Tyler James Pierce of Turion Space.
Tell us about yourself?
Aerospace engineer since I was 18, always wanted to work on things that fly. Took the jack of all trades approach technically, which resulted in a huge range of experiences at companies like SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, consulting for NASA, building robots.
My family had lots of entrepreneurs so once I felt like I had the technical skillset I did an MBA to figure out the business side of the world.
I’ve always had the mindset that I can do anything, which is really helpful when you are trying to start a company and you need to do a lot of new things you’ve never done before.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
All employees at a startup’s titles and responsibilities are fluid, and every time the company doubles in size your job completely changes and you get bad at your job again and need to relearn it or step aside to a different role.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
Everything is grey area, nothing is easy, but everything can be fun and exciting with the right mindset. Every aspect of the world is connected, you can’t just be an engineer, or a sales person, you need to excel at everything you do or know exactly who to ask to help you. Fake it till you make it is universal and the norm.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Organization is one of the most important things, assume everything you do will need to be found by 100 people, so take the time to organize things in a clear and concise manner for a wide audience.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
Yes, this is very much true. There seems to be no divide between the two, you are always kind of working, it’s very hard to not think about your company, even on vacation.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
CEO and I were both at SpaceX and used a lot of the techniques, organizational strategy, and operational strategy to guide us. The founders all read a ton of Hard Science Fiction novels. My favorites are Hyperion, End of Eternity.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
We don’t need our products to be the best from the start, we just want them to work and to learn as much as we can from each one. We focus on making our feedback loops as short as possible.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Talk to as many people as you can. Talking to customers is the most important thing you can do as a founder. Don’t go into meetings trying to sell them, go into the meetings just trying to learn what they need.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?
The talent pool for aerospace engineering is concentrated in California. I am a beach bum at heart. The mindset of people that live here aligns well with the startup style.
What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?
Complex regulations specific to only this state. High cost of living.
We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?
We pay ourselves right around what we pay all employees (some employees make more than us). If we start to struggle with finances ourselves, it means our employees are struggling as well. We try to be frugal with all business expenses so we can pay people more.
It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?
We are doing something unique, there might be some competition for talent, but when our mission resonates with people, it doesn’t really seem competitive.
Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?
No plans on moving anything to another state. Our HQ will always be in CA, maybe in a few years if we are building 100s of satellites we would build them nearby like Las Vegas.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
Hopefully much of the same sort of style we have now where everyone can work on what they want, and we have a balance between R&D and core product development.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
Check out our website, follow us on linkedin, we aren’t that vocal at this stage in terms of PR, we would rather focus on building product and talking to customers. We are always hiring.
Follow Turion Space on Twitter or Linkedin.