Max is the CEO of Launcher, a company that's developing the world’s most efficient rocket to deliver small satellites to orbit.
During our chat we discussed Max's background (which includes an important role in the development of live streaming), the cost of sending satellites into orbit, what it's like working with the State Department, his take as to why space exploration is important, and important entrepreneurial/startup advice.
How would you use a satellite to help you grow your business or create a new one?
Mark Peter Davis: Max, thanks for being on. Welcome.
Max Haot: Mark, thanks, for thanks for having me.
Mark Peter Davis: Alright, so let's get started. Would you mind giving us an overview of your entrepreneurial journey. Maybe start from the beginning, some context and who you are and what you've done.
Max Haot: Yeah. Great. So I'm originally from Belgium no now I'm a thankful naturalized citizen.
And, when I when I finished high school, I wanted to be a TV director. So I ended up doing an internship in London in '95 to [00:02:00] learn, to be a live TV director. And as I started that internship, I realized it was really, really tough to get a job in television. It was a TV company called IMG. But I realized that this thing called internet was kind of a starting and as a kid, I had done BBS and road mound and BBS and kind of, I've been into computers and kind of the online version pre-internet there.
And I realized that I should really focus on the internet. So I started my career building a website and content management system for a large sport federations like Wimbledon, Manchester United, the European Tour of Golf, the US Tennis Association. And within that company, we built live scoring website publishing system.
And by the time I was 20 at a hundred people working for me, building high scale websites. And then through that, as I started to specialize in videos, we were already doing [00:03:00] audio streaming at that time and then video streaming as bandwidth started to increase.
And I ended up building a lot of video product, which we sold to Verizon in 2004 or 20005.
Mark Peter Davis: You s the product or you, it sounds like you started this agency. Did you sell the whole agency or just a product?
Max Haot: I was part of a company called IMG. You can check them out, img.com. They do sport management and TV and so on and technology. But I created like a division and a product and they bought the asset, the product, which was a content management product. And with that came the opportunity to immigrate to the US. So I was already from Belgium ,10 years in England and then this opportunity was there, I was super excited about it, always dreamed to move to US or to the West coast or East coast, and got the chance. So 2005 here I come, arrive in New York, run sales for Verizon and do an earn out for two years. It's obviously as you'd [00:04:00] expect pretty corporate, but it's still pretty interesting. And then at the right time, I decided to leave and start my first real company, which was a Livestream. It actually started being called Mogulus.
Mark Peter Davis: I remember. I first met you when it was still Mogulus.
Max Haot: The vision, which is very relevant today, was a TV studio in the cloud, so that anyone could mix multiple camera and do graphics and live stream on the internet without knowing anything technical.
So, obviously today that's a very relevant proposition. as we evolve, we focused on rebranding. One of the best business decision, I guess, at the time, we bought livestream.com. Same product. We branded it at livestream, and then we focus on a SAS product to enable creators and organizations around the world from churches to schools, to businesses, newspapers, and so on that wanted to do live streaming, but knew [00:05:00] nothing about it to build a video player and buy $20,000 encoders and so on. So with livestream that could obviously easily start. And we had a very scalable, obviously video player and CDN, and very affordable. So the business became a SAS business for a white label streaming and we grew it to over 60 million in revenue. And in 2017 we sold it to ISE Vimeo. So that's at a time, you know you asked the adventure, at that time I'd already set my eyes, after between '95 to what is it, 2017, that's a pretty long time to do internet and video. And you start to think, I'm 43 what do you want to do for the second part of your career and where you want to go? And so for me, aerospace and, I have huge passion in hardware. Actually, the camera we a use now is a another business I [00:06:00] run called Mevo mevo.com. live streaming cameras that I got back from Vimeo a year and a half ago.
But my true passion and long-term adventure is to contribute to space exploration, right? In any way, obviously you have to have some commercial service. So the first service we building is delivering small satellites to orbit. And we can talk about how challenging and unique and hard it is. But while we talk about me personally, it's more about, okay, my next phase, I want to, , contribute to space exploration. I think that's the most important thing that we can be doing. In 10,000 years, if we are still around, we will be multiplanetary, I believe, and, and the moon landing, and probably Sputnik will be the most important event of at least this century in last century and beyond. Everything else is knows, at that point. So, but that's my passion and my interest and I started Launcher. So as soon as we sold to Vimeo, as part of the [00:07:00] deal, I started focus full-time on launcher. And, that's been since the end of 2017 and here we are. The Mevo side was an opportunity. Vimeo, wanted to kind of spin it out, divest it, it's an incredible team, incredible product. So I acquired it back, but the end goal is a funding for Launcher, even though obviously it's an incredible product that I love.
Mark Peter Davis: So you love film, tech and space. Let's unpack that a little bit. What was it about the film side that got you captured initially? Because you've moved away from that. What is that? And does that bleed into anything that's shaped your perspective and what you're doing now?
Max Haot: It's interesting. There's actually a movie that. Right. Computers, not film and rockets. Have you seen War Games?
Mark Peter Davis: Yeah sure. We're both old.
Max Haot: Sometimes I look back at the movie and I'm like, did that just define everything about my [00:08:00] life. That's kind of silly. It's obviously not serious, but for the video piece I remember I had the chance to be a friend of mine at High School his dad ran the only private TV station in Belgium or the only French speaking. You, we're only 10 million people there. And the French speaking is 5 million so there's not many TV stations for 5 million, but I had the chance to be in the newsroom. In Europe everybody's watching the news every day or at least did at the time.
And I was in the newsroom and seeing the live director that was calling the shots right. And cutting and doing the graphics and the live editing. And somehow I got locked on that, like, Oh, I want to do that. It's one of these things, right? So it wasn't from a film point of view, it was always from live. And I think it's so powerful, right? The idea that this person is deciding when millions of people are watching or however many [00:09:00] were watching. It's an interesting job, right. And it's high, skilled and it's tech. So that's how it started. So I ended up democratising that job right at the end, building video switchers and cameras and platform that allows anyone to do that.
But somehow in a round about way, I guess.
Mark Peter Davis: And how did you get into tech? Was that something through school or what gave you the technical chops to bridge.
Max Haot: That's the link back to War Games? I think I got a Commodore 64, or I know like at seven or something like that. And I wasn't interested in gaming so much. At the time I was doing basic programming and, like for example, replicating the cash register of the local store, like printing, choosing things in your shopping cart and so on.
So that's seven, eight year old, maybe eight. And then, I was lucky. Even at that time I saw the movie War Game and I'm like, I want a modem and I was in the computer store at that age and they had a 300 bits per second modem. And I got that and [00:10:00] that just started my interest already calling BBS and so on.
And then for one of my, like birthday or something like that, I got enough, presents for many people so I could buy my first computer, which was very expensive. It's probably, in that time's dollar, it was like 1,500 bucks to buy a computer. So for a nine, 10 year old I was very lucky my parents bought me a computer and I was a DOS PC XD computer. And then I started programming and doing different language. And then ultimately I built my own BBS software and ran it so people would call and exchange software and I would call the US to download like antivirus software to distribute them locally in Belgium.
And then my parents would get these crazy bills. It was kind of an interesting time.
Mark Peter Davis: So you were a child hacker?
Max Haot: Yeah. Well, not hacker. I might've tried to hack a few times, but I don't think it was a hacking prodigy, but, [00:11:00] yeah, I love computing, but actually at the time I fought, it was a bit, I don't know, like a bit too geeky for me or whatever.
Um, and, uh, , that was a different. So I wasn't kind of set on doing computer science and with hindsight I probably should have, no one really gave me that advice. So I was set on doing this video thing cause I thought it was really great and interesting. And then kind of the computer thing kind of got back very quickly, by the time I was 18, when I got my first, unpaid internship job that I ended up staying for 10 years at this place in London.
