Aaron Burnett | Democratizing Access To Space Investing through Crowdfunding
Smart Business Revolution

Aaron Burnett is the Founder and CEO of Spaced Ventures, the world’s largest community of space investors. Spaced Ventures provides early-stage, pre-seed, and seed capital for space companies. It also provides public access to curated private space investments for both accredited and non-accredited investors.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by Aaron Burnett, the Founder and CEO of Spaced Ventures, to talk about investing in the space industry. They also discuss the cost of access to space, the benefits of space exploration, and how Spaced Ventures’ business model works.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • How a SpaceX mission impacted Aaron Burnett’s career
  • Aaron talks about why he started Spaced Ventures
  • Funding for his company and how they were impacted by the pandemic
  • Aaron’s thoughts on the future of equity crowdfunding for the space industry
  • How Spaced Ventures decides which companies to work with
  • Pitching your business to investors and other companies
  • The benefits of space exploration
  • Success stories from Spaced Ventures’ platform
  • Aaron’s petition to SpaceX for a public allocation of stock

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome, everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. And we have got a treat a really interesting conversation here for you today. First of all, if you’re new to the program, go check out some of our past episodes got interviews with smart CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs of companies and organizations ranging from Netflix to Kinkos’, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, and many more. And I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25 where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And my guest here today, his name is Aaron Burnett. He is the Founder and CEO of Spaced Ventures, the world’s largest community of space investors. So if you’re a little bit of an amateur space geek like I am, then you’re going to enjoy this because we’re going to talk about SpaceX and kind of the race back to the moon and to Mars and beyond. And that’s really what their mission is about is to accelerate space innovation faster and get humanity to those places beyond the stars. 

And of course, this episode brought to you by my company Rise25, where we help b2b businesses get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. And you can learn all about it at rise25.com. All right, Aaron, so you got this great story. You had a bit of a crisis earlier in your career, where you didn’t working for startups worked for Fortune 500 companies worked in marketing. And I want to go to the key moment for you which which put a shiver down my spine when I watched it live unfold on the live stream. And that was when SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company did the first Falcon Heavy launch and this was the one where they took Elon personal Tesla Roadster, the first or second vehicle they ever created, and put it on the top of this rocket launched it up into space. And you’re watching this from Ecuador, actually, where you’d gone. You taught in South America but take me back to that moment in time. And what that what a big impact that had on you.

Aaron Burnett 2:37

Yeah, it’s a it’s a it was very impactful. Millions of people are watching that live stream. I’m not sure exactly how many millions. But that iconic image of two boosters landing side by side. It’s yeah, vertically, like a perfect time of day, you know, the lighting was just perfect. It just looks exactly like it was something out of a science fiction TV show. Right? So I grew up watching Stargate SG one with my with my dad and brother in any any other science fiction, I could, you know, watch or binge, you didn’t really binge stuff back then. But anything I could do, right like that. I tried to capture it and just, you know, consume as much as I could, because it was it was so cool. And it was the future. And I kind of wanted to live in the future. But it was an escapism a fiction. But what was happening in front of my eyes, and that live stream was clearly science fiction, but happening so I had a little bit of an existential crisis. And yes, I was in Ecuador at the time because I had had my quarter life crisis where I moved to South America to volunteer and teach in the middle of my marketing community building careers said, I got to do something more impact. So my mind was already geared towards how can I have more impact on the world? How can I do something a little bit more meaningful? In addition to hopefully make some you know, have a great career or what have you, how can you do something more meaningful? And so that was where that was my frame of mind. I’m watching something unfold in front of me that is clearly just incredibly inspiring and gave me a mini existential crisis of what’s real, what’s not. And yeah, I just I have to be a part of this i that started me on a year and a half to two years binge of as much space content as I could. It starts with YouTube and all that other stuff. You’re watching YouTube live stream, just go there YouTube channels.

John Corcoran 4:36

Everyday Astronaut, I’m sure you can send all his stuff. He’s great.

Aaron Burnett 4:40

Everyday Astronaut Isaac Arthur was another one. I like his stuff because a lot more like super futuristic, but also based in physics is a lot of math. So did a lot of that essentially changed almost everything that was bingeable at the time, then my natural inclination. And this is something that you know, you weren’t aware of yet but I I’ve had a brokerage account since I was 12. So I’ve always been a hobby investor. And so my mom opened that brokerage account for me and I was 12. And that was like 2001. Right at the end of the middle of the tech bubble, great time to learn.

John Corcoran 5:15

Depends on which part.

