Throughout history, trade routes have emerged to serve those pursuing commerce in all its many forms, from the recovery of value from natural resources, to tourism, to manufacturing and agriculture, to migration and exploration. Specialized markets, or niche markets, inevitably develop along trade routes to take advantage of specific conditions and to meet the specific needs that exist there.
During the last thirty years, space commerce has emerged as a commercial reality at various orbital altitudes around Earth, and it too, is conducted along the trade routes that lead to various Earth orbits, along the highway between Earth and the surface of the moon. Space commerce to date has certainly occurred within niche markets, and capturing such a niche market in today’s very limited commercial space business usually requires very specialized innovative hardware, as well as an innovative business concept.
This chapter discusses four startup ventures that address ‘niche’ markets and products in space. We discuss how each started with a business model concept, raised risk capital in various stages (which is sometimes referred to as ‘smoke and mirrors’), used its core innovation effectively to produce a profit, protected it with patents and other means, and eventually how a small team of varying talents survived the startup venture environment and absorbed some lessons learned.
|This paper was first published as part of Space Commerce, The Inside Story, published by the Aerospace Technology Working Group (ATWG) and included on this site through the courtesy of ATWG, ISU and the individual authors.
Other extracts from this publication can be found here.