Mark Peter Davis: And that was IMG?
Max Haot: Yes.
Mark Peter Davis: Right. Okay. And so did you go to IMG after college?
Max Haot: No, no college, zero. So I went there, basically this friend that - and I really hope my kids go to college, I think it's pretty risky what I did but er g I did it - but this friend that had, his dad had a TV station, basically got me an internship at [00:12:00] IMG in London and it was supposed to be a one year internship as a favor. And then I was working in the library, putting video tapes in a warehouse at the time TV station relied a lot on beta video tapes to be organized and create content. So I was there, then quickly they realized that I had internet skills and computer skills. And then I basically the son of the founder, Todd McCormack, he was based in the US found me and then suddenly it's like, "Oh, okay, develop this website" and "Hey, why don't you hire two people?" And in like two years forward and we had a hundred engineers working for me and doing all of that stuff. So, it was just kind of organic. And so for two years, I think I was unpaid. and it was always like, I would call my dad and say, "okay, I'm going to go back to school." At that time I was thinking about film school. So that I'm glad I didn't do. But I was like "you sure, you want me to go back to Belgium. There's a real opportunity here. This thing, the [00:13:00] internet it's kind of might not be around. the opportunity might not be around if I go away for three years and come back."
And so I just kept going and I got a job and I got a salary and a bigger one and just yaer by year iterating.
Mark Peter Davis: It sounds like you seized the moment, scaling up to manage a hundred people is probably more useful than a college degree for most.
Max Haot: Yeah. I don't know how good I was at it. Maybe I should interview some people at the time that we did it and the products were good and the output was good. But yeah, that's an incredible, opportunity to learn and to create value. We were doing a lot of stuff. We had a lot of eyeballs at the time and it was pretty hard to scale. Right. We would do a Man United website or even Wimbledon, then we would do this JAVA app with real time scores. That was the first time. So you could go on wimbledon.com and see the scores. Even at the time the internet was obviously nowhere near as big, but [00:14:00] the technology also for servers was in the bandwidth was not there.
We would host in our office with like a 10 megabit slide. I mean it was just ridiculous. So scaling this stuff to, for this kind of world-class sport brand audienc was always learning with a fire hose. We were doing some interesting.
Mark Peter Davis: Now why did you want to come to the US? What was the, for a lot of the people who are going to hear this, I would assume they're going to be all over the world and they'll have different perspectives. Growing up in Belgium, what was the draw of the US at that point for you?
Max Haot: It's always been about work opportunity and entrepreneurship opportunities. So. England was, , I guess there were more importantly for me to do what I did in England than in Belgium. So that's, that's kind of how I ended up there and, and stay there.
And, and I love England and English people. but there was a certain, , if you email@example.com, boom, , for those of you. We're not around or whatever, like pre 2000 internet, boom. And [00:15:00] then, later, um, , there's clearly there was a lot of more things happening, even here in New York and on the West coast from, , if you look at it from, from the UK side.
so for me, it was very clear. My goal was always creating a company and getting investors. it, it just was really impossible in New York in, like I couldn't even see how I would get investors in, In London and , I'm talking about early two thousands, without, , uh, background and having proven that I can run a company myself.
And, um, , in New York, obviously there was a lot more, not more opportunities. And, I did start it with the cash proceeds that made from this transaction. So even though it was in, the AMG to veraison, even though it wasn't my own company, it was an exit and I had, uh, , shadow equity.
so it, it did allow me, , enough capital to, to start, , on my own, without any seed funding modulates. And then we kind of [00:16:00] started from there. So, yeah, opportunity. entrepreneurship coordinated it's it's clear. And, , um, , and by the way, what was interesting is I had a lot of Belgian investor and I still do, and a lot of European investors in, in my New York based, ventures.
Um, and , so there are a lot of relationships and capital you can leverage for entrepreneurship, but actually don't believe they would have invested if I was in Belgium. So
that's fascinating. And it feels, I feel like it's changed a lot. London, Paris, Berlin. Are all increasingly startup hubs. Have you had any draw inclination or desire to relocate back
at this point?
I mean, many of my friends throughout the year in New York where, , temporary expat, I've always been an immigrant. , even when I was in London. , I wanted to stay there and be there, from day one. And I just moved to the U S um, , as a, as a later decision and in the U S as I've always been like, Hey, I'm, I'm an [00:17:00] immigrant.
So, , my wife, Rachel is a, is American. My kids are American. Um, , I made move around when they around the U S or, but yeah, I'm a really proud naturalize, , American passport holder. and it turns out that it's also very important for what I'm doing now with, defense and aerospace. but it's, it's in my heart. What I want to do. Um, ,
and you mentioned your wife, Rachel. I, if I'm correct, you're half of a power, couple. You want to give me a, you mind just give everyone a little overview of what your wife does.
Yeah. Yeah. Rachel, so we've been married since, 2012. Um, and then at the time she was a chief digital officer under Mike Bloomberg, and then she, for, for New York city then, for New York state, And the governor Kumo for a few years, did an incubator and now she runs, she runs a.
An incubator in a kind of, um, [00:18:00] accelerator, for technology within the MTA as part of the partnership for New York. So she, , we both work. She's definitely, yeah, very accomplished in it's. It's amazing to, to have a partner, to not only build a family, but also, , understand, what, uh, technology is and is innovative, innovating, and, and, uh, , fully engaged in the community.
And at this point, you both interface with the government at some level, too, which is. Interesting parallel.
Mark Peter Davis: So, okay. So you came out of the Verizon role, you had made some money. How did that inform, enable you to think about your next move when you went to do McGillis livestream?
Max Haot: So it was a very simple process.
It's um, it was, okay, so. I need to start a startup, and, uh, I kind of brainstormed a few ideas. they were all centered around video. , one was a service to help video podcasts, create [00:19:00] graphics on top of the, , on top of, , easily add value and graphics and treatment. on not recorded video, right. on, on recorded video, and YouTube already was, , I'd been bought by Google and all of this was already going on right in 2007, 2008, when, when I started live stream or marvelous. and then, , another one was democratizing life. I had done a lot of live video at the time. If you wanted to do any live video, you had to, um, , buying an encoder five, $10,000, you had to go to a content distribution network companies , , no one had heard of other than, technology people.
You had to go to a sales person and negotiate, um, , a deal for maybe 50 grand a year and more and more. And then you had to build a video player, which when we started was flash, but then when the iPhone came out, you had to, , build something else and. And you have to build an entire platform and that's how, , newspapers and media companies and everybody would do live.
And [00:20:00] if you wanted to do live as a turnkey service, as we know on live stream YouTube, , Twitch, wherever that was not available. And so it's pretty good idea that once you do that red plug a camera and a computer press the go live button and ever player that can have, , one, one person to a,w, a million person watching.
and what was interesting, you can clearly tell it was in the air that the week or the month we launched at the time, our competitor, Justin TV, and Ustream that we were kind of the three, all came out the same week a month. And so you can clearly tell that. , we didn't really, we didn't really create these like somehow the stack of things that they do.
Mark Peter Davis: As the VC hat on, whenever you're seeing a deal, , there's two more out there. You just haven't seen him. So you have to be aware.
Max Haot: That's interesting. But, yeah, it was, we were pretty bummed. We're like, ah, but it's like, it's validation, , just in TV. It wasn't so successful in terms of the [00:21:00] SAS and the growth, but.
became Twitch, became, uh, the, the big winner that, , that was sold to Amazon. Um, Ustream sold to IBM and then we sort of later to, to Vimeo, but it was a, it was a, , an amazing time of the early days of what now everybody takes for granted, but it was fascinating, , we would go, , obviously trying to raise capital from strategic OVC and.
