium – which, I’d hasten to add, was not part of the official programme.
1. Know your customers
As referenced by Dr Sean Casey, this is the main reason companies fail. In basketball all of the spectacle and detail might seem frivolous to the game but it is fact intrinsic to overall proposition. The t-shirt rocket launcher, the high octane music, the cheerleaders and the mascot riding around on a segway may seem like complete chaos but it is carefully orchestrated to meet the demands of the crowd and it works. It also justifies the $25 ticket.
2. Have a solid business plan
Investors want to know your company knows what it is doing and can make money from space data. According to the CEO of Spire, investors are attracted to disruptive technologies applied to large markets and the amount of investment available is rising again since 2014. Like the Houston Rockets, know your strategy to win (let’s ignore the fact that they were robbed of victory on the night….).
3. Search out the best data
With more and more data becoming available from companies like Planet Labs and Urthecast, and whole ecosystems of new nanosatellites, companies need to harness the right data from the right suppliers to create their data products. Similarly, with a huge variety and volume of fast food available to purchase at the stadium, what do you choose? Do with go with the dogs or the burgers or the tacos or the tortilla chips? Whatever you want, you’ll want it low cost, quick and it will have to taste darn good.
4.Create the demand
My favourite moment of the whole game had to be Kiss Cam. Shine the spotlight on the wins and tell as many people as you can how space data can significantly change their businesses for the better. Highlight the success stories. The way to really drive adoption and introduce more people to the benefits of space data is by referencing the success stories.
So a few thoughts from SpaceCom and the UK Space Mission, which will hopefully bring more even more really useful insights into the business opportunity for UK companies in the US market perhaps with a baseball theme next time……
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