Executing Your Idea with Kim Perell and The Grand Future Of Space Travel with Miguel Ayala, Jon David Cunningham, and Michael Genest

We may sometimes wonder what’s keeping us from getting our goals or reaching the peak of success that we have been dreaming about in spite all these great ideas and grand plans that we have. Kim Perell, author of The Execution Factor: The One Skill that Drives Success, walks us through a deeper understanding on the power of execution that leads you to your dream success.

 

Imagine a vehicle that takes people on a space tour and let them stay in a space hotel for a week or two. This is the vision of Miguel Ayala, CEO, Jon David Cunningham, CFO, and Michael Genest, Senior Technical Advisor at Exodus Space Corporation. They share how they have been working on this plan of space tourism with all its splendor, starting from a small unmanned space plane that carries satellites to space, to a long-term goal of large full-scale vehicle that would carry twenty passengers to be able to spend a day in space traveling around.

TTL 298 | Space Tourism

 

We have Kim Perell and we have the CEO, CFO and Senior Technical Advisor at Exodus Space Corporation. Miguel Ayala and Jon Cunningham who’s also known as JC and Michael Genest are here. Kim is a CEO at Amobee. She’s a national bestselling author. She’s got a great book, The Execution Factor. She talks about execution but she’s also a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalists. That leads well into the discussion with Miguel, JC and Michael because we’re talking about creating this Exodus Space Corporation. They’re going into space and you can go with them. This is an impressive group of guys that have an unbelievable background. They’ve got this startup and you can someday take a trip into outer space in one of their rockets. It’s something that’s not out there and I’m anxious to find out more about what they’re doing with their vehicles. A vehicle would probably be a better term than a rocket for what they’re doing, but we’ll find out when we talk to them.

Listen to the podcast here:

Executing Your Idea with Kim Perell

I am here with Kim Perell who is an entrepreneur and executive Angel investor. She has two decades of experience as CEO and president in the marketing technology sector building high-performing teams, overseeing complex mergers, acquisitions, integrations, and scaling global operations. She’s the CEO of Amobee. She has a book and it’s a USA Today national bestseller. Congratulations, Kim, and welcome.

Thanks, Diane. I’m happy to be here.

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The Execution Factor: The One Skill that Drives Success

This is going to be fun. I was interested in your book. It is timely because it’s called The Execution Factor: The One Skill That Drives Success and I’m interested in everything success because what I work on has to do with some of the things you talk about. I love that you’re dealing with execution. Before we get into that, I always like to get a little bit of background on people like what led to you getting into this spot. I was looking a little bit at your bio and it looks like you went from working at your kitchen table to a multimillionaire. Can you give us a little background?

It wasn’t that easy is all I can say. I wish it was. I grew up in Portland, Oregon to two entrepreneurial parents so it could be in my DNA. Working for my first company out of college, it was a hot internet startup in Los Angeles. It was the job of my dreams. It was right after Yahoo had gone public. It was exciting. I was like, “I’m going to be a dot-com millionaire.” I was 23 and most people laughed at me. I believed that and I went to work for an incredible company that had raised $1 million in funding. I was the seventh employee. It was a precursor to Dropbox. This was long before cloud computing. Infrastructure was expensive and we ended up raising about $120 million in funding and it was honestly like being on a rocket ship. It was so much fun. When you think of that dot-com time, I truly lived it. It was an amazing experience until it wasn’t. That dot-com bubble burst and with it shattered my dreams of becoming that dot-com millionaire. In an instant, my future, my identity, my income was deleted. The company went bankrupt and they closed the doors and shut off the lights. I found myself unemployed, broke and not knowing what to do.

Looking back, I had great experience in digital advertising from my time there and looked at what were some other opportunities. Everyone told me to get a real job. My parents laughed at me and said, “The internet’s a fad. That’s not going to become anything, Kim. You should go get a real job.” I believed in the opportunity and I didn’t need much because the internet, you don’t need a lot of infrastructures to support it. I needed some money to start my own company and I wanted to focus on what I could control. That experience was devastating, having to lay off me, my friends, some of which didn’t talk to me for decades later. It was one of those dark experiences that you hope no one ever finds them self in. From there, you have to decide what you’re going to do next.

I decided I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. I looked and tried to find an investor that might want to invest in the internet. My track record of bankruptcy was not good. It was not helping me get investment into anything. I made the one call to the person that I thought would make this investment, which was my 90-year-old grandmother. She didn’t know what the internet was either and she would say, “Kimmy, I don’t understand what the internet is. $10,000, what’s that going to get you?” I thought, “Nanny, that’s going to get me a computer. It’s going to get me a GoDaddy account so I could make a website. It’s going to get me a one-way ticket to Hawaii.” She’s like, “Is there internet in Hawaii?” Try to explain that. It’s not easy. Honestly, she made a bet on me and she believed in me. She didn’t know what the internet was but she believed in me and she believed in my vision to start this company. That’s what I did. I got on a plane and I went to Hawaii.

