YHABFT: 2013 NewSpace Business Plan Competition

[Note: As those of you who follow me both on this blog and on twitter (@rocketrepreneur) have probably noticed, my tweeting hasn’t been as negatively impacted by the stresses of running a startup as my blogging has. Unfortunately a side effect of this is my habit of doing a 5-6 tweet “thought” instead of writing a blog post. At that point, either Ben Brockert or Will Pomerantz invariably remind me “You Have a Blog For That”. So, in their honor, I’m starting a new series of YHABFT blog posts even shorter than “Random Thoughts”.]

As those of you in the entrepreneurial space community may have heard, the NewSpace Business Plan Competition, normally held in conjunction with the NewSpace Conference, will be a separate stand-alone event this year in late October. Executive Summaries for teams that would like to compete are due by next Thursday, August 29th at 5pm PST. If you’re working with a team that’s either in the process of launching a new aerospace startup, or have been in the business a few years and haven’t competed yet, I’d strongly recommend applying. It’s a great way to learn about how to construct an investable business plan, and to learn about what sort of things Angels and VCs are looking for in a space startup. The bootcamp and judge feedback is worth far more than the cash prizes (which have been getting quite substantial this year and last year), and the opportunity to pitch your company to friendly representatives of serious investment firms is one that you shouldn’t pass up if you ever intend to raise money. Not to mention that winners of previous competitions often get invited back to be coaches in future years, which has been in some ways an even more valuable experience than competing in the competition originally.

Here are a few suggestions from my experience over the past few years, if you’re planning on competing (though note, that I’m not a judge or executive summary evaluator, so use an appropriate-sized grain of salt):

  1. Make sure you make a clear connection between your company and how it will help with the economic development of space. Otherwise excellent business plans with weak connections to space development haven’t fared as well in the past.
  2. Humility doesn’t come easy for the sort of self-confident people that typically become entrepreneurs, but the teams that do best are often the ones that listen best to outside input.
  3. A business plan/executive summary is a marketing document trying to sell your company to an investor. While your technical secret sauce is part of that story, more important is a tie-in to a clear market pain you’re addressing, how your team is competent to address that need, and how addressing that leads clearly to making a healthy profit (as well as aiding the economic development of space in some manner).

Good luck! I’m looking forward to helping-out again this year.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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