Infostellar, founded by Naomi Kurahara is one of those NewSpace startups that I truly respect. Infostellar is very much values based and about its people. Their focus is very much on the talents of their people and also utilising their talents to tackle complex problems. Everyone is an active player in the team. Their focus is on team integrity and in working together to tackle the challenges they are facing. According to Forbes, Infostellar wants to build a worldwide ground station network with the aim of sharing antennas on a global platform. With more and more satellite launches, CEO Kurahara estimates the market could be worth about $300 to $500 milion by 2022.
So what makes Infostellar successful? Here`s my take:
My previous observation may have given you a hint as to how I think of Infostellar and their people. When I visited their office, it gave me a sense of Google, plus PlugandPlay plus WeWork. Without any stuffiness but lots of fun, modern furniture and space, this is by means not an easy feat for any startup to upgrade with speed and eagerness. One of the things I find truly wonderful about CEO Kurahara is the ease with which she displayers herself as the leader. I think if you have your work colleagues, friends and competitors are at ease around you most of the time, then you are on a winning race to success because working in a startup is tough and if you keep the trust and confidence of your people then that`s the stuff success is made of.
Conduct themselves so that anyone can rely on them to perform. Hold their work to a high standard.
Always ask “why?” Question existing frameworks and take action to improve them.
Are confident in their skills but retain beginner’s mind. Always seek to improve themselves both technically and interpersonally.
Treat everyone, both inside and outside of the company, with integrity and sensitivity.
What I like about Infostellar is the focus is truly on the people that make the organisation great. Building Trust is a life skill and one that applies to all walks of life, at work as in home; Rethink and remake makes me think of a child learning and doing, undoing and redoing again; Never Stop Learning is learning and doing without fear of making mistakes and when it happens to appreciate it is all part of the learning curve. And finally fostering respect, I think putting the ego aside in any work environment is important and have it so obviously stated I think puts squarely where Infostellar is at in terms of fair treatment of colleagues and others.
3. Providing Communication
Infostellar is offering an essential need in the current and future world of communications. In their vision, they envisage that in the future when we work in outer space that we wuld need to communicate and how would that be possible? Imagine how can we video chat on earth as in space? Their vision is to extend the internet from earth into outerspace offering the largest communications service.
Quoting CEO Kurahara:
“We want to expand the ground-based internet to space,” says Kurahara. “If you think about the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s all connected to the internet. But that’s not true for satellites because each one has a different protocol. There’s no standardization for communication.”
“Eventually we will need connections between Earth and the moon or Earth and Mars,” says CEO Kurahara. “Privately funded communications infrastructure will be needed for commercial communications for these kinds of projects. Eventually, we would like to help build an internet for space.”
4. Setting Standards
Infostellar sees themselves as setting standards by reshaping satellite operations in 3 major ways:
- Shifting the paradigm to antenna sharing, opening up large numbers of antennas for use and dramatically increasing access
- Solidifying satellite communications into a standardized system so that this increased access can be seamlessly utilized
- Creating a real-time transmission environment for satellites, thus lowering the barrier to entry on satellite operations
When half the world still is in need of internet access I think Infostellar would have a healthy demand in terms of their services and also as we make our way into space.
5. Female Leadership
I am all up for good leadership and self demonstration is the finest example. CEO Kurahara is one of the few women leading in NewSpace. It is an observation that is hard to ignore. What is impressive is as highlighted in the above discussion on vision and mission, her focus is on the people as much as the technology. Though aren`t we all aware of how when organisations grow their approach to people changes? I think understanding this as a starting point is invaluable to a NewSpace startup like Infostellar. As they say, if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together. At the end of the day, business is about relationships and how we work on those relationships.
A great salesperson might make a sale, but it is one with a great relationship with the client that sells effortlessly. It is wonderful particularly in the context of seeing very far and few examples of female leadership that we see one fine example here, especially in Japan. Infostellar is an inspiration to all.
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Written by Helen Tung
Emergent Tech Advisor/MINERVA Fellow