People think Hawaii sounds like, “Why would you go there?” I could live rent-free with my boyfriend. That’s why I went to Hawaii. It wasn’t a bad place to be and I thought, “I could live rent-free and it’s a good place to start,” and that’s where I started from my kitchen table. It was about getting back to basics and sitting at the kitchen table. His sister and her girlfriend lived with us too in a small apartment. It was in Honolulu. They would sit there nearly nine feet. I could almost touch them listening to MTV all day and smoking weed. My kitchen office would fill with smoke and it’s hard to concentrate. I spent a few years working at that kitchen table. In hindsight looking back, everyone has a kitchen table. From my experience, everyone has the ability to start something.

My research into curiosity was what was the spark behind everything? It kept coming back to curiosity. To be motivated, you have to be curious about something. To do the next step, it starts with that spark. What was the thing that you were curious about doing? What was this company idea?

Digital advertising. There had been moving to advertise from bricks and mortar to online. It started with the search advertising and then went to display advertising. Now there’s social advertising and mobile advertising and video advertising. It’s evolved over the last many years. Why would they move from putting an ad in the Yellow Pages to put an ad online? How would they know who’s going to see that? There was a lot of concern of even that. Two decades ago, it didn’t have the increase in ad spend that there is right now. When you look at the digital advertising spend, it’s over globally $100 billion. That wasn’t the case when I started.

A lot of it’s changed and you’ve done well. You’ve been named one of Ad Age’s Marketing Technology Trailblazers, Business Insider’s Most Powerful Women in Mobile, and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. You figured out how to do it pretty well. Congratulations. My daughter works for Tealium and she does a lot in the marketing and all the backend stuff that I can’t even explain. She’s into all these fascinating areas. I remember she worked at FetchBack and some of these different companies. I learned vicariously through her some of the marketing things. I’ve taught a lot of marketing courses and did a brand publishing course with Forbes. What we learned is how challenging it is for even the best of you guys who know what you’re doing because as you start to try and reach people at scale, you lose the personalization. You’ve got ten million vendors to deal with. What was the biggest challenge for you in that industry?

Advertisers want trust and transparency. Our job from a technology perspective is to create that and create that right ad at the right place at the right time and to be able to track it. That brings that trust and it brings transparency back to the advertising spend from a marketer’s perspective. It’s ensuring we stand for the customer success and client success.

You’ve got all this success what you’ve done and then you decide to write about execution factors. What leads from marketing to talking about that and Angel investing and all the stuff that you’re dealing with now?

There was one skill that drove my success more than anything else and it was execution. After I’d sold my company in 2008 and sold again in 2014, I wanted to pay it forward because my grandma had made a bet on me and it was life changing. I wanted to pay it forward and made a bet on other individuals and entrepreneurs that were trying to take their dreams and make a reality. Over time, it’s looking at these 70 investments and what made those a success or a failure. I had my own operating experience as well. Looking at the red thread, it wasn’t about the idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It was about the execution of that idea. It was important to me to be able to share that learning and experience. People say, “Kim, I got a great idea,” and I’m like, “I’m sure you do. How do you take it from that dream of executing it?” I wrote the book to share it and teach it to others.

Some people are strategic, some people are tactical. It’s sometimes hard for them to combine the two, having a great idea and the next being tactical and doing what you have to do. You said you sold your company, but you were 30 years old. You weren’t even 30 selling your company for $235 million. You knew what you were doing so we’re going to listen to you here because we’re going to get some free tips of how we’re going to be better at this. What I’ve found is some people are good at thinking, but they plan these plans. They’re good at planning and have great ideas and then they never go anywhere with it. Usually, they hook up with the Wozniaks or the people that can get the stuff done. They have great ideas but somebody else may be doing the down and dirty stuff. Can you be both? Is it better to surround yourself with a team?

In the book, it outlines that my father’s a great entrepreneur, a true visionary. The reality is I don’t think you can do it alone. For me, there are five traits of execution and one being a vision. Another one also being relationships and that is surrounding yourself with those types of relationships that are complementary to your skills. How do you do that? That’s important to be able to be a good executer because you could be a great visionary, but if you don’t also pair yourself with great relationships, it will be hard to bring that vision to life.

Execution is the one thing that drives success. Click To Tweet

I was in sales forever and relationships were such a huge part of that. I was looking at your five traits of execution and they’re vision, passion, action, resilience and relationships. How do you differentiate between vision and passion?

