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From Elon Musk to Exit of His Own

November 19, 2021 |  

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About this episode

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Ben Kellie got his start in the aerospace industry, helping Elon Musk figure out how to get his rockets to land on a floating barge without blowing up.

In 2015, Kellie left SpaceX to start The Launch Company, where they supply hardware parts and consulting to a growing list of new aerospace companies like SpaceX. Less than five years after starting, Kellie was approached by Voyager Space, a private equity-backed group rolling up new space companies. Kellie sold a majority stake in The Launch Company but held on to a sizeable chunk giving Kellie financial security for his young family and a significant upside in the next chapter of The Launch Company’s development.

Strap on your harness because you’re going to learn a ton in this episode, including:

  • What Elon Musk is like to work for.
  • How to bootstrap a hardware company without giving up equity.
  • How to keep your Intellectual Property when doing consulting.
  • The fine line between “crappy and scrappy”.
  • How to structure your role as a CEO after an investor puts money into your company.
  • The difficultly of separating your ego from what your company needs to reach the next level.

About Our Guest

Ben Kellie is Founder and CEO of The Launch Company, an aerospace hardware and services company based in Anchorage, Alaska that helps both emerging and established New Space companies get to orbit faster, cheaper, and more reliably. Launch Co. has bootstrapped hardware to orbit, worked launches on all three coasts, and was recently acquired by Voyager Space Holdings.

Prior to starting Launch Co., he worked for SpaceX in Recovery where he led the field development and commission of “Just Read the Instructions” and “Of Course I Still Love You,” the SpaceX Landing Barges for the east and west coasts. He served as “Deck Boss” during the first missions and was first on – and last off – the barge during landing operations.

Kellie graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks cum laude with a BS in Mechanical Engineering where he was active in the Spacegrant program helping build and launch a suborbital rocket flight as well as conducting CubeSat research on the Vomit Comet. He also has a MS in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on nano-fluidics, energy conversion, and graphene synthesis from the Ohio State University. He lives in Anchorage with his growing family and when not exploring the outdoors, likes to play music, write stories, and go on adventures.

 

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