UTS Startup Arlula streamlines a marketplace in space
UTS Startup Arlula, headed up by Arran Salerno, Bachelor of Laws, and Sebastian Chaoui, Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics), have set their sights to infinity and beyond, with a new way to monitor and record data. Named Most investible UTS Startup at the inaugural UTS Startups Awards, the team is taking to orbit in a bid to shake-up the space industry.
Give us your elevator pitch. What is your startup?
We are creating a marketplace for underutilised space resources, allowing people on earth to access satellites and other resources in space. We make it easy for them to accomplish goals on earth, with a broad range of applications. From medicine and experimentation in microgravity to earth imagery and observation, we can reach across areas ranging from precision agriculture and asset management, to monitoring the environment and illegal fishing. We are creating an easier and more affordable way of accessing valuable insights, through a marketplace model.
Who's your target audience, why do they need it and how does Arlula provide it?
The marketplace will eventually offer value for a broad range of industries, however we've begun by targeting the agricultural industry, specifically people creating insights for farmers. These users work with the sort of data that we can provide access to.
They need this data, but there are several barriers in the way of accessing that data. Usually, that data is provided by a number of players who've been in the industry for decades; they own satellites already, they charge a lot of money and, what’s more, access is manual and clunky. It’s not a very streamlined approach and it's very expensive, because they haven't had to change it over the years. They’re also used to dealing defence, big government, and bodies like that.
But what we're doing is streamlining it. We’re aggregating demand and supply and we're enabling smaller transactions to take place, so it’s more of an automated process as opposed to something before that was traditionally more manual.
What other services does Arlula offer?
We are also getting access to different “non-conventional” satellites. Our audience may also have assets owned by government or universities that weren’t being used for commercial purposes, and we are going to them with a commercial use case. We approach them with a way to earn money with their satellite. We're basically like a Salesforce for them, essentially.
We're also going to other suppliers as well; people in traditionally non-Western markets who own satellites and want to break into Western markets.
What's the problem your startup is solving? How long have you been working on it?
Currently, it is very difficult for organisations to gain simple, affordable and regular access to outer space. This is because the commercial space industry is still in its early stages and does not have the thriving ecosystems that other industries have developed. Conducting business in space is currently very expensive and adds an extra layer of unwanted risk to any venture.
We've been working on Arlula for 8 months now, identifying the most impactful way of creating an ecosystem within the space industry that encourages and supports commercial growth and development into the future.
Why is solving this problem important? Why does it matter to you?
We want to create a marketplace in space that allows new commercial opportunities to be developed in orbit. Currently this is difficult as there are very few standardised systems, technologies and processes allowing organisations to quickly and easily access this environment. By building out a commercially focused ecosystem that allows SMEs, governments and other organisations to purchase access to new capabilities in orbit, we create new ways people can push outwards and explore the opportunities this environment can offer humanity.
What was your tipping point that prompted you to pursue your idea?
We noticed there was a general sentiment of frustration and disappointment with the lack of existing options to commercially develop ideas in the space industry.
What key challenges and successes have you faced so far, or anticipate facing? How have you handled these challenges?
Since we started we have been trying to identify the best opportunities that could deliver the greatest disruptive commercial impact on the industry. In the process of creating a marketplace for assets in space and commodifying satellites and spacecraft, we've faced difficulty in dealing with parties who may be casualties of a disrupted industry if they don't adapt.
What's the biggest thing you've learnt so far?
We've noticed that not everyone moves at the same pace as a startup.
Who or what inspires you?
We are inspired by the opportunity to get millions of people building businesses and using the resources of space in a meaningful way.
What next big milestone are you going after? What do you need for it and how should people reach you?
We've had great success in working with organisations who see value in our service. We are now looking for our first early adopters, specifically people who rely on or would benefit from satellite imagery and Earth observation data.
Contacts with land managers, and to the agriculture and mining sectors would be quite valuable to Arlula. If you would like to contact us, please email either Sebastian (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Arran (email@example.com) for more information. Also, feel free to visit our website at www.arlula.com.
By Lourdes Millare, UTS Startups