The question would get all the time. It's like, , now with video on demand on YouTube and on Netflix and what it was no Netflix, but whatever the equivalent people would be like, who needs live, like if you can. And it was like a real struggle to explain that there was a lot of value in live for the reasons we know now it's not the same thing as recorded content.
Just another category. Um, and, but now obviously it's, , I don't think we'll have, if I was starting a live video company, we would be having this discussion. So, it's really great to see how normal it is now. And, uh, , how [00:22:00] part of the world it is the expectation that anyone can learn.
Mark Peter Davis: What was the turning point when you knew it was going to work?
Max Haot: I think the, , the, the, the investor journey, the, , the capital kind of P and L journey was, , I put a few hundred thousand dollars and we got a few private investors. Some from Europe, , kind of got another 2 million in.
and, uh, , we, I was not even good traction with, uh, , your standard VCs at the time. Um, and, we did a deal with Gannon actually to a newspaper company, which invested 10 million. so that was a good day right. To, to scale. but with that, the service was getting more and more popular.
We actually were not using city and we were one of the first customer on Amazon web services. but the bill became about $500,000 a month. Wow. so 10 million is not much. and so we were, we work out of, , depleting cash. We didn't have any monetization, we couldn't raise any more money. and [00:23:00] that really wasn't looking good.
And then we started the premium SAS service. Right. So if you want it to remove ads and you want it more storage, more. Video quality. we started live stream pro or premium, three 99 a month, something like that. And just as soon as we launched it, , revenue came in and then we quickly got to a breakeven point, um, , within a year.
so that, that was the point, , enabling the SAS service. And realizing that, that, uh, , we could get to a point where we not, we not dependent on the next funding, we will have options for, for the future.
Mark Peter Davis: Do you think you could have launched with a SAS service versus waiting?
Max Haot: Yeah, absolutely.
I think, um, I think we, , the, , I think you have to go all in one way of trying to create, , a Twitch or a competitor to YouTube live. Or you obviously you should just go premium, right out of the gate. I think as , the expectation to pay [00:24:00] for services is increasing all the time.
And personally, I prefer to just pay directly and kick the tires with a trail. know when I'm purchasing services. And rather than kind of services that are mixed premium and free. And, , it's like, it's like, you're not clear where you are. So I think that that user or customer behavior is, is ever increasing now.
so yeah, it should have probably been, a premium white label, player, uh, focus on, on quality and ease of use and so on. maybe a bit more affordable, , you can see now we know, obviously Vimeo very well has built a very big, there's public information about the revenue, but a very big SAS video business with, uh, um, , $7 a month for, , $50 a month or something like that.
So, so maybe lower price and directly premium, I think. So
Mark Peter Davis: kind of an interesting narrative that you, Justin TV launched. Had interesting [00:25:00] technology, maybe didn't have product market fit and both found different market segments
Max Haot: where it clicked. Oh, it was really interesting. And that was a debate, , the gaming so that their history was, So firstly, as we, as we've done live streaming, I mean, there are billion dollar subsets of ideas in live streaming everywhere, and there's still many that are not known a billion dollar valuation, whatever you want to call it.
Right. And, there's so many, right. And it was always clear. So like, I probably think you could do, uh, , uh, , house of worship related, so, and get to it unicorn. That was kind of very big category. and, uh, gamers, , we had more GenX streaming. We were actually, there was no Twitch, there was no gaming service.
And, we accurate build, an encoder called broadcaster for gamers. And we were by far between Justin TV Ustream and us, we were the Mo the most popular, gaming category service in the early days. Right. Right. and, and it [00:26:00] was wow. Suddenly, , more Jen comes and plays Minecraft, and we have, , a hundred thousand people on the network.
and we had many time to debate, , should we focus on, on a vertical and should we focus on gaming? and you got to, , give it to the Justin TV, uh, people, , the team, they saw it, they saw what we saw. We all had the opportunity. they seized it. they give up everything else. Now they didn't have to give up anything.
We had $30 million, a year of revenue to give up, to, to basically pivot into, into, um, into gaming. So it would've been a much harder decision for us and, , by the way, we might not have executed as well as they did, , they, they really provided a great experience, and, and captured the community and added business models on it.
But yeah, the, it could have been us, but so. So are the other $500 billion idea related to livestream that some we know now and some we don't. Yeah. And an
Mark Peter Davis: interesting narrative in there that success can be a liability or a blocker.
[00:27:00] Max Haot: Yeah. The, the, the, , success and survival, , we had other revenue stream as well.
We had a production business. We had, we had an advertising business with new station. So, , on one hand we were not the classic, , here's 50 million from a hundred from a. And a name brand VC behind us. And don't worry about, , monetization let's focus later, so we didn't have that.
And so a lot of it was. Surviving, right. Like creating, proving the business and, yeah, it can be, it can be limiting if you don't get the big one. Um, but , it's entrepreneurship, , the, the most important is to keep going and create value. So, that's what we did.
Mark Peter Davis: So can you give us an overview of launcher?
I think to an outsider, they're going to look at it and think it's kind of like a space X. Right, but that's, that's a pretty layman's view of, of what you're doing. Will you kind of fill in the blanks, give us a little color around where you sit in the market and what [00:28:00] the firm's doing.
Max Haot: But actually the, the parallel for me to what's happening in aerospace or in launch in satellite is, uh, , back to 95, the early days of the internet.
So, or even the early days of computers, which I was in there, but it's, it's like, , Know, if you had started a computer company, probably at the time, there was only Microsoft and Apple or IBM people would have said, , You're you're just trying to be another Microsoft and you look at to the head and that that's just a ridiculous analogy.
There's such a big ecosystem and a need for many entrepreneurs to do many things. so that my view is that we are right at the beginning of what we can do in space exploration and law of orbit services. It's just the beginning. It's been stagnant since the first satellite, which was Sputnik in 1957.
and I want to be part of it. Obviously the most successful, the biggest, and that will remain. And that, that really opened, made it even possible to create a startup like launcher, without a few hundred [00:29:00] million to get going is, is obviously space X and Elon Musk. but that's the macro view.
So if you look at what we're doing, we building a small rocket to deliver small satellite to orbit. So, yeah, it's a rocket space. X is delivering satellite to orbit. Now they're doing Starling and we are it's smaller. Why is it smaller? Why? Because it's useful now before, if you had a small rocket, there was no small satellite, so it wasn't useful.
And now it is, so the barrier of entry is lowered to be honest everyone that's trying to build a small rocket is really trying to build the biggest rocket they could build and the the bigger is to some extent more useful but you have to be able to start somewhere. And so for the, for the context, , there's many, , some people that might watch the, there are many, , startup like launcher trying to build rocket to go to orbit, but you have to remove the whole noise from the market.
So. Out of the 200 countries around the world, only 11 have reached orbit. Only 11 have delivered something with their own rocket, their own technology to orbit. I can tell you that [00:30:00] every single one of them want to have these capabilities so that they could put defense satellite, Earth observation, and communication satellite and so on without having to do international deals with allies that have that technology. so that's the first, , if you think about that, wow, that's a lot of demand for this technology. These are all these other country, obviously. we only want to work with the ones that are allies and, and of the government with government permission, because this is restricted.
and then if you look at the number of satellites, so between 1957 to, to today, there's only been 5,000 satellites ever sent to orbit. And, out of these only maybe one to 2000 operational. Right now between entrepreneurs getting involved in, in, in satellite launch and we'll explain why that's not possible and the government and, the internet constellation such as styling is not possible to, to build a high-speed [00:31:00] low-latency internet. from lower forbit there, our proposal to send more than 30,000 satellite in the next five years. So,
Mark Peter Davis: and these are mainly telecommunication technologies or
Max Haot: they, everything there. So firstly, you have a first, I mean, even if the viewers don't know why do we even need satellites? Right. And so people don't realize somebody a thing everyday has to know it is a great creator for space should check him out.
