What could be the secret that allows startups sometimes to outperform big companies, having significantly less resources?
I wouldn't say that startups outperform big companies. Startups create innovation.
You know that old stupid saying that you would never invent electricity by trying to improve the candle. So big companies can only improve candles because they are big, they are slow, they are strong. They have a know-how, they have customers. And they will improve these mechanics. They will try to fit the needs of their own customers. They will try to improve their technology.
But having a breakthrough, a real unconventional approach can only come from individuals. These people usually come from universities, PhDs, who have an idea and have an understanding of how this idea can be translated into something real new.
This is exactly what happened to Dotphoton. And to many other startups. It's based on the idea of one or a few creative people. And this is something you cannot have in a big company. So innovation will come from startups. But then the question is will startups overcome? And be more efficient than big companies?
It's difficult. Sometimes you have new companies, startups, which really disrupt the domain and kill the existing companies. In space we haven't seen that, for the time being.
The only real success story in space is of course SpaceX. And SpaceX is just doing the same. Innovation in SpaceX is in the implementation, not in the product. They're building the same rockets as others, as Arianespace. But the process to build rockets has been completely disrupted by Elon Musk. And that's what made this company successful. Then if you look at space in general, there are not that many companies which have managed to disrupt the domain.
Planet is also a very successful company, but it's heavily subsidised by the American government and it has not disrupted and killed the other producers of images. So I would be cautious. We are seeing a number of companies which are growing, which seem to be developing well by building, providing subsystems or some elements. But are there that many disruptive companies which have changed the landscape in space? If we make a real analysis - not that many.
So I think innovation will continue to come from startups like Dotphoton. And now the big guys are turning to us and saying," Oh, this is what we need. We thought this was impossible, but it's going to be really interesting, and we want to work with you and we will grow like that."
But, as for disruption, I’m not sure.