3… 2… 1… Blast Off!
Every fortnight we’ll be speaking with a different Scottish Start Up, covering the trials and tribulations of starting a new business.
We spoke with Founder Tom Walkinshaw, who gave us an insight into his company, his ambitions and the freewheeling life of an entrepreneur.
Tell us a bit about Alba Orbital
Alba Orbital builds and launches commercial satellites. We take customers ashes to Space, more specifically Earth Orbit on Commercial launch vehicles (rockets).
We take a symbolic portion of cremated remains to Low Earth Orbit and sell this as a memorial product into the funeral industry. This is both novel and innovative to the European Marketplace.
Where did the idea come from?
I believe it is inherently important to develop a Space based economy. Scotland needs to be at the forefront of this and it is currently a backwater.
It doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar for some reason. We can’t grow an economy cutting each other’s hair.
We were aware of an American company carrying out this service and no-one in Europe seemed to be. We saw the potential and started planning.
What did you do before starting Alba Orbital?
I was a Project Manager for Hewlett Packard shipping PCs to secret government sites. I graduated University a couple of years ago and have had a couple of Marketing roles to date.
What does the future hold?
We are working through regulations regarding the Outer Space Act which we are hoping to get exemptions from. We are meeting cabinet ministers in a couple of weeks. Beyond that we hope to announce customer pricing.
What are your top tips for budding entrepreneurs?
Work on big problems. Technology enables progress, so game-changing tech such as 3D printers, robotics, CubeSats are all fields which are growing incredibly rapidly.
Never, ever give up. Starting a company is like staring into the abyss and chewing glass. You have to eat a lot of glass to be successful.
What is your definition of success?
For Alba Orbital initial success will be reaching Earth Orbit and building Scotland’s First ever commercial Satellite. Beyond that we want to prove our business is viable for the long term. Too huge challenges but we also think really import not just for Alba, but for Scotland in general to be a player in the commercialisation of Space.
It has never been done before and that is really exciting!