Come on, come up with this idea of echo, decided that we should have a satellite awareness day and stop all the satellite service for a day. So everybody kind of gets an ID, but, um, , the, the one that every most people know, but the air force created GPS and we use GPS, , everywhere, Uber, Google maps, ways, whatever.
Um, , there's, observation, , we gather a lot of data, um, , from observing the, uh, for economic needs and, and trading and so on. Does all the weather, , how do we know what the weather is like in the ocean? And how do we have ships coming from China safely to California to deliver goods [00:32:00] from Amazon?
all of that is because of satellites. we have safety and, and, , in hurricanes and so on from satellite, we have, um, , high-end communication from the sea that relies on satellite. We have earth observation. How do we know that? , we have problems with, uh, with the atmosphere and we've, we've um, and we've, auctions raising and so on.
We use satellite technology. So there's, an incredible amount of value there in the traditional way. You would. Build and launch a satellite service, before let's say five years ago, the equation was usually about a hundred million to a billion dollars to design and build a satellite single one, and then about a hundred million dollars to launch it.
So you're not sending one satellite. If you can't find at least let's say $300 million before. And , if you really want to build a real service with three or four satellites, you need cashflow for your operation and marketing, whatever you're doing, right. Communication. Yeah, no, it's multiple billions of dollars of investment [00:33:00] and only governments and publicly traded like a DirecTV type company used to play there.
So now, because of the mobile phone supply chain, you can make a useful satellite, the size of a loaf of bread. Right. And, and you can, and you couldn't before the electronics are smaller, the, , you can have great sensors and cameras and so on. And what's interesting is this satellite, the, , the bomb is about a hundred thousand dollars and to launch them, it's about two or $300,000.
So an entrepreneur that's scaled, , out of, out of college, , by raising about a couple of million dollars, you can have a demo demonstration satellite, right? A single one. But the other thing that's interesting with this small satellite architecture is because they're so low cost, you can send hundreds of them.
And if you can send hundreds of them, you can put them in lower orbits that lasts maybe five years and before it burns up. But that makes it more useful because you're closer to the earth, whether you're doing communication or sensors or, or, or cameras. So all of it, the architecture has changed who can get [00:34:00] involved has changed.
And so there's a, the first market is just copying the incumbent, , so there's an example is a company called planet. it's one of the success stories there. they have, 300 small satellite, the size of a loaf of bread imaging DF every 24 hours. And they compete with some of the companies that have these incredible, and even the national recognized software Renaissance office.
That is incredible. Large high resolution, imaging, satellite, but they have five or one. so they're competing totally differently where they are, , doing more, uh, , more refresh basically of the entire it's a different data set. It's not the same resolution and every five years or less, their satellite is burning up, but they don't care because they want the next generation of sensors and they want to keep replenishing the constellation.
So it it's a paradigm shift that. you have a set of startup that I'll train to compete with the incumbents. you have all sort of government at the same. some of the same challenge we have, um, , [00:35:00] it's not known exactly how many we have it's classified, but let's say we have five, five, , $4 billion imaging, satellite that we position.
over different targets on the earth.
Mark Peter Davis: When you say we, you mean the U S
Max Haot: yes. Yes. Sorry. Yeah. yeah. Sorry, not launched yet. and, uh, , the problem is they're, they're incredible technology. The problem is that we have only five of them in our adversaries. Now have technology with lasers to fry all the electronics from the ground.
and so even the government with this incredibly expensive, important asset of the country, they have started small satellite initiative not to replace them. They still need them, but to maybe have, , 200 small satellite that do more like what planet is doing. Um, and, it's harder to target them and they're everywhere all the time.
So you don't really know. So. All of this is creating the demand for this small satellite and, and the demand for small rockets, which are, if you can make them affordable enough, they can get your satellite, your small [00:36:00] satellite, or your bunch of 10 small satellite, to the right orbit. And it's your mission.
You're not just the third level payload, , under a mission of a, of a $1 billion satellite, and so space X or whoever else it is. Doesn't really care about your a hundred thousand dollars satellite. You will go where they go when they go. so that that's the need. and currently there's, , many companies that are trying, but there's really only one that's been successful at it, in the U S it's a rocket lab and incredible company.
So they, the small space X in terms of rocket size, but incredible and scales. And then you have one in China as well. I forget the name,
Mark Peter Davis: the advantage of a smaller rocket, just for folks listening. Why does that matter? Why not just load more satellites in a bigger rockets?
Max Haot: Well, the, one of the big challenges that every, if you have a constellation, you want all the satellites to go to different orbits and different place.
And so, so having a small rocket allows you to choose, , you can, for five to 10 million, you can buy the [00:37:00] whole rocket and design the whole mission for your needs. if you go on Falcon nine, you can get more mass. It's cheaper actually on a per kilogram mass. So think about the small rocket like Uber and the Falcon nine is like the bus, right.
Or the subway is cheaper, but it doesn't go when you want to go. It doesn't go where you want to go. And there's, , a competing approach. Some people are trained to, or some people are building, , tugs to then take you from somewhere else, but then you don't have the reliability of Falcon nine.
And it's not the price of Falcon nine because you, , company called momentos, for example, that the is trying to go public with a spec or you, , you and I have to pay for their margin and their reliability on top of yours and so on. But there'll be space. , the, the air force wants small launchers so that they can replenish the constellation, a small satellite constellation, um, , in a targeted way.
and they want it to be more affordable right now. There's a premium and then, but they want it to be more available for more providers. but they also want the [00:38:00] large rocket. Right. So it's, it's just, Uh, not a product that is needed on the international level. I think for launch shirt as a, a really, , in the same way that the United States, we sell, um, F 30 fives through many allied nation around the world.
We love selling. Unique technology. we've uh, , we've said department approval. that's something we, we do as a country, in the same way. And , there are many countries around the world that would like a native capability to launch small satellite. They'd like maybe a bigger rocket, but that's a lot more expensive.
So a useful small rocket is where they want to start. and I think there's a licensing opportunities as well. , again, if you look back. Only 11 countries and two private companies, both are doing really, really, really well. So that's a good place to invest in, in, in arrive, especially if you have a unique product, and back to the unique product you asking.
So our differentiator, out of all the other companies that are trying is we're not trying to optimize for time to market. [00:39:00] they all trying to rush with pretty aggressive timeline and a developing team that goes, uh, uh, , that are building everything at the same time. Our view is to focus on performance, and have the highest performance engine at the lowest cost.
And the reason that's important is that the biggest passenger on an orbital rocket is the propellant. It's more than 90% of the mass. and so if the equivalent of the rocket miles per gallon, uh, , how much propellant you consume for a given amount of trust, if you can be a few percentage better than your competitor, you're going to be able to not just increase your payload a little bit.
You're going to, you're going to be able to double it or triple it. And the piece I didn't mention is the payload is only. One to 3% on the best rocket out of the mess. So if the
Mark Peter Davis: rocket's more efficient, you need less fuel and you can put more satellites in.
Max Haot: Correct. And on the second stage, it's one-to-one, , you save one.
one pound of proper, you get one pound of satellite to extract. And on the first stage, , [00:40:00] there's two stages like a third, but yeah, so
Mark Peter Davis: that can move the economics of delivery and the industry.
Max Haot: That's the bet. and we're not trying to go, , exotic, proper lands and things that have never been done.
we we're doing it with 3d printing. we're doing it at a very low cost of other traditional engine, but the best engine in the world, it's still a Russian engine design without computer in the seventies. and in the same way that, , a diesel car engine it's known, um, and, but it's still very hard and to make a reliable, I efficiency one.
