SpaceX, Blue Origin & Planet: The Race for Space

Planet CEO Will Marshall about Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos & how he has built the world’s largest fleet of mini-satellites

Serial founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long outgrown any ideas of anchoring his visions on earth.

With SpaceX and NASA, the next notch on his achievement scale has been conceived. For the first time in history a private company successfully sent two US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). While NASA abandoned its Shuttle program 9 years ago and, like Europe, had to rely on Russian Sojus rockets, the stars of space-gazing entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and many more have risen.

Among them: Will Marshall. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Planet, which has built the largest fleet of mini-satellites the world has ever seen. Each one is just the seize of a wine bottle (12 inches by 4 inches), but covers an image of more than 2 million square kilometers per day. So that's more than the area of Germany.

He works closely with Elon Musk and his satellite images serve governments, researchers and agriculture. His startup Planet is operating out of Berlin and San Francisco where he has met with Bits & Pretzels' Britta Weddeling for a conversation about his vision to index the world like Google has indexed the internet to make it and made it searchable.  

And, like always, we discussed what other entrepreneurs can learn from Will’s experiences.

The biggest thing that distinguishes successful entrepreneurs and unsuccessful ones is not the idea. It's not the timing. It's not the money. It's whether or not they stick to their vision.

Planets little satellites have big advantages from an economic perspective: The "doves" are cheap enough so the startup can risk sending them into space before they are perfected, and continuously update the satellite flock. This strategy can drastically reduce cost and enables Planet to experiment, test and iterate faster from one prototype to the next which is a process that normally takes years.

Production: Regina Körner, Migo Fecke (professional-podcasts.com); Hubert Honold