At a time when the country’s startup ecosystem is experiencing a prolonged funding winter, space technology has gradually emerged from the shadows to become a bright spot. Bengaluru-based satellite developer GalaxEye has become the first space technology company to complete a $3.5 million seed funding round in the shortest possible time, the company said on Friday.
Speaking exclusively to Business Today, founder and CEO Suyash Singh said the success of the funding round was an endorsement of the emerging potential of the country’s vibrant space technology ecosystem.
“In terms of technology, the cost of launching rockets and building satellites is coming down. When it comes to politics, the government, ISRO and IN-SPACe have worked together to provide a tremendous boost to the space sector. Also, while the sector was previously largely perceived as a government domain, the emergence of commercial use cases such as data has made investors realize the potential of space technology,” Singh said.
He further reported that the fundraising would enable GalaxEye to recruit top-tier talent and accelerate the launch of the world’s first multi-sensor satellite for Earth observation. This will also mark the beginning of the commercialization of the company’s services, with clients spread across geographies in the US, Europe and Africa.
“A good space start-up with a strong history will have no difficulty obtaining funding, as we have reached a point where investors are willing to listen to them”, president of IN-SPACe, the nodal agency for authorizing, promoting and regulating private players in the space sector, Dr. Pawan Goenka recently told BT.
In CY2022, the top Indian space tech startups managed to raise more than $110 million in funding, according to data compiled by IN-SPACe and BT.
Aiming to become a world leader in multi-sensor imaging
GalaxEye has also announced the availability of the company’s flagship product offering, which includes multi-sensor imaging via modern satellites. In-house developed data fusion technology will bring unparalleled information and data from space, enabling satellite constellations to perform all-weather imaging without the atmospheric interference typical of today’s single-sensor satellites. The technology enables the production of extremely high resolution images via a small constellation of satellites which, once fully operational, will provide global coverage in less than 12 hours.
The coming year is especially crucial for the company as it aims to reach space with its satellite to become a world leader in multi-sensor imaging.
“We will be seeking an additional round of funding in the range of $15-25 million in 2023 to add more satellites to our constellation as our business grows,” Singh reported.
Led by deep tech venture capital fund Special Invest, this rise is notable for the segment given the amount of funding and the speed with which the round closed. One of the reasons behind the growing interest in Indian space technology startups is the availability of a global market for space technology products.
“If you take Swiggy or Dunzo, the opportunity is only in India, but if you look at space technology, it’s a global opportunity. India is among the few nations that have been at the forefront of space technology. Therefore, the government has realized the need to boost the private space together with ISRO to capture more of this market,” said Speciale Invest Managing Partner Vishesh Rajaram.
The new round also saw participation from other investors including Artha India Ventures, Veda VC, Anicut Capital, Upsparks and a consortium of entrepreneurs including Zerodha founder and CEO Nithin Kamath, EaseMyTrip founder and CEO Prashant Pitti , Tracxn founder and CEO, Abhishek Goyal and partner in the heavenly capital, Ganapathy Subramaniam.
Founded in 2020, GalaxEye’s founders grew out of Avishkar Hyperloop, a team of scientists brought together through a global competition hosted by aerospace manufacturer and Elon Musk’s space transportation services company SpaceX. The team, which is now also funded by Indian Railways, was the only Asian entry represented in the final of the 2019 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition and was also part of the FalconX 2022 immersion program, based in Silicon Valley, California.