The vision for me is having that crystal-clear picture of what you want to achieve, whether that be to start a company, to sell a company, to buy a house, to run a marathon. Be specific in what your goal is. Vision without passion is not going to get you far because how I see passion is it’s the Latin root word of pain or suffering. It’s what are you willing to suffer for? If you want to run a marathon but you don’t want to get up and run, there’s a disconnect. It’s having a clear vision and then be willing to suffer for it in whatever way that that comes out. There is no such thing as an overnight success. I have not seen one. I don’t think I ever will. There are great ideas, but it takes a long time to build them. Knowing that and having that commitment is important and that passion to keep you going long after everyone else will give up.

The action would be what part of that puzzle then?

You have that passion but then having the first step because it’s easy to get lost in analysis paralysis or you’re so passionate, but then you have to do something. I’m passionate, I’m willing to do it, but you have to do it. It’s hard when you have a grand vision like, “How am I to get from here to there?” It’s breaking up into small mini visions. What’s the first step if I wanted to start a company? Maybe do the research or get a business site. There are easy steps and if you did one of those steps every single day, you’ll get one step closer to achieving that vision.

You mentioned resilience. Is that tenacity involved in that? What do you mean by resilience?

Based on my own experience and having seen a lot of great companies, something always goes wrong. There’s always something that’s going to go wrong and it’s knowing that you’re going to get knocked down. When I look at one of the companies that I started, I can remember one time being in Ikea and my tech guy called me and said, “Kim, we lost a database,” and I can remember sitting there frozen saying, “That’s the entirety of our business.” To be honest, I didn’t pay for a backup because I don’t have any money. That is when you save the company. That was the end. At that point, do you pack up shop? I was trying to get out of Ikea in a maze of the furniture. I saw the light as a garden center. How do you cope with that experience where it could be the end? It’s having the resilience to get back up and to face the embarrassment, face the failure. I had to call my clients and tell them what had happened. Tell them I didn’t have a backup server and I would invest in one and gain that confidence back. It’s having that courage to get back up and knowing that resilience is a muscle. You have to keep working at it because it’s going to be hard out there. It’s about when you’re getting knocked down. You have to believe more than anyone else in order to continue to move forward.

A lot of people fear to make those phone calls and all the things they fear. The studies show most of the things you fear aren’t going to happen. When you called them back, did most of them have empathy and feel sorry for you for what you went through? Were they mad? What reaction did you get when you have to do that?

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Space Tourism: Vision is the crystal clear picture of what you want to achieve, but vision without passion will not get you very far because passion is what you are willing to suffer for.

 

They were disappointed. They believed in me. They trusted in me. People surprise you. They did have empathy and understood that I was doing the best I could and I had made some bad choices, including not buying a backup server but I had given them the commitment to do that. It’s scary. I didn’t want to make that call, but you build the courage and you do it anyway. It’s having that courage.

People make mistakes and things happen. I don’t think there are any successful people I’ve interviewed who haven’t told me some horrible thing. Their company crashed, something happened. All the things you’re talking about are common. When you’re talking about successful people, I was looking at some of the notes from your book and how you flipped the notion on it and said success is all about the great idea and an advanced degree or high IQ. How much does that play a part in anything? Do you have to have a high IQ, a Harvard degree?

No, I don’t think you do. I don’t have one. You have to be street smart but you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. I’m not. Growing up, I wasn’t in advanced AP. My brothers and sister were and I was like, “What about me?” I had different talents and I have different strengths. It’s about finding those different strengths and being the best at what you can be and not trying to be like everyone else. It’s great if you have a degree. That’s awesome. I totally support them, but I don’t think that’s a necessary criterion in order to achieve success whatsoever.

Bill Gates is a good example. Not everybody finished college. You have investments in over 70 startups. You even sold a Fortune 500 company. How do you pick where you do your Angel investing?

I’ve invested in everything from marketing technology to beauty to real estate. You have to have a good idea, but there are a lot of great ideas. I’m investing in individuals and companies that can execute. I believe they embody these five traits. That’s from my own experience, where I’ve seen the most success and honing in on that. I’m clear of how quickly I can access their potential for success based on the traits that I look for. My current investing strategy follows that.

What is the Execution Factor Fund then?

I created the Execution Factor Fund to support aspiring entrepreneurs, to help them turn their dreams into reality. As an entrepreneur, I know how lonely it can be. I was broke. I was unemployed. My goal is to pay it forward and invest in entrepreneurs who need someone to believe in them. I’m confident in the skill of execution that I believe if I can help find the ideas and the entrepreneurs that will execute them, that will continue to help them achieve success.

What does it take to execute an idea? When you say you can execute an idea, what do you mean specifically?

