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Beyond the Pitch

3 Ways Starting a Company Is Like Commanding a Space Ship

Starting a Company

From the time I was a kid, NASA programs and space exploration have been a touchstone of dreams for me.

It started with my dad, a lifelong learner who’s always been involved and fascinated by innovation. Dad was in college when Sputnik went up and John Glenn orbited the earth.

“John Glenn was a hero,” Dad told me. “Young people were enthusiastic about space and what the future held. That’s the way I felt.”

Recently, I watched an interview with astronaut Scott Kelly, Commander of the International Space Shuttle. Commander Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are flying a yearlong space mission to study the effects of long-term spaceflight on the human body.

Flying in space, Commander Kelly said, is a privilege, and I thought, well, that’s how we feel at Rev1 about working with entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship has a lot in common with Commander Kelly’s description of venturing into space.

  • The pull of gravity. Commander Kelly was gravity-free and bouncing around the laboratory module as he conducted his interview. He even did a few somersaults. Entrepreneurs aren’t exactly gravity-free, but when you are in a fairly structure-less environment and creating something from scratch, it can be a challenge to stay grounded and on task. Having mentors and trusted advisors and being coachable helps keep an entrepreneur’s feet on the ground.
  • Every leap for mankind starts with a small step, or is it the other way around? The first word in startup is “start.” Interestingly, when Ohio’s Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module onto the surface of the moon, it wasn’t a small step at all. The module’s shock absorbers hadn’t compressed, so his first step was actually about a four-foot jump. I can’t tell you how many times working with entrepreneurs that a “small” step forward turns out to be huge leap.
  • Astronauts and investors look for the same kind of talent. Commander Kelly was on the hiring committee for Space Shuttle astronauts. His criteria for astronauts—technical competence, proven high-performers, team players, and high diversity. “It’s a huge team effort, not just your crew members here on board, but also with all the folks you have to work with on the ground.” He could have written the postings on the Rev1 Jobs Board.

We can have all the great technology in the galaxy, from the likes of Lockheed Martin in California, Boeing in Oklahoma and Washington State, to the NASA launch sites in Texas and Florida, but without amazing astronauts like Commander Kelly or Ohioans John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and Jim Lovell, where would we be?

It’s the same with startups and entrepreneurial teams. Early stage investors tell us all the time that they invest first in the entrepreneur and then in the technology.

In the same way that Ohio is home to 25 astronauts who have made 78 space flights, including the first American to orbit the earth and the first person to walk on the moon, we are helping the state become home to dozens and dozens of new startups and successful entrepreneurs.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many astronauts are from Ohio—we are the birthplace of human flight. People—especially young people—are inspired by what they see others doing. Over time it gets built into a state’s DNA.

That’s why everything that’s happening in Central Ohio with startups and entrepreneurs here matters so much—we’re adding to our region’s innovation DNA.

It’s like aiming for the moon. And it’s why Rev1 is so excited to be part of it. Contact us.

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