The space industry is making room for startups

The space industry is making room for startups

Like space exploration itself, launching a project in the space sector has conventionally been something that only major players could attempt to do. But the industry is changing – and it’s making room for startups and small businesses to add new dimensions to business beyond this world. 

Francesco Bongiovanni (CEO at Orbital Solutions) is tapping into that opportunity. We had a chat to find out how leaning into your entrepreneurial spirit can help you reach new markets – and how being a musician helps him in tech and space. 

What was your very first entrepreneurial project – and what was its outcome? 

“It was many years ago in China in a totally different sector of activity. An industrial joint venture. It was a very interesting and exciting experience in a new environment that was in the process of being shaped. It didn’t go very well because of political and other reasons, as has been the case with many joint ventures in the PRC – but I feel I learned a lot.” 

What was the inspiration behind Orbital Solutions, and could you share any milestones you're particularly proud of? 

“I was inspired to establish Orbital because I discovered that the revolution in the space sector that had up until recently been the purview of large organisations, was now opening an entire new world to small companies and entrepreneurs. You could now become part of the fascinating adventure that is space. 

“We built and launched the first satellite ever made in Monaco in 2020. Last year we launched, with SpaceX, a miniature satellite assembled by high school students who went through our STEMMSAT educational program – a world first outside the US. 

“We have gained expertise and credibility and are now cooperating with large companies and entities such as the Saudi Space Agency on some projects. My focus is on the application of small satellite technologies to environment, climate, and education.” 

If a fledgling entrepreneur told you their biggest obstacle was their own confidence in their ideas, what would you tell them? 

“Being passionate doesn’t cut it. To be an entrepreneur you need to be obsessed. Then you might have a chance to make it. Similarly, just thinking out of the box doesn’t cut it. You need to be aware that there is no box to start with.”

You’re a musician as well as a tech CEO. How do you find time to make music alongside your work in tech – and does music support your entrepreneurial spirit?

“Music has been my best friend since my childhood. Writing symphonic classical music is a process that is not philosophically too different from building a satellite. You need a bold idea, musical or spatial, and then thorough implementation. I also write books – my latest book on geopolitics will be published in a couple of months. Same overall process. 

“Music has the advantage of freeing your mind and taking you into another dimension.” 

Finally, what was your best experience at LEAP 2024? 

“The people I met. You can see that people at LEAP are open minded, optimistic, full of ideas, and cooperative. The vibes are positive. This is not a place where you meet people who are lazy, complaining or are self satisfied. This is a place where you meet people who are pushing the limits. They know it’s risky but they try anyway. I like that.” 

Thanks to Francesco Bongiovanni at Orbital Solutions. Immerse yourself in the LEAP experience in 2025 – pre-register now.

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