People need to learn how to take their idea from their dream and execute it. Click To Tweet

In terms of an idea that you would be executing, you would need to have that crystal-clear vision. You’d need to show that you’re passionate and you’re willing to suffer for that vision. You have to be willing to show me and take the time to fill up the fund and do the application. That’s the action that you’d have to take in this instance. Share some of the times where you’ve shown resilience and the relationships that have helped you get where you are now. Those are important to me in order to choose what companies that I will invest in.

What companies are you looking at in the next couple of years? What do you think are the big industries?

I do love technology. I’ll continue to invest in tech and AI. I love consumer goods. I invested in a couple of different consumer products. There’s a great opportunity and with the increase in direct to consumer products, it’s a great market to be in. That’s fun to be able to create those and to be able to market to the consumer directly. Those are probably where I’m excited in but you never know. The fun part is that it comes down to execution as opposed to the idea.

Now that you’ve got this book under your belt, are you ever going to write another one?

I’m trying to embrace the moment. I don’t know. The book reflects my life up to a point. My hope is that I have many more chapters to write in my life and in a book.

Who was this book for if you had to say the perfect person to read this? Is this for anybody considering starting a company? Is it for the workforce in general?

Honestly, it’s for executives looking to take their job to the next level. It’s for entrepreneurs looking to start a company. It’s for moms looking to start a side hustle. It’s for any individual that has a dream that wants to achieve it and doesn’t know where to start. The book is for anyone that has something that they are looking to accomplish and needs that blueprint for success.

It’s nice to have someone out there who’s done it and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel again. It happened so much in the working world and everybody’s siloed and everybody’s not sharing information. That’s why I love it when somebody tells you, “This is how I did it. This is how to do it,” and read it. That’s what I love about your book. A lot of people could learn a lot from you and your experiences are inspiring. I was wondering if you could share how people could reach you, how they can get the book and anything you want to share?

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Space Tourism: When you have a grand vision, the first step is to break it up into small ones. If you do one of these every single day, you’ll get one step closer to achieving that vision.

 

I appreciate, Diane. This has been great. To learn more about the fund or the book please go to KimPerell.com or you can find the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any other book retailer. It’s widely available and would love to hear from you. Please go to the website, send me an email. I’d love to hear how I can help execute your dreams.

It’s so nice to have you on the show, Kim. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Diane. I appreciate it.

The Grand Future Of Space Travel with Miguel Ayala, Jon David Cunningham, and Michael Genest

I am here with Miguel Ayala who’s the CEO of Exodus. I’m also here with Jon David, also known as JC Cunningham who is the CFO of Exodus. Michael Genest who is the Senior Technical Advisor at Exodus Space Corp. It’s nice to have you here, gentlemen.

Thank you.

Thanks for having us.

It’s good to be here.

Some people are just really good at thinking, planning, and having great ideas, but they never go anywhere with it. Click To Tweet

I’d heard about you through Terra Rothpletz who was wonderful to share what you’re doing. You’ve got quite a network of engineers from NASA, top aerospace companies. I’m fascinated by what you’re doing at Exodus. I’d like to know some of the backstories, like with David Luther. What happened? Which one of you wants to take the origin of your company?

This is Michael and can handle that one for you. If we become a big famous aerospace company someday, we’re going to have a colorful origin story. Mr. David Luther began working on this design of the vehicle that we’re working on. Several years ago, he’s been iterating on this design. He had the notion for this horizontal inline configuration, which ultimately became the patent that makes one of the distinguishing features of our vehicle. He spent quite a while iterating on the design and trying to bring together people via reaching out to them on social media, in particular, LinkedIn. We had this parallel path that began with David’s idea and he iterated on the design and he also was trying to build a team of people that could take this design and bring it into reality.

It went close to a few years or more. He reached out to me and Miguel. JC had been onboard with David for a while before that. Something happened. A pearl forms with that first grain of sand in the oyster. We were that grain of sand and then we started adding people to the team. The whole idea began to gain inertia and gather momentum. We formed this new company from the original company David had and named it Exodus Space Corporation. We are aggressively pursuing the design and development of what we consider the next great innovative breakthrough in Earth to orbit transportation.

You’re talking about a vehicle. Are you saying a spaceship? What exactly do you mean by vehicle?

We mean a space plane in particular. I’m going to let Miguel describe to you some of the specifics about this wonderful machine.

This vehicle is a space plane that goes to space from a typical airport that has the capabilities to accommodate a vehicle like this. This vehicle takes off from the runway like an aircraft at a certain altitude and speed. It separates into two sections. The first section, the section that powers the two sections together, comes back down and lands on the runway. The second portion, the orbiter, it goes all the way to space. It performs its operations up in space and it comes back and lands on the runway. They come back and land on the runway, both sections do, which makes the entire vehicle fully reusable. We don’t dispose of anything. The only thing that we do from flight after flight is refilling the fuel like a typical aircraft.

