SETsquared Blog

My top five tips for running a successful space tech business

Proteus is leading the way in harnessing the availability, accuracy and resolution of satellite derived imagery coupled with advances in processing technologies to deliver global mapping solutions for environment, agriculture, forestry and marine use.

Early on, we identified a gap in the market for the provision of habitat and shallow water mapping and have since been building a successful niche in this area.

An example of this work in action is a recent project undertaken for the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD). Following an open bid, EAD awarded Proteus the contract to create a fine-scale land-use, land-cover and habitat map for its entire terrestrial area, as well as its coastal marine environment from multispectral satellite imagery. Proteus have just completed the first phase of this project, having delivered the first set of classified habitat maps.

This will be the largest and most detailed delineation of habitats in the world. Advanced image-processing techniques together with validation through field surveys have resulted in data accuracy exceeding 90% in the land and 75% in marine areas. This powerful data set will allow environmental decision-making to be much more objective and quantitative.

Here are my top tips for running a successful downstream space technology business:

  1. Always keep it simple
    Don’t get bogged down in the technology, concentrate on identifying the problem that your technology can solve. Clients aren’t interested in algorithms, they want solutions, so it’s therefore vital that you can clearly articulate the value your data can bring to their organisation.

  2. Let your passion for the business shine through & develop your team
    Your natural enthusiasm and passion for your business will inspire your clients, funders and investors. Excellent customer care is vital to the success of your start-up. It’s also essential to have good people in your organisation – develop them to a point where they take accountability and responsibility.

  3. Look outside of Europe for contracts
    There are some big players in the UK and Europe, so be prepared to look further afield for projects. We’ve had multiple successes overseas including the example project highlighted above for the UAE Government. Other contracts have included mapping projects for the Azerbaijan coastline and Antigua.

  4. Be prepared to not have an income in the first few years
    It’s a cliché but cash flow is king for any start-up. Developing your product, market proposition and establishing clients takes time, it therefore takes time to develop a revenue stream. Be prepared to work hard, juggle responsibilities and not get into big debt to realise your dream. Use your contacts wherever you can – especially the ones that owe you a favour.

  5. Access specialised business support
    We were introduced to SETsquared by InnovateUK. The team at the Bath Centre is fantastic. It’s so important to have that external perspective, as it easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day running of the business. They can give an objective view on where to take the business next, markets to look at and advise on opportunities and/or funding streams available.

Find out about Proteus Geo and the support available from SETsquared for space technology start-ups