PIERRE DAMIEN VAUJOUR, ALUMNUS AND FOUNDER OF LOFT ORBITAL
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Pierre Damien Vaujour graduated from ISAE-SUPAERO in 2008. Passionate about space, he looks back on his career and the founding of his company Loft Orbital.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY?
My name is Pierre Damien Vaujour and I am a graduate of ISAE-SUPAERO (class of 2008). I have always been interested in space, which is why I did my training at this Institute. I first worked in the European and American space agencies (ESA and NASA). When I was at NASA, I had a lot of friends who were in Silicon Valley start-ups, which made me want to join a start-up like everyone else.
In 2010, there were not many space-related startups and since 2012, many have been created. It’s a bit like the new movement called "NewSpace". I then joined a 6-person start-up called SPIRE, it was quite small. I joined before their Series A funding and stayed for 3 years. During these three years, the company grew from 6 to 120 employees. We used to produce inexpensive, high-performance CubeSats.
Four years ago, I decided to create Loft Orbital, with the objective of reusing standard satellites in manufacturing lines. For the first time in history, there were companies manufacturing satellites on a production line. Instead of doing them one by one, they were done by the hundreds!
We asked ourselves: couldn’t we take a satellite from a manufacturing line without modifying it and develop all the interface technologies that allow us to do plug and play? To achieve this, we need to be able to create an interface that allows us to keep the satellite without modifying it and then to add plug and play instruments. We thus developed - in-house - a set of embedded software technologies, flight software, to communicate with our own hardware.
The idea is to give the customer a clear online interface, where they can control their instrument directly without having to know anything about space. Enabling people who know absolutely nothing about space to deploy and use instruments in space.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG PERSON WHO WANTS TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
You have to make sure that you are doing it for a good reason and that it is worth it: start with an ambitious project. Sometimes it’s harder to do something small than to do something big. The advantage of an ambitious project is that we need capital to make it work. It’s easier to raise capital, to have people following you on big projects, rather than on a small project where people think "why should I invest if it’s so small? I’m going to take risks but there may not be a return! ".
My message would be: Go for it! Don’t be afraid of failure, if you are young and you start something you will certainly fail but it doesn’t matter, try again until you succeed.