So, so we are applying, , we're doing a lot of, with our chief designer. That's originally from Ukraine now with green card in New York, we are applying a lot of the high-performance known, designs, but to a small rocket using 3d printing, that that's all real unique approach at launch.
Mark Peter Davis: So max, you work with the state department, right?
Anytime you do anything with rockets, I'm sure the us government gets involved. How does that happen? [00:41:00] Is there a car of men and black showing up and there's some, they accost, you throw you in the back of the van and they start having conversations, or is it more like an episode of office space? Where, where does, what is the experience of the state department?
Do they reach out to you? How does that go?
Max Haot: Well, the first thing is that it's, uh, , between the department of defense and the state department and all of the, providers of technology of orbital space technology, it's a very small and close community. Everybody knows each other. So, um, , the, our first, well, firstly, we won a deal.
We were selected to pitch at the air force space speech day. the first one in November last year. and there, we, , we were, it's a closed room pitch. we've um, all of the leaders of space, missile command, the secretary of state, Barrett at the time, sorry, the secretary of the air force, uh, Barbara Barrett at the time.
And, we were able to pitch onshore and as part of their desire to, [00:42:00] innovate, , it's really interesting on their side. They, they used to have, , 50 startup building airplanes and, uh, , in the sixties, , there'll be like four new airplanes a year that would fly, um, , experimental.
And now they into a cycle where it takes them 20 years to create one airplane, like the F 35 from one vendor Lockheed Martin. So the well Roper, the under secretary of the air force is trying to bring Silicon Valley style innovation into the air force, to basically. Make sure we don't get defeated by our adversaries because we need to bring back the pace of innovation be faster.
So they are putting a lot of capital into small startups and entrepreneurs like myself, to support them, , not all the way they want, obviously VCs and investors. but so far in our case, we won, from, uh, the air force division. That's not a space for us. We want a $1.5 million grant. To test the engine we had designed, and we also [00:43:00] have, an agreement with NASA to test it at that test and, at necess tennis.
So slowly, , as you start doing innovation, , the last three years before that we were doing a 1000 pound engine at an adult test stand on long Island. And, we created enough data and videos to show that our design or high efficiency, and we know what we're doing. , then we go to the next level, we have the air force, not a space for saying, what, this, this engine, if it really worked, it was that efficient.
that will be an asset to the country, right. For our launch vehicle, but maybe other applications, there. So, , it, they don't give us the whole capital to develop it. they, they support us and award us enough. Based on milestone to continue to check us, , can they do this? Um, , we're hoping that that continues, in, uh, as we win more and then eventually we win a launch from them.
so that's how we get to know that community. Then we get to know the launchpad community, different air force base, and [00:44:00] NASA base to, , eventually we obviously need to launch the rocket and it's all pretty natural. It's that don't trip don't we, we were invited to the Pentagon to do a briefing.
, and these goals just keep happening. but it's less exciting than
Mark Peter Davis: I was hoping
Max Haot: for their department. I hope I never see the, the, uh, the black van. but you have basically our lawyers in Washington, DC there's processes and you, yeah, you, it's not that exciting. You describe, , if you want to permission, for example, to work, with Ukraine or something like that, some project we have, you describe what you want to do and you follow the process and then they grant you an approval and ask you questions.
but it's not, face to face yet. so that's the long boring answer to your question.
Mark Peter Davis: Most of this they're giving you grants. They don't want equity in the company. They're trying to get you to build the technology so they can be a customer later. Is that the right?
Max Haot: Yeah. So from their point of view, they, they don't want to be in a single vendor [00:45:00] situation.
So they, the air force or the space falls, doesn't build rocket themselves. They buy from, um, , the defense industry and the aerospace industry. they don't want to end up in a situation where there's only a space X left there. That's not a good day. and they've had that in the past a monopoly that that's not great.
So they into diversification of companies and they are into diversification of, um, Of, uh, , uh, formats, right? Like a big rocket, a small one and in different, right. So that that's their goal in, in funding it. And, um, and , and it's part of that bigger agenda that was mentioning for will Ropa, which is.
We want to reboot the defense innovation in the country, and we are going to allocate, , they are locating billions of dollar and the USP's are, we are becoming easier and easier to work with. It's been amazing. It's Like the, the speed at which we were pitching and then being awarded, and then, , the simplicity of [00:46:00] the contract and the payment, , I would have never imagined that working with the government would be this easy, but it's part of this thing of trying to accelerate and make it easier.
And then the big pitch is exactly, as you said, as, and if you work with us, we don't take any equity. We just want you to succeed. That's great.
Mark Peter Davis: Now this may sound a little bit paranoid. And I don't think it's a question I've ever thought about in the context of a startup. Are you worried at all about spying?
Do you, is this something you have to pay attention to internally with trade secrets and technology? and if yes, what do you do to manage that, that maybe a normal tech startup is not doing.
Max Haot: So the, so the technology that we develop, which is propulsion for orbital launch vehicle peaceful use using satellite, can also be used for weapons.
it's called dual use technology and that's not our goal. It's not what we're trying to do at launcher. and as a result, it's, it's basically controlled through [00:47:00] a treaty called item. And, uh, , for example, the F 35, I was mentioning the Lockheed Martin Lockheed Martin count the sales person of lock-in and can't go to countries and sell it.
They can, they can, , kind of initiate it, but for the deal to happen, the state department need to do what they do, leverage other deals, whatever, and then approve it. and so all the technology that relate to, , propulsion and, and launch vehicle is really, into like a safe box. in terms of the IP within the United States, it's not, we can sell it around the United States as long as it's safely and all as data.
but we cannot sell it outside. And that means also who can work on it. It has to be green card holder or us citizen, or we have to get a license. but we cannot explore this IP, um, without a permission. And that's, , that's just the way, there's not some sort of
Mark Peter Davis: special background checking you have to do when people come in, this is the [00:48:00] state department reviewing who you hire
Max Haot: is the first level, , in the government you have,w, top secret and other type of, of ITA is kind of the most benign of them.
Um, and , what we have to make sure is that we don't leak this information outside and only us citizen or green card holder have access to it. That's our, , and so we have obviously encryption and storage and our rules, you follow for ITA. But for example, we had a, one of our team member is a Spanish.
And, we did get him a license, um, , and, and so he could work on certain aspect of our engine, not all of it. And so you have to manage that, but it's, it's actually, , a lot of people are worried and scared about it and it's, there it procedures and then permission procedures that are, , it takes a bit of time, but it's you just, you just get it done now back to your question about spying or cybersecurity, um, , as you mature right now, we only in the.
Development stage, right? Like [00:49:00] the, the, the, it's not a proven design that goes to orbit. It will be. And so as you get closer to that, of course you will have adversaries. Um, , that's the right term,w, we're in a game, , with many countries and of course you'll have advertisers res attempting to, to steal it.
, imagine if you could get, all the blueprints of, in the software code from Falcon nine of space X. So that's kind of a. Uh, , in the spy game, that's kind of a good asset, right? So, absolutely. As you, as you get closer, as the stakes get higher, it becomes probably. , one of the top priority, at companies like space X that have a finished product, for us it's on the way.
And we do obviously all the best practice you would expect in following ITER an it security.
Mark Peter Davis: So satellites, I think at this point are relatively commonly understood to be commercially viable space tech, but there's other parts of the media story around [00:50:00] space technology. Could you apply it on the following?
Space tourism. Is that a viable, practical thing? Is it farfetched? Is it on the come? Where does that fit in the world of reality as an insider in the industry?