First of all, it brings to mind what they do at SpaceX because a lot of people are familiar with that of how we’re trying to not have to keep rebuilding everything from scratch, which I know is the thing. I had Naveen Jain on my show. I don’t know if he’s still going to mine the moon for minerals, his organization. To what end are you guys building these ships? Are we first exploring? Are we going to take a trip to the moon? Who’s the person that you’re trying to send into space and for what purpose?

We want to take this in baby steps and we wanted to focus on what’s out there already. We don’t necessarily want to focus on exploration vehicles. We want to focus on building a vehicle that’s going to make space commonplace, especially Low Earth Orbit. We’ve been going there for a long time. We want to first address the current demands and then help transform space into the big industry that it’s going to be. The way we want to do this is initially by building a small unmanned space plane that carries satellites to space and also in space. With the other advancements in technology, our vehicle will be able to carry other space vehicles that would serve as satellites that are up there in space.

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Space Tourism: What’s attractive on being part of mission operations is that sense that you’re doing something cool, important, and that you’re part of a team of people that really gets along well and works as a unit.

 

In addition, as time progresses, we’d be able to collect space debris that’s becoming a big problem. Eventually, we will develop a much larger vehicle that would be able to carry twenty passengers to space and we would use that vehicle for orbital space tourism and also crew and cargo transport for private and government services. That’s our long-term goal. The long-term goal is to making space travel affordable, comfortable and safe. I’ll pass it on to Michael to give us the long vision that we have.

When I first became acquainted with the design of this vehicle way back when I was first reached out to by Mr. Luther, the thing that struck me was the revolutionary possibilities that this particular design offered. We’ve been launching into space the same way since the 1950s or 1960s on corny vertical rockets. This vehicle points the way to what the next evolutionary step will be. To put it succinctly, what we want to do is capture the market for transportation from anywhere on Earth into Lower Earth Orbit, starting in about several years from now. We want to be the DC-3 of space flight. You may be familiar with the old DC-3. It became the big workhorse for both cargo and people transportation by air during that point in the evolution of aviation where we went from more rickety little biplanes to a little sleeker thing that looks more familiar to us now. We want to be that go-to vehicle that becomes the DC-3 of space flight in the not too distant future.

How does this work in terms of fuel and all that? I’m trying to think of my limited knowledge I have of outer space. I remember the points of low grunge and things where you could set stuff up with gravity, not pulling it certain ways. Are you setting up ways to refuel along the way? Do you have enough to get there? How does that work?

As far as fuel goes, so far the initial transport from the surface of the Earth to Low Earth Orbit, we’re going to use air-breathing propulsion as much as possible. We’re going to use your standard two-rotor engine as well as 1970s technology round jet engines all the way up to as high as we can go utilize the air as much as possible to keep the weight low. Eventually from that point on, once we’re up in the upper atmosphere we’ll start using rocket fuel and we won’t be using the cryogenic systems, the cold propulsion systems that other companies use. Those can be powerful but also heavy. We’ll use simpler propulsion system. With the help of partners in the industry who are developing orbital refueling stations, we will be able to refuel as soon as you reach your Lower Earth Orbit. From that point on, we’ll be able to travel to as far as the highest geosynchronous orbit. We’d be able to do multiple operations of various durations while we are in orbit. It’s possible that in the long term we could potentially be at the Lunar Transporter as well. It’s not a question. It depends on how lucky we are.

How far are you getting from that far out into space? For people who don’t know the difference between in-Earth orbit to the moon. How far between are you going to be initially going?

Low Earth Orbit starts at about 200 nautical miles. We’re not going too far. Initially, we’re going up to as high as the International Space Station and then we’ll go out to geosynchronous orbit, which is the altitude at which military satellites operate. From then on, going to the moon is a big undertaking.

The points of Lagrange, they’re halfway between here and the moon? You won’t be getting that far then.

Most of the things you fear are not going to happen. Click To Tweet

Not initially.

I’m trying to picture this in my mind. How much is this going to cost? Say I want to take a tour up there. Is this going to be just for the billionaires of the world initially? Who gets to do this?

That’s one of the things that we feel we’re bringing to the table and to the industry is our ability to reduce all of the associated costs with transport for the different services that are developing. Our plan will not be just for billionaires. That’s one of the gaps that we see right now. When you look at the surveys that are done, there are a high percentage of respondents that would say, “If I was able, I would take the ride. I would go to space.” We’re trying to enable that. We’re an enabler based on the reduction of cost and also safety and the experience that you would want as a nonmilitary or crew member to go into space. That’s part of our horizontal takeoff and landing. It’s also a part of how we’re developing this vehicle to be so lightweight and to decrease the amount of fuel that we need so that we can reduce the cost per head. Not only that but the cost per pound in our payload.

