University of Michigan Space Entrepeneurship Talk

I probably should’ve mentioned this last month, but I had a chance to give a talk on space entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan this last Friday. Special thanks goes out to the UofM SEDS chapter, particularly Emmanuel, Harvey, and Tristan, and the others for taking care of all the travel and other arrangements. The talk was a lot of fun, and we had 85 (!) people attend. I got to share my experiences working for four different entrepreneurial firms over the past ten years, including working for the “Will it Blend” guy fresh out of college, helping my good friend Dave Beuhler with his Thurber Space Systems startup, my several years as a cofounder and propulsion engineer at Masten, and my recent jump into running Altius Space Machines. I’m still a novice at public speaking, but I think the audience particularly enjoyed my retelling of the 2009 NGLLC story. Rocket movies always help make things more interesting.

All told a good event, and a good chance to do some networking as well. I had a chance to meet with a few of the professors there (Dr Cutler, who is focused on nanosat projects like the Radio Aurora Explorer, and Dr Zurbuchen who runs their center for entrepreneurship), as well as talking with some student teams involved in pretty interesting projects.

A big personal lesson I learned for public speaking was that it’s easier to use past bad experiences to make a point if you give some anonymity. I tried to make a point that I thought would be useful to the students by illustrating a bad situation from a while back, but found that since I had mentioned who it was, I ended up wanting to sugarcoat things. Basically, if you really actually need to point out someone else’s past mistakes, it’s better to do so in a way least likely to be identifiable with the person who made the mistake. On the other hand, when people did stuff well, you probably should directly give them credit. Oh well, lessons learned.

Thanks again Emmanuel and team for a well-executed event!