For the inaugural episode of the Ground Control Checking In podcast, host Simon Halpern, our Chief Operating Officer, sat down with Co-Founder and CEO of Kubos, Tyler Browder. Tyler shared some of his personal story leading up to Co-Founding the company, the current state and future of the software for space industry, and how Kubos is well-positioned for growth as the industry moves forward.
University of Dad: Early Lessons in Entrepreneurship
With his father being an entrepreneur, Tyler grew up surrounded by business, “business was an underlying hum in our world,” Tyler said. Though for Tyler, entrepreneurship did not start manifesting itself until he was in college, with help and a nudge from his father.
While attending the University of North Texas in his hometown of Denton, Texas, Tyler was struggling in school and working part-time at an auto oil change business. His father took notice and stepped in to enroll him in what Tyler described as the ‘University of Dad.’ “He had a list of 99 business books to read- everything from how to open a credit card, to how to read financial statements,” Tyler said. That experience led Tyler to purchase real estate and rent out houses for income when he was 19. “It helped me try new things and not be afraid of what I don’t know,” Tyler said.
Tyler’s Road to the Space Industry
After a detour to Nashville where he worked as an audio engineer for country music artists (Tyler is a lifelong musician and nowadays mostly makes electronic music, “bloops and beeps” as he says on the episode), Tyler’s entrepreneur genes kicked back in, and he started to become interested in the software industry for space. With no background in software or the space industry, Tyler began attending industry conferences to learn more and meet people. The experience he had from ‘University of Dad’ and the beginner’s mindset he developed came in beneficial in those early days of Kubos. “It took me a year to understand what a satellite was. I was very insecure about my lack of knowledge of satellites,” Tyler said, adding “by meeting people and asking a lot of questions, I learned a whole lot and made friends in the industry.” It was while attending conferences where Tyler met Simon, who would become Kubos’ Chief Operating Officer.
The Future of Software for the Space Industry and Opportunity for Kubos
It is an exciting time to be in the space industry and there is a new wave of companies leveraging the cloud infrastructure for space. “The market is starting to be open and accepting of using cloud to run operations, store their data, and to build these platforms off of. That is a big shift. While the rest of the world went through this shift already, space is now open to it,” Tyler said.
In the beginning of the space industry, it was hardware-focused. That legacy is a reason why the industry got expensive and had a low-risk tolerance profile that led to slow innovation. With software, the space industry is ready for the next big evolution. “Once you deploy a satellite to space, you are stuck with it. You are stuck with that hardware sensor and you have to buy a whole new one if you want something different. Except you are not stuck with the software. There are ways we can change the software on spacecraft to safely change the characteristics or the algorithms and behavior of the spacecraft. That is where the next evolution is going to come from. Satellites will just become servers in space and we are part of that change and acceleration of software in space technology. I believe Kubos is well positioned not just to be a part of that, but to lead and push the envelope. It’s a pretty exciting time to be in software in space.” Tyler said.
Simon closed out the podcast interview with with a few lightning round questions for Tyler:
Google Meet or Zoom?
Would you rather pilot a plane or operate a drone?
Tyler: Operate a drone, we’ll go with the safer option!
Your favorite number in the rocket launch countdown sequence?
Favorite Space Movie or TV Show?
Tyler: For All Mankind on Apple TV+
Would you rather be stuck in a spaceship with Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos?
Tyler: (laughs), I’ll go with Jeff