Is this an up and back trip? You’re not landing anywhere. You’re going out. You’re taking a trip to have this experience and then landing. How long does that take?

The one thing that we differentiate on what you might currently see with some of the space tourism offered is those are a short matter of seconds’ experiences. You’re up and then you’re down. What we’re planning is for you to be able to spend a day in space traveling around. That’s what our space plane enables is that we can take you on a tour, maybe a 24-hour tour. The other developing markets that are out there are things like space hotels. We want to be your ride. We want to enable those services. There are a lot of services that are being developed and markets that are developing. What we’re well aware of is unless we allow this to become more efficient access to space. We’re never going to be able to build the population of who can take part in these great discoveries and developments in space. That’s what we want to accomplish as well as opening up space to the broader population.

We have Virgin Orbit or Virgin Galactic who is offering to take people to Lower Earth Orbit for $150,000. For that much, all you get is eleven minutes in sub-orbit. From sub-orbit, you barely get to see the curvature of the Earth. You’re pretty high up, but you’re not that high up. With Blue Origin, for $100,000 you get to go up vertically under New Shepard vehicle. You get to be in orbit, you get to be weightless in microgravity for about eight minutes. You go about the same height as the Virgin Orbit’s vehicle the White Knight Two.

That’s going to be fascinating to do the weightlessness training. Do you make people go through training before they go? Are they going to have to do a certain amount of training like you would if you had to jump out of an airplane? There’s safety and all that. Is it like an airplane where she stands in the front and tells you to buckle your seatbelt and off you go?

We have discussed this too much, but we’re thinking that part of the service would include some preliminary training. The training wouldn’t be as intense as it is right now for somebody that wants to go to the International Space Station on a Russian rocket, on a Soyuz rocket. Our service will be completely different and compared to the other two companies, we will be able to go all the way to orbit to be able to get a good view of the entire planet Earth. We could have multiple services like fly around the planet for a day or we take somebody to a space hotel for a week or two. We want to be the enablers of new markets in space.

Who’s building these space hotels?

For sure Bigelow Aerospace, a company based in Las Vegas, Nevada is building space hotels. They already have a couple of inflatable modules attached to the International Space Station. They already have up there sections of space stations up there in space. There are other companies building space stations that could also be purposed for hotels. They’re focusing on research facilities in space. I have a feeling that they would be open to doing space hotels too. Those companies are Axiom Space out of Houston, the other one is Orion Span that’s building space stations.

None of this has got to be cheap. How do you create revenue? This costs a lot of money. If I’m thinking of how people have had problems with getting rockets to not blow up and things in the past, you’ve got to keep testing and retesting. What if you have to start over again and all the costs involved? It’s going to be a while before people are paying to take these trips. How do you pay for it in the meantime?

The strategy that we’re deploying is a multistage strategy of revenue streams for that reason. Even though the long-term vision is the ten to the twelve-year full-scale vehicle, along the way there are definitely opportunities for us to create revenue streams. The initial phase of development of the prototype vehicle, which is planned for a few years from now, will require the development of certain components. Particularly, our hypersonic engine will have a market of its own. Part of the plan for us to help contribute to the need for costs that we have in this process is to have along the way revenue streams.

Even the initial hypersonic ramjet engine that we’re in the planning phase and design phase, we would be able to sell those to other companies who need those for purposes. There are other potential customers that have approached us as well. The prototype vehicle, which is the quarter scale vehicle, it’s going to be unmanned. All of the services that are needed to be done that are developing mass satellite deployment, in-orbit satellite servicing, and space debris collection, all of those different things. We can create revenue streams within the next few years using the prototype vehicle.

This is not your typical let’s sit around the table, let’s think of a company idea thing. When Terra was telling me about this I’m like, “He’s doing what?” because this is unique. I like to have a little background. Let’s start with Miguel since I know you best. What is the background that got you into this? It’s a unique direction to head.

Space exploration and building things that go to space have been my passion since I can remember, I think from the beginning. I was born and raised in Peru and I remember dreaming about building things that go to space. To follow that passion, we came to the United States to study engineering and do all these awesome things. I’m the technical guy out of the three and I’ve been doing engineering and managing teams of engineers my entire career basically. I was at a company called Belkin. Belkin is an engineering consulting company that does engineering work for other companies. Through Belkin I was managing a team of engineers, doing some engineering work for the United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket, as well as the Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser spacecraft, which is a winged spacecraft. I was at Lockheed Martin, one of the big aerospace companies in the world. I worked on the Iranian program, which is their capsule for the space exploration. I also worked on their satellites for commercial and military purposes. I worked at SpaceX building ground systems at their facility in Texas for the Falcon 9 rocket and their Falcon Heavy rocket. I worked at other companies as well.