Max Haot: Well, the space industry is small, so, um, you got to be careful of what I say, but my point of view is that I'm very frustrated as a lack of understanding of orbit and space.
And so space is just going on a joy ride to above 50 miles, right? It's an arbitrary line. And people think that when you go to space, when you've turned off the engine, you are in space. Well, no, when you go to space and you turn off the engine, you go right back to where you started and that's what's called sub-orbital that's what Jeff Bezos is trying to do with, uh, with New Shepard. That's what Virgin Galactic is trying to do. Personally, I'm a macro fan of space exploration [00:51:00] and taking risk with, with people's life for actual space exploration. I consider these, joy rides and I think they don't make sense.
The risk of being on a rocket. Like, I, I want to go drop it. I want to go to space station. I want to go to miles. I want to go to the moon. I don't want to take that. Right. I mean, if you died on that, it would be the most ridiculous thing you did. And by the way, because you just went, you didn't even go to albeit space and you would like.
No, what appears like lack of gravity, but you can get on a plane. You just falling back on earth for just a few minutes. And then your family, is there waiting for you at the same spot now? Albeit is that the process of going to that altitude and then accelerating horizontally at 7.5 kilometers a second?
that's about, No 20,000 mile an hour, basically, once you reach that speed and you are outside the earth atmosphere, when you turn off the engine, [00:52:00] you stay in definitively depending on the obit, right? And if you go faster, you go beyond the earth. that our thing is a very important, activity for humans to do, building infrastructure in law for bait and starting to explore the stars.
And I think tourism related to orbit something I'm very excited about, um, , going to the space station or some of the early space tourists that went to orbits. So there's a big differentiation, , not a fan, I think, uh, , it doesn't make sense. The suborbital space tourism, and I'm a big fan of, um, of, orbital space tourism, more or travel beyond that.
I think it's very important. , the reason we went to the moon is because, and the public wanted us to go to the moon. , the, the money comes through Congress and Senate and the president. And at that time, not everybody wanted it, but the public wanted it. For many [00:53:00] reasons, including the cold war and the threat of not being number one, with, with the Russian or the Soviet.
and so we need to inspire people. We need to get them excited, whether it's creators or artists or movies, like they're talking about Tom cruise, going to the space station. I look forward to the day Elon is going to go, to the space station. but we need that because we need to create more awareness.
You'd be shocked at how many people don't even know. We have a space station, like it's like, Oh, do we really have people living outside? ?
Mark Peter Davis: Why
Max Haot: does it really matter? Right. Why do space for space exploration? Let's take that as the
Mark Peter Davis: next bucket. we all know
Max Haot: it's a thing. We all know that there's a goal of putting people on Mars.
Why is it important?
Well, it depends the future you want to be part of. Right? So to me, it's very simple. There's a future where we never do it. and I think [00:54:00] humans are, , we are a virus. We can build technology that reduce our consumption and reduce our damage, but it can not go to zero and it cannot go in net positive.
We use results to live. It's just what we do. I also think, , taking even a step back that to the ID, , um, , I, I care deeply about the earth and the environment, but the ID that we need to. stop, um, the population, the increase of population on the earth, the idea that we need to even go backward and that it's a bad thing that more humans are living it it's to me insane.
I think that's our job to have, , I call this concept infinity, humanity. We need, we need to dream of, so many humans on so many planets that. So far away from each other, we don't even know who they are and where they are. Right. That's a future I can get excited about. I can get excited at the idea that we're going to just focus on building technology, to not destroy the earth, which we should do.
[00:55:00] And we're going to limit the earth to 10 billion people. Right. Let's go to 5 billion people. to me, that's even. Genocide like you not allowing these people to live. And, uh, , the, the standard of living and all, a lot of people get depressed about what's happening on earth and so on. But the data is that the, the, the worldwide human experience is improving every day.
And, of course some people have not very good lives, but the average I think, is worth living is what humanity is about. Especially if you increase it. So. So for me, it's important because that's a future. Like the alternative is just the most depressing thing ever. whether it happens in this lifestyle, this lifetime never, or 100 lifestyle lifetime, I don't know.
It's a pretty crazy ambitious goal, but I know that if we don't develop the technology and we don't contribute to it, we will, we will never get there. and if you think about it, , 1957 Sputnik sounds like, Oh, space is all, , these black and white images. But [00:56:00] for the, , on this 10,000 year timeline where, , eventually I hope we're not extinct and, , children's of children's of whatever or learning at school.
What's important. They're not on earth. I mean, that's crazy. That just happened like a second ago. Like the, so I was, , before 1957, we had never put anything in orbit. We didn't even know what would happen with food as possible, whatever. And so. we have just done this and it's the technology is accelerating, 3d printing and low, small electronics, whatever.
And, , on a lifetime, I guess it's like, Oh, really old two generations ago. on a macro level thing is like, wow, I have the chance to be part of it. and why am I going to live my life without any interaction, with it, if I believe it's the, the future of the earth. So that's, that's why it matters to me.
Mark Peter Davis: about space mining? I've heard about companies that are kind of mine minerals from asteroids or other [00:57:00] planets, and maybe bring it back to the, to the earth. Is that practical? Is that a reality or is that scifi at this point?
Max Haot: I mean, , the. Well on a different kind of macro view, I think it's worth to have, , 10% of people on earth should be working on space exploration.
, the 90, the 90% other can be building resource to make the better that's, that's how big thing it should be. And having, , talking about taking 10% of all resource, right? Th the 10% tax or whatever, and putting into space exploration. If we did that, like if we knew there was an asteroid coming and destroying us, we probably would put 60% or more, but.
but if we did that, um, , mining and everything you're talking about is not, it's not like scifi in the way that it relies on technology we don't have today. it just relies on time. , it takes 10, 20 years and, , appropriate amount of money, in which money is really just people.
Right. a lot of people that are focused on that [00:58:00] versus right. , I don't know, building Amazon warehouse. so. Yeah, we, then that it's not farfetched and when it happens, it will change everything. Um, , to a lot of the natural resource prices we have and the options we have, is it about to happen?
Would I invest in a startup doing it? Probably not. um, but, but it will, it will happen. The opportunity today in my view is, is related to lower forbit. whether, , some of the tip of what you see is a styling is an incredible. opportunity and that's just the beginning. I think we should start with that and then the government should take us, beyond that, to the moon and to Mars.
maybe not with their own rocket, maybe with other people's rocket. but, but it will take awhile before that's a money-making endeavor. the law forbids it's now I think next 10 years, big time.
Mark Peter Davis: So last question in this bucket, this category of space tech space force. [00:59:00] It's a popular word. Now the average American, the average person around the world may be may this, is it practical?
Why do we need it? How does it fit into the scheme of what's capable? What risks are there addressing? I think we just get headlines and we don't get enough color without being in the space industry to understand. Why it matters.
Max Haot: I mean, firstly, the space force has existed the last 30 years it's called the impart space and missile command within the air force.
And so the, their mission is been to first use space to use the latest technology instead of sending you to plan, , having a satellite, looking at what, North Korea is doing and, and, and China and whatnot. So, , if you believe in, and also have communication infrastructure for a military and so on.
So if you believe which obviously I do believe, that we, , we need an adequate and the world-leading, um, , defense and military, [01:00:00] that part of the job is the air domain, putting infrastructure up there to support everything else and having the best one. out of that came GPS, and that was, , numb created.
And it's actually donated to the world by the air force. It's a, it's an incredible thing that people don't know. And then things have accelerated, there's been many treaties that says we shouldn't put bombs, nuclear bomb. and I really hope we never do. And I hope we haven't yet. We the world in this case, in obit, um, and, And we should not weaponize space, but, for whatever reason, these developments have evolved.
