Start-up businesses looking to acquire private equity (PE) investment usually need to have a great plan or a unique selling point of note about them. San Francisco headquartered Planet Labs, still a start-up despite being well known and having been around since 2010, have as unique as selling point as any: they’re focusing on providing technology and products for use beyond Earth.
Indeed, they have already launched numerous products and seen their technology used in the International Space Station and even have dozens of satellites in orbit around the Earth, which are used for various purposes.
The feel-good story of Planet Labs, who have raised a total of $65million in PE funding and already have secured enough value through commercial contracts to be able to pay that back and still have cash flow running through the business, was covered by The New York Times this past week.
Planet Labs’ latest project is to launch approximately another 100 satellites into orbit and produce daily “photo mosaics” of Earth. While Google Maps and Google Earth probably have nothing to worry about just yet, the idea of seeing the changing Earth on a day to day basis is an intriguing one.
Planet Labs and other similar businesses are going to continue to be attractive for PE investors in coming years. They are not pretending to be, nor do they want to be, NASA or Boeing, but instead are focused on delivering cost effective products and technology to companies and groups that could benefit from having a presence in space. Most of their existing products are made up of components not specifically designed for use in space, using things like smartphone and laptop batteries for power, for example.
Although a flaw in Planet Labs’ openness is the likelihood of other companies replicating what they do, there is sure to be such a demand in the PE markets and wider business world for such initiatives that the risk remains very low.