Space is where the huge market is. It is where we are really going to discover things and grow. Click To Tweet

Weren’t you at NASA? Were you part of the NASA Space Shuttle Rocket Booster Processing?

Through Honeywell when I was in Arizona, I did some work for the International Space Station as well as the Space Shuttle and the Joint Strike Fighter military aircraft.

Basically, anything that’s a name in air travel and space, you’ve done it. For such a young guy, that’s pretty impressive. I’m curious, JC, for your background.

I’m a finance guy, however like Miguel I grew up fascinated by space and speed and mechanical operations. Incidentally, I started my college career as an engineering major and then decided to switch and graduate with a business degree. I went to become an executive team member at Arthur Andersen. I did a lot of M&A type transaction-related work for many years there and ended up doing a startup company with a friend of mine from the business school. We were one of the first platforms as a service company where we’re doing collaborative, many permission-based emerging technologies.

Long and short, I had an affinity for being on the front end or frontiering new technologies, new developments. That’s where I enjoy living and working. Years ago, I decided to leave and look into where the next huge market is where we’re going to discover things and grow and spaces. It was where I decided that the big place, the big discoveries. It’s the uncovered area. I spent time and finally was able to identify David Luther and contacted him. That’s been about some time ago. I spent time doing some coaching and advisory around planning for building the company and financial related planning. The rest is history. We got together and three of us formed about a few months ago. We were all pretty much primed for where we wanted to go. It wasn’t like we had to teach each other our discipline areas to complement each other. We naturally fit. That’s my background.

Michael, you’re the Senior Technical Advisor, which means you do what?

By way of background, I have to say that I’m a child of the space age. I was born more or less the same time the space age was. I was five years old when Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom first took their rides to space. I was an early teen when we walked on the moon. The space thing grabbed me from the cradle basically. My mother says I’m a freak of nature in as much as I never had to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I wanted to be in the space business. That’s what I went for. I got my education in aerospace engineering. I was hired by Rockwell Space Division right out of college to move to Los Angeles from the East Coast then work on the shuttle program. I was part of the engineering team that brought the first space shuttle for the Launchpad in the early ‘80s.

Right about the middle of the ‘80s, my company won the contract to do all human space flight operations of NASA Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston. I jumped on that opportunity and moved to Houston right then and there. I also harbored an ambition to be an astronaut. I thought being close to where the astronauts live was a good idea. I moved to Houston and basically, it was a part of what was called the Mission Operations Directorate, later renamed to Flight Operations. It was the organization at NASA JSC that did all human space flight mission planning, training and flight execution from mission control for the entire shuttle program and the entire assembly and operational phase of the International Space Station. That was what I did for many years before joining this outfit and deciding it was time to help evolve things to the next level.

TTL 298 | Space Tourism
Space Tourism: The long term goal is to make space travel affordable, comfortable and safe.

 

You guys have quite an impressive background. I was looking forward to talking to you guys. I have one question for each of you. I’m going to hit Miguel first, the same question. Best movie for space? Are you a 2001 Space Odyssey guy, The Martian guy, Armageddon? Give me your number one for anybody interested in space.

For me, it would be October Sky.

How about JC?

I’m going to have to do a combo. I’m going to have to say Apollo 13 is one of my all-time favorites, but I also like the undetermined, the Interstellar approach to what we don’t know. I like that one as well.

They’re all good. Michael?

I’m going to have to color outside the lines a little bit here. Picking one is a mission impossible for me. I’ll give you two. The first one would have to be The Martian. The reason I chose The Martian is that I thought that was about as realistic and close to capturing the reality of what a mission operation feel like and the way it would work in a situation like that. It wasn’t incredible like some of the others are. I almost thought it was a good NASA public relations film for human space flight. I loved it for that reason. I also have to say almost any of the Star Trek movies.

For me, growing up with Star Trek, it was that spirit of exploration and the cohesiveness of that team that I saw in that show and in those movies that I was attracted to. I lived in parallel the same feeling with being part of mission operations is that sense that you’re doing something cool, something important. You’re part of a team of people that gets along well, works as a unit and I’ll even go out in the limb and say we loved each other and we loved what we did. That feeling of being part of that team was awesome. The Star Trek movies capture that as good as or better than anybody else.

Unless we have efficient access to space, we can't build the population who'll take part in the great discoveries and developments in space. Click To Tweet

You guys are inspirational, fascinating things you’re doing. I’ll let Miguel share your website or how they could reach you. I’m sure a lot of people have a lot of questions.

