Archive for February, 2021

Space startup Gitai raises $17.1M to help build the robotic workforce of commercial space

Japanese space startup Gitai has raised a $17.1 million funding round, a Series B financing for the robotics startup. This new funding will be used for hiring, as well as funding the development and execution of an on-orbit demonstration mission for the company’s robotic technology, which will show its efficacy in performing in-space satellite servicing work. That mission is currently set to take place in 2023. Gitai will also be staffing up in the U.S., specifically, as it seeks to expand its stateside presence in a bid to attract more business from that market. “We are proceeding well in the Japanese market, and we’ve already contracted missions from Japanese companies, but we haven’t expanded to the U.S. market yet,” explained Gitai founder and CEO Sho Nakanose in an interview. So we would like to get missions from U.S. commercial space companies, as a subcontractor first. We’re especially interested in on-orbit servicing, and we would like to provide general-purpose robotic solutions for an orbital service provider in the U.S.” Nakanose told me that Gitai has plenty of experience under its belt developing robots which are specifically able to install hardware on satellites on-orbit, which could potentially be useful for upgrading existing satellites and constellations with new capabilities, for changing out batteries to keep satellites operational beyond their service life, or for repairing satellites if they should malfunction. Gitai’s focus isn’t exclusively on extra-vehicular activity in the vacuum of space, however. It’s also performing a demonstration mission of its technical capabilities in partnership with Nanoracks using the Bishop Airlock, which is the first permanent commercial addition to the International Space Station. Gitai’s robot, codenamed S1, is an arm–style robot not unlike industrial robots here on Earth, and it’ll be showing off a number of its capabilities, including operating a control panel and changing out cables. Long-term, Gitai’s goal is to create a robotic workforce that can assist with establishing bases and colonies on the Moon and Mars, as well as in orbit. With NASA’s plans to build a more permanent research presence on orbit at the Moon, as well as on the surface, with the eventual goal of reaching Mars, and private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin looking ahead to more permanent colonies on Mars, as well as large in-space habitats hosting humans as well as commercial activity, Nakanose suggests that there’s going to be ample need for low-cost, efficient robotic labor – particularly in environments that are inhospitable to human life. Nakanose told me that he actually got started with Gitai after the loss of his mother – an unfortunate passing he said he firmly believes could have been avoided with the aid of robotic intervention. He began developing robots that could expand and augment human capability, and then researched what was likely the most useful and needed application of this technology from a commercial perspective. That research led Nakanose to conclude that space was the best long-term opportunity for a new robotics startup, and Gitai was born. This funding […]

Justworks’ Series B pitch deck may be the most wonderfully simple deck I’ve ever seen

It may be tough to remember, but there was a time long ago when Justworks wasn’t a household name. Though its monthly revenue growth charts were up and to the right, it had not even broken the $100,000 mark. Even then, Bain Capital Venture’s Matt Harris felt confident in betting on the startup. Harris says that, with any investment (particularly at the early stage of a company), the decision really comes down to the team and more importantly, the founder. Two of the main reasons this deck “sings” is the line it draws to the Justworks culture and that the deck isn’t “artificially simple.” “Isaac is a long-term mercenary, but short- and medium-term missionary,” said Harris. “The word that really comes to mind is ‘structured.’ If you ask him to think about something and respond, he’ll think about it and come back with an answer that has four pillars underneath it. He’ll create a framework that not only answers your specific question, but can prove to be a model that will answer future questions of the same type. He’s a systems thinker.” In 2015, Justworks closed its $13 million Series B, led by Bain Capital Ventures. Harris took a seat on the board. Since, the duo have been working closely together as Justworks has grown into the behemoth it is today. But these relationships work both ways. Oates said that one of the main things he looks for in an investor is how they’ll react when the chips are down. “Different people behave different ways under stress,” said Oates. “And people show their values and integrity in those types of situations. That’s when these things are tested. The simple way I think about this is, will this person pick me up from the airport in a pinch?” Though he’s never asked, he believes Harris absolutely would. On Extra Crunch Live, Harris and Justworks CEO Isaac Oates sat down to talk through how they resolve disagreements, why Oates never changed what must be one of the most simple pitch decks I’ve ever seen in my life, and how founders should think about pricing their products. They also gave live feedback on pitch decks submitted by the audience in the Pitch Deck Teardown. (If you’d like to see your deck featured on a future episode, send it to us using this form.) We record Extra Crunch Live every Wednesday at 12 p.m. PST/3 p.m. EST/8 p.m. GMT. You can see our past episodes here and check out the March slate right here. Episode breakdown Working through disagreements — 11:30 The Justworks Series B Deck — 15:00 Pricing the product — 25:00 Pitch deck teardown — 33:00 Working through disagreements Despite their glowing praise of one another at the top of the episode, the founder/investor duo haven’t always seen eye to eye. But they did provide an excellent framework around how founders and VCs should wade through disagreements around the business. Oates gave an example from 2017. He was considering putting in a dual-class stock, which would give […]