And now there are, there are adversaries or meaning other countries have technology that we have a laser that can disable any satellite. So now you have all these assets. That we need, right? We can't do anything, , aircraft carriers or drones, whatever you think, , if you believe in the mandatory we need, they are subject to only a few of [01:01:00] these, , best size satellite that countries, if they're, if we started a walk and.
Amen light laser at and stop. So that's, what they, what we would call a contested domain, like, like the oceans that you need, you need to defend. And so the intervene we've been doing that for a long time and the space force is all about. It's not this hidden thing that no one knows about as part of the air force.
It is, , uh, its own top level department of defense organization. I, I think it makes a lot of sense and I think it's, it's great that, uh, That, , if you believe we should have an air force, , I don't see any reason why you should believe we should ever a space force given the recent developments.
Mark Peter Davis: I know it can drive founders crazy to wait while websites are in development. And I'm thinking of all the people who've build mobile apps and webs. , the stuff that consumers are used to engaging with. I'd imagine the development cycles are much longer for building space, ships, speak, , engines and other [01:02:00] types of technology.
How do you stay sane?
Max Haot: I mean, my first experience with hardware right, is consumer electronics is the camera called . And a lot of people are afraid of hardware, right? It's a hardware is hard and you have to manufacture it. It's not just software. but the process that exists is slower. but it really.
Good and reliable. And I really enjoyed them. Right? It's it's it takes a year to make a new camera and you go through, , design and then prototyping, and then, , you get your tooling made and then your manufacturer makes a few, a few runs. And then at the end of it, right now, we, we going for
next year we opt to do more than a hundred thousand cameras and it's like, literally, you cut some POS and then your source inspect 5,000 of them in, in, at the factory through a third party, then it shows up in a warehouse you've never seen in California. And then it goes through Amazon and customers.
So you, you, , it says it's slower, but it, [01:03:00] the level of professionalism and the process. , make it even like, I think more enjoyable to develop. there's more at stake. You pay more attention. You don't change it last minute, but the product can be equally as good and innovative. So longer timeline was already my experience.
building a Mevo camera and others, for launcher, we on a 10 year timeline and the four year timeline to build the engine. , for example, we did a test, in October at NASA for our full-size 22,000 pound thrust, 10 ton combustion chamber. And we learned a few things and now we printing another one in December.
We changing the designer. We printing in December L arrive in January, February. We'll do all the machining. And so on in March, we will test again. So, , October to March, that's kind of the timeline for serial number two is the long cycles. Yeah. But during that, , you're playing a chess game.
And so you have this thread, right? And we have this thread, which is, we need our combustion chamber and our injector to work perfectly by the end of 2021. [01:04:00] And maybe it's that iteration or the one after, and every four months you have an iteration, but at the same time we developed being our pump and we developing or avionics.
And so you can't be impatient and you have to start a lot of threads in parallel. And, and you have to really make sure you don't get into tech that end that's where in hardware, if you make the wrong choice, right? You build, you have your next, with the wrong process or you choose the right, the wrong material for your 3d printed engine or the wrong 3d printer or, or the wrong cycle.
You can make these data in and spin for three years and then nothing at the end. so that that's the biggest, stake. And I think that's where I'm kind of, it's one of my skills. I think at least that I've developed, , to avoid that measuring the risk architecturally, , the technical choice.
but that that's the only, the slowness makes it problematic if you made the wrong choice. like it really is fatal. but other than that, , it's a barrier of entry, [01:05:00] right? Like once you get going, I mean, you can see space X they've been at it since 2002. 18 years. And it's like a steam roller train right.
Of technology that keeps adding on top of each other. and groups of people that get like attracted like atoms to each other. So, um, , once you get going, it's, it's, it's fast, , I mean, I don't, I don't think you need it faster personally.
Mark Peter Davis: Historically, a lot of the heaviest, most sophisticated particularly hardware technologies have been built out of the West coast.
Max Haot: I run a New
Mark Peter Davis: York based firm, as , and I'm out here in New York with you, how has NYC served as a location for launcher?
Max Haot: Well, the, actually the, the origin of the, aerospace or, Aero industry was the long Island. The, the lunar Lander. That went on. The moon was actually developed in Bethpage on, on long Island.
so it started here and then it kind of spread to the West coast in the last, uh, , four or five decades, there, [01:06:00] um, , for building a hardware or building any startup, you need a place where people were feminists can go and live and be excited and graduates can come and live and be excited.
and, um, I think New York city is as good as all the other Metropoulos LA being another aerospace one. but what we have, um, , here, which is also amazing, we've had a lot of political support and, uh, , we're unique. So we able to attract, um, , talent without any problem. Um, , in terms of infrastructure, you anywhere, , space sex doesn't test in LA, they test in Texas.
, we test now we used to test on long Island, the small stuff, the big stuff we tested at NASA Stennis. So from that point of view, it doesn't matter where your design in your factory is. So I think New York is going to end up being a great asset for us. And, the, the other thing that's also very different is since I started launcher is, um, , , if you build an internet company, an AI company, whatever you're going [01:07:00] to compete with Facebook, Google on talent salaries.
it's going to be really tough as a startup, beyond the founder to get, to get the top talent. we've propulsion and rocket, and, and there are, we get, , job application multiple times a day on solid stated. I don't even have a jobs page on the website we should, and people will, will move from anywhere, to.
If they believe you're building it and you're going to fly, it doesn't really matter where, where you are, for the top talent. so in that way, , aerospace or, , propulsion technology or a rocket is being, It's been really, really refreshing the quality of the people in the demand. And if you take it back, , there are more spaced out of that there's ever been, and there are more 3d printed rocket engine developed than there's ever been.
But, , there's still like only maybe, , five to eight. Um, you S , [01:08:00] liquid rocket engine being developed right now, actively. Right. Right. How many startups do you have to compete with? So it's still, it's a lot more than before, which was between zero and one. at any time, , a new engine being made, but it's still like nothing eight, like th that's it.
so if you want to work on these technology as a graduate, or you're an experienced person, um, , it's, it's, it's the team and the progress we've made in the approach and New York is actually a great plus through to the equation of, of, attracting this talent.
Mark Peter Davis: What is the space industry need at this point?
The people listening to this, how can they help? What should new entrepreneurs build? The
Max Haot: biggest thing is public support and public understanding and awareness. that's the biggest differentiator and you have actually two, two big groundswell going on one way is me and one encouraged me. So the first one is if you watch a space X or any launch, even ULA, which is the government would look in Martin and Boeing, or [01:09:00] now rocket lab, any launch to a bit of any satellite or humans.
You're seeing more and more and more viewers on YouTube and other place. So the content, the interest is growing every day. It's a groundswell of, of the young people. Mostly I believe, and creators that are helping, um, , making it popular, and that's really happening. So that's good. We need that.
Right? We need all these people, whether they're voters now or later, Too, in my opinion, right? To tell the, the Congress man that they should be, , we should be allocating more resources to space exploration. On the other end, you also have the more concerning piece, at least again, in my opinion, which is, , we should exclusively fix the earth.
There's too much, obviously suffering and poverty and any space exploration, um, is a, , a fantasy and it shouldn't happen. And we should not even worry about this. And it goes even further to end the billionaires doing it. Meaning Elon [01:10:00] Musk, I guess. And, Jeff Bezos, , I'll just, Trying to be escapist and, and, wasting the, wasting our money on, on this stuff just for the fantasies.
And that is dangerous. And that's also growing, unfortunately, these two, really opposing view. I, I see them, um, , , which one I hope will win. And I, I hope what will win is obviously a better understanding of what is orbit and space, not just this abstract thing and a better awareness that we need to do, , save the earth.