Our website is www.ExodusSpaceCorp.com and we try to keep it up to date. We added our bios, we’ll be making some more updates. On the website, there’s a way to be added to our updates list. You can also find us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. I believe we also have a YouTube account where we will be putting out some YouTube videos of our progress. We’re in the process of getting Instagram. We’re definitely trying to get the word out.

You’ve gotten the word out. I see you’ve got ten interested customers already or has that gone up since the last time? You have people lined up.

We have customers lining up. We have close to ten customers for the hypersonic grounded engine, customers for the services the prototype vehicles, small scale version provide, and also for the services the large vehicle provides. We’re looking pretty strong and we also have some very well-known board members. We have Scott Hartwig as one of the board members. He is the ex-CEO of United Space Alliance. That is the company that was responsible for the special operations. He will be very pivotal to our growth. He will help us with all the lessons learned in space shuttle operations. How could we have operated the space shuttle cheaper, better, faster? He brings a lot of knowledge.

In addition, we have Jose Hernandez who was a shuttle astronaut back in 2009. He brings a lot of background as a mission specialist on the shuttle, and also as a material scientist himself. After the Columbia accident happened, he was one of the people responsible for figuring out how the accident happened. He’ll help us with all the background that we need to make our vehicle robust.

You have something unique here and I can’t wait to watch your success. Thank you so much for being on the show. I enjoyed it.

Thank you so much for having us. It was great fun.

It sure was, anytime.

Thank you so much.

You’re welcome.

I want to thank, Kim, Miguel, JC and Michael. It was such a big show. It was exciting. You can learn more about Cracking The Curiosity Code and the Curiosity Code Index at CuriosityCode.com. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Kim Perell

TTL 298 | Space Tourism

Kim Perell is an entrepreneur, executive and angel investor with two decades of experience serving as a CEO and President in the marketing technology sector, building high-performing teams, overseeing complex mergers, acquisitions and integrations, and scaling global operations. Kim is currently the CEO of Amobee, a leading marketing technology company, overseeing over 1000 employees across 25 global offices. Amobee is a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, Singtel, with over 700 million mobile subscribers globally. Kim has been named one of AdAge’s Marketing Technology Trailblazers, Business Insider’s Most Powerful Women in Mobile, and is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

 

About Miguel Ayala

TTL 298 | Space TourismMiguel has more than 17 years of experience in engineering and management of multidisciplinary engineering teams developing aircraft, launch vehicles, spacecraft, and associated ground support equipment.  Miguel is passionate about contributing to groundbreaking innovations in space exploration and aerospace transportation.  With the intent of becoming an effective well-rounded leader, he has devoted his entire career to gain a broad background in engineering and leadership, encompassing: small startups and large corporations; design, analysis, test and manufacturing; propulsion, structures, mechanisms, and thermal fluid systems; technical leadership; project and people management.  Previous programs include SNC Dream Chaser spacecraft and ULA Vulcan rocket at Belcan, Orion spacecraft and A2100 satellites at Lockheed Martin, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets at SpaceX, aircraft GNC at L3 Technologies, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 aircraft engines and ISS habitat module at Honeywell, and NASA Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster processing at Thiokol Propulsion (Northrop Grumman).  Miguel holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA.  He also holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering from Arizona State University.

 

About Jon David “JC” Cunningham

TTL 298 | Space TourismJon (“JC”) is a seasoned chief executive and management/financial consultant with over 25 years of hands-on experience in launching new businesses, building organizational infrastructure, diversifying revenue lines and growing overall enterprise value for founders, shareholders, and employees.  He has deep knowledge and skills in the areas of finance and accounting, strategic capitalization, operations, and personnel management, business and financial strategy development, entity structure design, deal structure creation, and M&A activities. He is a former CFO/COO of Dairy.com, a successful B2B/SaaS company, and a former Arthur Andersen LLP executive. JC believes in disrupting the status quo for the greater good and engaging in missions committed to bringing needed change within challenging environments.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Baylor University.

About Michael Genest

TTL 298 | Space TourismMichael is a 37-year veteran of NASA’s human spaceflight program.  Immediately after graduating from college Michael began his career at Rockwell International Space Division in Los Angeles as a member of the Space Shuttle mission analysis and integration team.  He provided engineering support to the first several Space Shuttle missions from 1981 through 1985 and then transferred to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas as a member of the Flight Operations Directorate, the heart of NASA’s human spaceflight operations team.  For the next 30 years, he held positions of increasing technical and management responsibility within both Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) programs that encompassed the entire life of the Shuttle program, the assembly of the ISS, and its transition to full operational capability as an orbiting laboratory.  Michael earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Space Science from the University of Houston.

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