I am Matthew Travis, the President and COO of Aphelion Aerospace. We are a dedicated nanosatellite launch services company. We provide turnkey low-cost access to space! I will provide insight into some of the accelerators and programs that we have participated in. Furthermore, explaining how they have been valuable to our growth.
Accelerator Program #1
In 2019, we were finalists in the NewSpace Business Plan Competition. This program was hosted by the Center for Space Commerce and Finance at the New Space Conference in Seattle, Washington.
An intensive week-long event, this was designed to help startup companies create and perfect their pitch decks. We were a part of a “pitch competition” where we presented in front of a panel of investors at the end of the conference.
The winning prize was $2,500, this is very little for a startup building rockets. The input and insights from the mentors and fellow entrepreneurs participating made for a great experience.
The program helped us to refine our pitch, our business model, and reach out to others in the industry with whom we may do business in the future.
In fact, a couple of partnerships resulted from our participation. So, this was a beneficial event for us to participate in. And of course, Seattle in the fall is always nice as well!
Accelerator Program #2
In 2020, we took part in the United States Air Force AFWERX EngageSpace Program.
AFWERX is a rapid contracting program within the United States Air Force. AFWERX is also within the Space Force. Both enable startup and early-stage companies to gain access to government contracts. This also provides funding with interested stakeholders in the Department of Defense.
The program’s structure was interesting. It’s a new program that is organized into three phases.
–Phase 1: The first is a company like ours. Our project proposals, pitch deck, and other company information were uploaded onto their portal. During the three-month review process, organizers of the program eliminated candidate companies. The goal was to select the top 15% in the rankings.
–Phase 2: An event called Spiral 2, was to present as an exhibitor at the EngageSpace showcase. Spiral 2 is like a trade show where investors, government officials, and people in the private industry attended the showcase.
This is where we presented our proposal. We reached out to individuals in particular in the Air Force to begin the process of winning contracts with them in the future.
It was an important opportunity for us since we presented in the showcase.
We now have a contract vehicle with the Air Force Department of Defense. We can now go directly to different entities within the Air Force or Space Force, speeding up the contracting process.
This can take six months to a year, we can actually close a contract in as little as 45 days with this. We are currently looking to secure one of those contracts.
–Phase 3: We did not participate in the third phase. During the process, the officials in the Department of Defense reach out to one of the exhibitors and propose a contract.
We are in the early stages so we were not surprised that we did not get that kind of outreach. We also kept in mind that we do have this contract vehicle at our disposal.
So why is this valuable for a company like ours? A large segment of our customer base will be from the government. Contracting with the government is different from commercial sales with private citizens or private companies.
There are more regulations and paperwork. By going through AFWERX, this gave us exposure to how that process works. It differed from a business plan competition, while complimentary to it as well.
Accelerator Program #3
This summer we participated in the Rockies Venture Club HyperAccelerator. This program was very valuable to us. This was described to us as being like drinking from a fire hose. And that’s exactly what it felt like.
It was a week worth of intensive training with long 8 hour days. It provided education for what it takes to bring a business from idea through startup. This would be achieved through funding and long-term growth. Resulting in a return of the investment by the founders and investors!
We had workshops on:
-Pitch deck development
-Various methods of calculating company valuation
-Outreach to investors
-Capital plans, etc.
(I can tell you that our CEO and I participated in it and it was exhausting).
Additionally, a lot of accelerators spread out over eight or 12 weeks. Meaning we had the potential of being in them for a couple of hours a day. Other accelerators require travel to the location of the accelerator with a month or two spent onsite. This was really intense. Everything was compressed into a single week. This was not exclusive to Monday through Friday.
It took the entire week, which was okay. We came out of it with a better pitch deck and business plan. Additionally, we gained a better understanding of ourselves, our business, and exactly what we really need to do to grow the company long term. Which was extremely valuable to us.
In these types of events, there are investors present. So when a company participates in these, it’s also exposed to the investor community.
A Great Experience
Three events and programs that we have participated in that we have found extremely valuable and educational to us! We plan on attending more of these programs as we continue to grow the company and our team. If you are interested in learning more about us, please visit our website and feel free to reach out as well!