Q&A with Zero 2 Infinity
By Crowdcube. 12th Jun 2018
Zero 2 Infinity’s mission is to unlock the aerospace market by offering a frequent, sustainable, and cost-effective launch to Space. We caught up with the founder and CEO, José Mariano López-Urdiales, to find out about their current raise on Crowdcube and the future plans for the company.
How did the idea for Zero 2 Infinity come about?
Growing up around scientists, astronomers, and innovators during my early childhood inspired me to pursue the idea of simplifying and broadening access to Space. After graduating from university and working at ESA, Boeing Phantom Works, and The Boston Consulting Group, I decided to set up Zero 2 Infinity (Z2I). Z2I offers a vision for access to Space with efficiency, economies of scale, and innovation through simplification of the problem. For reaching orbit, you need speed and altitude. We broke the problem in two. We first fly through the densest layers of the atmosphere through a balloon and then use a rocket propelled system to gain speed.
How do you plan to generate sales and who are your potential customers?
Z2I is already being paid by customers for its current business line, Near Space. These customers, like Airbus, are potential customers for Bloostar, as well as the numerous customers who signed us up to €1 billion in Letters of Interest. The sale generation has already started and more and more customers are knocking at our door, validating an expanding market.
Why do you think this niche of nano and microsatellites is going to grow?
The market of nano and micro-satellites keeps growing despite the lack of solutions and the high prices to launch in a conventional rocket. Imagine what will happen once a dedicated launcher is available! We do think that a direct consequence of Bloostar is that even more projects will be announced and that unique projects like nano and micro-satellites, with non-standard sizes, will become more standard.
Who are your competitors and how do you differentiate yourselves from them?
Our current competitors are ground-based heavy and large conventional rockets. They can accommodate many small satellites, but they are not flying the nano and micro-satellites to the orbit of their choices. We differentiate from them by offering a dedicated launch to the exact orbit needed. This is essential for building a constellation of nano and micro-satellites positioned around the globe on different orbit plans.
We also differentiate from other nano and micro-satellite launcher projects because Bloostar starts in Near Space. At this altitude, the air is so thin that we can design our rocket differently and thus allow for more efficient satellites.
Why is a balloon better than a rocket and why there are no any other companies using this method?
The balloon brings Bloostar to Near Space, but Bloostar is not a balloon technology, it’s a rocket designed to operate efficiently from Near Space and in Space. Hence its shape doesn’t need to be aerodynamic and allows for a better engine distribution and mass optimisation. It generates less vibration and therefore can launch more fragile equipment. It starts in quasi-vacuum environment allowing the use of pressure fed engines instead of expensive turbo-pump engines. Finally, it offers much more volume under its fairing in order to host and launch satellite equipped with large instruments.
Some newly-born companies start to understand the advantages of a stratospheric launch and think about this method. More copycats will come, but we have the first mover advantage and nine years of stratospheric operational experience. Furthermore, none of them are truly taking advantage of the Near Space environment in which we start.
What is the rationale behind your valuation?
Prior to this current capital raise, Z2I received just over €5 million (€5.2m) worth of investments. Today’s valuation reflects the value of Z2I’s running, revenue-generating business, its patent ownership and development to date of Bloostar, the substantial value of its Letters of Intent for Bloostar (€1 billion), and the talent pool of employees and advisors to the business and their respective networks.
How do you see the company in the next 5 years and what is the potential for investors investing today?
Z2I is a highly innovative company with a vision to simplifying access to Space. Bloostar is set to disrupt traditional satellite launch economics and has the ability to propel Z2I to becoming Europe’s premier private Space company over the next 5 years.
How do you plan to use the money raised on Crowdcube?
The Crowdcube raise will finance the next technical milestone for Bloostar, a monopropellant 3-axis controlled demonstrator to be launched from the Near Space. This will be an important validation for the Bloostar concept, and represents a logical next iteration in the engine development.
You have an agreement with the European Space Agency, what is it about and what are the implications?
The European Space Agency has selected Bloostar in the frame of a micro launcher study. The study helps to optimize the launcher design and its performance. Zero 2 Infinity remains the owner of its intellectual property and commercial exploitation.
Dassault Systèmes is also one of your current partners – What is this collaboration about and how did it come to be?
Dassault Systèmes offered Zero 2 Infinity to pitch in their incubation program in 2017. Z2I did it and won. Dassault Systèmes’ interest is to promote the use of their software licences in the development of hardware technologies. For Zero 2 Infinity, the gain is free access to the large database of licences that Dassault Systèmes is providing. These includes roles for mechanical design, generative and topology design, electronics, mechatronics, project management, and planning. This also includes mentoring and training, and the promotion of the Bloostar project through the Dassault Systèmes events and network.
Find out more and invest by visiting Zero 2 Infinity’s pitch page.
Investments of this nature carry risks to your capital. Please Invest Aware.