Leading Queensland Spacetech startup Gilmour Space Technologies has just raised AUD $19 million to ignite its rocket technology to get satellite into Space by 2020.
The series B investment round was led by top venture capital firms in Australia including Main Sequence Ventures and Blackbird Ventures which led the previous AUD $5 million series A round in May last year, investing in other premium Spacetech startups such as Fleet.
The problem Queensland Spacetech is trying to Solve.
With small satellite technology trend getting massive amounts of global attention, Founder and CEO Adam Gilmour states that there will be thousands of small satellites slated to launch into low-Earth orbits (LEO) over the next five years. However, he cautioned that these new players will be faced with challenges such as high launch costs and limited launch opportunities.
Ultimately, however, what customers want are reliable, timely and affordable launches that get their payloads to where they need it to be, said Mr Gilmour. Previously, there haven’t been enough small rockets available for launching these satellites into space, making them very expensive.
To address this bottleneck, “Gilmour Space is developing a new breed of hybrid rockets that will offer dedicated LEO launches to small satellite customers at very competitive prices.”
“With our new rockets and Australia’s well-suited geography, we plan to build a commercial ‘road’ to space that will put Gilmour Space and Australia on the global space map.”
With no formal engineering qualifications, Gilmour set about figuring out a way to make rockets cheaper, and “started building the technology from there”.
The startup was founded in 2012, but initially, it created space simulators, with plans to launch an academy. It wasn’t until 2015 that it started working on rockets.
The $19 million investment is pegged to help him achieve this goal. The funding will be used to “beef up the team”, particularly in navigation and control, he says.
Drawing on his banking experience, Gilmour says he is “reasonably sophisticated in cash-flow management”, and plans for the substantial investment to last the startup for three years.
He’s also planned enough time and money to develop the rocket and test it at least three times. Some startups will secure only enough funding to test once, he says, “and if that fails, they die”.
The investment will also go into securing a bigger factory, and investing in equipment and materials, Gilmour says. Australia is seeing a surge in interest in spacetech, particularly since the announcement of the Australian Space Agency in May.
“Investors are definitely interested,” Gilmour says, and there’s no reason Australia can’t lead the global space revolution.
His ambition is to play a part “to make sure humanity go to space; human space flight is well on our agenda, exploration of solar system is well on our agenda ” he says.
As a self-taught tech founder, Gilmour’s advice for other founders is to do as much research as possible before commuting to anything.
“Talk to a lot of people, the industry is very open, people are incredibly friendly and communicate well. And when pitching to VCs, the trick is in the planning.” he says.
He also warns that it can take a lot longer than you expect to develop technology, and advises startups to be ready to overcome more challenged than they may first imagine.