Spaced Ventures is an interesting culmination of a variety of things. I'd hit 25 years old—my background is in finance and marketing—and I was doing…fine. I wasn't the youngest CEO of a company, but I was fine enough that I could kind of predict my future. I was like, "this feels relatively successful, but there's gotta be more to life than this." So 25 years old, I have what I call my quarter life crisis. I end up in South America, in Paraguay of all places, teaching second grade and volunteering for two years. I was trying to find out: How can I make a difference? How can I create more meaning in my life? I think there's a lot of millennials that are thinking that way.
After I've been down there for a while, I essentially run out of money because you can only volunteer for so long without money. And I met my now wife down there. So we're down there, had $500 in a shared bank account the day we were married <laugh>, so I had to get back to doing growth marketing and stuff like that. I was doing remote work by necessity, before it was required, all sorts of crap work, because back then remote work was a big benefit and you had to take big pay cuts to get it and all that stuff, but I needed it.
That's the context for watching that first Falcon Heavy where Elon launched a Tesla into space—it's fairly iconic. Specifically when those boosters are landing side by side, coming back down, it feels super science fiction-y. I love it. I'm always thinking about living in the future, but that was always a fun fiction sort of thing and the world is much more boring and pragmatic. So I had compartmentalized those two things, and then I saw that happening and my brain essentially broke, right?
It's happening in front of my eyes, I'm watching on a livestream in Ecuador at the time. So I say, I gotta figure out how to get in there. For over two years [I was] just learning as much I could about the aerospace industry, how it's NASA and maybe a couple other companies. Naturally, because I had been doing things with growth and startups, I ended up talking to founders in the startup industry.
I saw a pattern after probably about five conversations, but then I had dozens of conversations and it was the same thing over and over again, which was: I need somewhere between one and five million. That was always the number. I need this much money. Every VC I talked to, it's always the same. Come back to me when you have revenue, and I'll give you all the money in the world kind of thing. And they were always stuck.
There's a lot of money going into space. It seems like there's money everywhere for space companies, but the reality is that money is going to very few. Most of the early stage companies, which is where the innovation is at, aren't getting it. They have this problem: VCs are used to saying, "Hey, bring me the product and a million ARR, and I'll give you as much money as you want." But you need a couple million just to get something in space or to even get to the point of where you potentially are gonna have product-market fit. So that's where there's a risk misalignment, and I said, okay, there's something here.
Also, as a space nerd who had been learning as much as I could, and hadn't been able to break into industry, it was pretty obvious that there was a disconnect between the public and being a part of the aerospace industry. You were either an engineer or a billionaire and that's how you got in. So I saw two problems and I said let's marry those and make it work.