The trajectory of these startups’ impact can be described as either incremental (e.g., adding launch capacity to a supply-constrained market), disruptive (e.g., shifting the fundamental economic model for their own segment), or enabling (e.g., shifting a fundamental economic model for an upstream or downstream market). Contemplation of exit strategies and impacts provide frameworks for tracking these startups over time.
Functional areas attracting a great deal of startup interest include Earth observation, satellite communications (satcom), and space transportation (i.e., launch) and exploration. Some balance between these three areas allows for inclusion as well of two companies distributing equipment whose new technology may enable different economic models.
Several themes have emerged as success factors. Market and application development are predictably prevalent. Companies who are struggling to raise funding would generally benefit from an anchor customer to provide some comfort to investors about the market possibility; this seems to manifest in partnering approaches being taken to distribution (and supplier relationships as well for that matter). In looking at overlap between these operations, as well as overlap with other existing businesses, it is noticeable that there are some areas in which the first to launch could stop a competing startup from completing their investment, rewarding the first mover with a sustainable advantage.
Top NewSpace Startups to Watch is an assessment of the current standing and challenges of 20 startups within the space/satellite value chain. Each company is presented in a highly detailed profile, including its business model, funding history, key partners, competitive environment, target markets, and success factors in need of achievement; areas covered in the report include satcom constellations, space exploration & service, Earth observation, and equipment startups.
While not an overt selection criteria, startups were evaluated with an eye toward balancing representation in the sample by sub-segment. Functional areas that are attracting a great deal of startup interest include Earth observation, satellite communications (satcom) constellations, and space transportation (i.e., launch) and exploration. Some balance between these three areas allows for inclusion as well of two companies distributing equipment whose new technology may enable different economic models.
One of the greatest challenges in producing a report aiming to profile a limited number of companies is selecting which companies to include. For this report, selection was based primarily on three pragmatic criteria. First, they had to have been founded no earlier than 2009. Second, as this report is titled “Top NewSpace Startups to Watch,” the companies had to demonstrate reasonable probability of generating noteworthy events in the next 18-36 months.
The space industry and investor community may, of necessity, take a long view of investment frontiers, so there may be companies of interest who will not have seminal events by 2019. Those have been excluded from the sample of this current report, but could be re-evaluated for future editions. The final criterion for inclusion was the transparency of the company, in particular sufficient information available to be able to recognize where the company fit within the space and satellite value chain.
- Blacksky Global
- Cloud Constellation
- Deep Space
- Hera Systems
- Industries (DSI)
- Tempus Global