And use a space to make the earth better, and invest strategically in it. So that, that's what I hope. And that comes from it needs to be more popular and it needs to be more understood. And, uh, , then the government can allocate more funding to it. Whether, , we build this rocket to go to the moon in 2024, we do it later.
Elon Musk rocket or whatever. I personally don't don't really care. but [01:11:00] what I care is that the NASA budget grows and the, the general investment in the industry grows. I get, I can add more engineer coming out of school are working on this problem than today. Basically. Where do you see
Mark Peter Davis: the space industry in 10 years?
I mean, it sounds like you're hoping it's going to garner more attention, more support. What does it look like? 20, 30.
Max Haot: I mean, it's not, I'm not hoping. I mean, you can see the, there was zero VC and the P investment. Why maybe some PE, but zero VCC to series C into satellite or launch companies. Five years ago, or maybe seven years ago, and now it's there.
Right. and so, so, um, , I'm hoping that that really grows. And then on the other side, do you have, commercial success that are starting in our space? X, rocket lab? I mean, you can see, everybody wants to be sex, do IPO, and they're creating a vacuum, but there's definitely a, [01:12:00] a groundswell of, of interest to, to invest more on that side today.
Not a hope. and then the government, , is investing more point that's, that's a fact that's just going to keep increasing and increasing and increasing for defense need and for backup need and also to be the leader in aerospace, in, in the world. So, all of that. Yeah. I see a world where we go from 5,000 satellite, 2000 are useful.
To a world where we have, , maybe 20 to 30,000, we have new services that you and I can't even think about today in the same way when the day the iPhone came, you couldn't predict, Uber and I wish we could have all done predicted all the top apps, but we couldn't meet it. so we, we definitely will have, or maybe you did, I don't know if you invested, but, the, but , not one could predict with full certainty.
So we're going to see new applications. as well as, as a growing market. [01:13:00] and we're getting the entrepreneurs involved. I mean, w what I'm talking to you about before, , even Elon Musk, which opened it up with a hundred million dollar, when he started SpaceX, there was a hundred million dollar in the bank account.
No one would want to join and everybody was laughing at it. And today all of the vendors, all of the suppliers of parts are interested in us because we could be the next one we might not be, but they can't afford to ignore them. They might not be in that point of view and, , uh, SpaceX and you Musk get to Sue the air force to get them to speak to them.
We are invited to pitch to the leadership and we get 1.5 million. Wow. And, , we have, I have to thank him, , for me, it's the Steve jobs or the bill Gates of, of, of the space industry. I, , I'm sure he wants a monopoly and he doesn't want anyone else to play. But I think the reality is I think there will be a bunch of companies of different size, um, , in a full ecosystem, thriving the [01:14:00] next 30 years and many, many, many entrepreneurs.
Um, , in the space to a point that it's not weird, like, Oh, you just want to build another space. X it'd be like a normal thing. Of course, we should be having innovation in, in lower forbidden and beyond
Mark Peter Davis: max, your story as an entrepreneur, through all of the legs of the journey that you've shared are fascinating.
You've had experiences that I think very few people maybe in the entrepreneurial ecosystem have had in general. What is the most important thing you've learned? If you could give everybody listening to this, a bit of advice that would help them, what would it
Max Haot: be? One of them is I have two. One of them is,
if you don't If you don't make a decision, somebody will make it for you.
That's just the way I live in entrepreneurship, to have triggers, right? Because your company and your team is really an organism or an algorithm. And my job is to make sure that we make these decisions before [01:15:00] they're made for us., right? Whether it's running out of money and somebody close your company, if you don't do it yourself or whatever else, on the more inspiring part, , the, what I've really learned through, , seeing how the team interacts with me and what inspired them to work together.
And w , the ability to do new things and through their career and all the things I've tried. I think my job as an entrepreneur in the early stage, which I'm not back in, is really the chief experimenter and, and, , and its DNA to just want to experiment all the time. And, , as the more people are like throwing at me objections and.
And, , reasons and process, , the more you just, I get energized and, and realize that, , that's my job, right? That's not, this would not happen unless I was able to get rid of all the objections and give it a try and also create a framework that we're giving it a tray. And, , we, we tried 10 things and to stick [01:16:00] in that, that's the job.
So. I think the reality that the whole thing is an experiment and the pace of experiments and the curation of, of, of focusing on the ones that work. and basically the only way to do it is to be okay with, No process. and so more and more as a maturing, as an entrepreneur, trying to have no process.
and then if you want no process, what happens is you need really amazing people that really want to work with each other. and so that's kind of the circle format and we've me, it's interesting. this team I had worked with for on average 10 years, and then they went to Vimeo and then we did a deal with Vimeo and they kind of went back to work with me and we all really enjoy working with each other.
And, it's been a year and a half and we've grown, , three X revenue and it's, it's been just incredible launch a new product. I spent very little time and we never have any meeting. We don't have all lands. We don't have one-on-ones, with like, there's no [01:17:00] process, but Hey, we make a hundred thousand cameras.
Right. And we sell them and it's been, in the analysis of that. And there's no drama is just, you can only do that if you have the most. incredible team and then the, uh, , a vision and a place they want to go. So that's, , I think one of the best lesson for me has been really taking me time to realize that.
Mark Peter Davis: I ask a clarifying question because agile is a very popular method. When you say no process, do you mean there's no method where you're not meeting on a certain frequency? There's no structure, it's simply things need to happen and you rely on them happening. How does this function,
Max Haot: , you, you, when you want to start with people, I want to compartmentalize, Oh, this person shouldn't have access to this tool and Amazon, and this person, , like hard limits instead of just working together.
W w I just get rid of all of that. and so it's an experiment at, at Mieville I think at some scale, we'll change it. [01:18:00] but it's the connection. , what I'm trying to articulate is the connection between an inspired team, that very, very talented engineers that want to work together. So their matrix, they're not, , there's no like drama and politics and, and if you can get that, then you can operate without any, um, , like all ends and big meetings and weekly meetings and tag up, but we do it all just organically and it works incredibly.
And the, , they still have a call every week with our manufacturer in China and we have source inspection, we have accounting and we have, but it's the idea of like, just like minimum, minimum viable process is I guess the, and so anyone, somebody is trying to put a process at me or at least I'm not interested.
And so far it's working incredibly, But the point here, it sounds a bit radical, but right now it's working, but it's, , you can't do that without the team that can do it and want to do it. And so, , picking and working and creating that team is, is what allows [01:19:00] it. but if you think about it, when you put a process is just to control a lack of trust in teams in between people, or, , when you put hard lines of responsibility, you're just as a CEO trying to manage something that's already broken.
That's kind of, my, my more recent, , entrepreneurial experimental learning, maybe ask me in a few years, whether it made sense. Yeah. I'm gonna say we need to do a check back in when the team's larger. Yeah, yeah, no. I mean like anything, right? Like in a, in a startup, everything changes as you keep going.
Mark Peter Davis: How big is that team? Currently
Max Haot: nivo is 40 people, and it's working great that way right now. So
Mark Peter Davis: max, thank you for taking the time to join us.
Max Haot: Great now, thanks. you've asked. You should, that should be your profession, , get rid of that VC thing. You've asked really, really, like a deep question.
You got me talking, so I hope no one was boring Bora.
Mark Peter Davis: Oh, I wasn't grateful for you to share. I feel like I learned a lot. Thank you for taking the time.
[01:20:00] Max Haot: Thank you.
Mark Peter Davis: The max for explaining to the space industry operates. If you liked what you heard, please hook us up with a five-star review, wherever you consume your podcast and feel free to share with a friend. You can find me on Twitter at MPD. If you're listening to this and would like to watch the video versions, you can subscribe on YouTube and Facebook.
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