Aaron Burnett 5:18

Yeah, on the downside, so, yeah, it was I was a, I didn’t have really anything to lose, I was 12 year old. So you know, whatever. But it was fun. It was interesting. And so I’d always been a hobby investor as well. So naturally, what I did is I was trying to learn more about space industry, how it can be a part of it, and how it could impact humanity in a really cool, and also positive way was go to look at funding and stuff like that, right? Naturally, there’s very little space companies that are public and easy to trade. Well, unless you consider like the defense contract thing, or some Tristan said yes, and no, I

John Corcoran 5:55

mean, now that’s a big part of it is that there hasn’t been any excitement out of these big companies for years, you know, nothing

Aaron Burnett 6:02

big, new, different. Exactly. And that’s why SpaceX is so impactful, because it is new. It’s crazy. Science fiction. It’s real. It’s not whatever, right? Like, it just is very inspiring, because it feels like the future. And I think humans are driven towards the future, in many ways, and not everyone is some people like to live in the past, but many humans are driven towards the future. And so thinking just what creates that inspiration, but yeah, so I’m just like, how do I how do I get involved with the industry? How do I help? How can I use marketing to help? Because that’s my background. Yeah, there were no marketing jobs back then you could literally type in like marketing, and there’s like, no marketing jobs other than, like, PR communications was wasn’t wasn’t my skill set. And so, yeah, it’s kind of stuck. And so I said, Hey, look, there’s funding opportunities, potentially, because I was, you know, as a nerdy hobbyist investor, one of the things you start binging is like, space capital, funding reports, private funding and space reports. And so hey, that’s interesting. Oh, it looks like there’s some stagnation at the early stages. Looks like they don’t get that much money. It looks like most of the money’s going to a few companies like SpaceX. Yeah. Where is there other money? Is there other money to go to other companies to start talking to space? Uh, yeah,

John Corcoran 7:20

they have big amounts of money to invest in most of those opportunities, right? That not small. Is he this is even a pre crowdfunding days, right. I mean, it was Kickstarter much I forget exactly. Well,

Aaron Burnett 7:30

they would have been, well, Kickstarter would have been back into those 12 or something.

John Corcoran 7:37

So they’re starting to come on the scene. But yeah, you know, yeah.

Aaron Burnett 7:42

Not to mention, you know, there are some fairly famous crowd funded space projects. But when you don’t have equity involved, there’s a limit to what you can, you know,

John Corcoran 7:53

give away willing to put in the cool project.

Aaron Burnett 7:57

Yeah, but yeah, for like The Planetary Society to million dollar space solar sail, that they put together. million dollars was, was crowdfunded together. Yeah. So equity crowdfunding comes on the scene. So let’s just StartEngine, you know, a former guest, or Republic, or we funder

John Corcoran 8:17

and I forget what you but that actually took a change in 2000 2016

Aaron Burnett 8:20

is when the rules really, these companies really start coming into effect. And the rules are in effect, and they’re starting to do stuff for the industry. So I’m paying attention to that, right. And I’m just keeping my eye open and trying to figure out how I can be involved in any way, shape, or form. And eventually, the light ball, the two things kind of connect, hey, this crowdfunding, I’m interested in investing, there’s problems with space companies not getting funding in early stages, maybe these this interesting desire to have access, like I want to invest in early stage space companies, but there’s not many opportunities, there is a way to merge these two problems together and create a solution, which is what we did, you know, create a community of space investors open to everyone over the age of 18, regardless of their net worth, or anything like that. And bring in really good space companies that we can find they’re doing really interesting things and try and get them funded initially, they’re almost always gonna need more money, but get them started. So they can get down that path to where they can bring value, bring out more investors, create more value, bring in more investors, and hopefully, you know, pray something that changes humanity.

John Corcoran 9:34

So what was the first project that you decided to take on? So you start this company? It was looks like it was 2019. And then, did you put some thought into like, what projects should we start first? And it’s also the hardest thing is you’re building a marketplace is two sides. You got to have people willing to invest and you have companies that are willing to come onto your platform that’s really hard to do.

Aaron Burnett 9:56

Yeah, so the Delaware C Corp. was formed in 2020. It took us a year, when you do this with crowdfunding, you have to get a license through FINRA and sec. And you’re FINRA member and you’re regulated. So we had to do some fundraising of our own. To get that all set up, then we were able to actually go get our license in May of 2021. So about a year later, and then by June, and we were doing a private beta with our first company called Exos-Space. So during all that time, right, when you have to do regulatory stuff, gives you great opportunity to start to start talking to space companies. And so I’d already talked with many at this point in time, because they were they I was trying to figure out if there’s actually a need for funding, or if there was even enough companies, I was really surprised to find out that now there’s well over 1000, early stage space companies working on interesting things. Are they all perfect? Are they all investable? Absolutely not. But you know, hundreds of decent companies to invest in. And so

John Corcoran 11:04

why do you think there? Is that typical? Or do you think that there’s more now than there was 10 or 20 years ago?

Aaron Burnett 11:10

Oh, definitely more? Now? You can, we actually have an interesting kind of tool on our site where we track a lot of space companies, we’re tracking over 1200. And that’s actually slightly out of date, a couple years out, or a year or so out of date or some at this point, we’ll be updating that. But if you go to our site, you can actually see based over time, right, there’s a lot early, you know, and then, you know, ever since SpaceX, they really start to multiply, mainly because of the excitement. But also because of the reduced cost of access to space, it went from 50 plus $1,000 per kilogram down to like right now your average is less than 5000 per kilogram. But