Interview with Abhinesh : Co-Founder and CEO of BigDipper Exploration Technologies
1. When did you decide to pursue the life of an entrepreneur?
It all started with a feeling of dissatisfaction with my job around 2018-19. I used to enjoy working and always looked forward to my day at the office but this feeling started to go away which led to a lot of introspection for months, ultimately resulting in the journey I have embarked upon.
2. What did your startup bring to the marketplace that wasn’t already prevalent? What is the unique selling point?
We are developing Autonomous Industrial Robots for lunar missions. These robots will enable a thriving Cislunar economy, by developing infrastructure and utilizing resources on the Lunar surface. Something like this has not yet been tried in India, by a startup, and we hope to lead from the front in the global arena.
3. What was your motivation while building up your venture? What pushed you forward?
The biggest motivation was my passion for Space. I always had an underlying desire to make a contribution in Space through out my life and the long introspection helped me realize that Space is what will restore my love for work. I started researching the domain in detail and thus began the journey of BigDipper Exploration Technologies in Space robotics. I am thrilled that now, I can also make a contribution in realizing the dream of making humans a multi-planetary species.
4. The individuals/entrepreneurs you respect the most and how have they motivated you?
Elon Musk is the person who made me realize that Space does not have to be limited to government agencies. If you are passionate enough and work hard, alongside the right team, then even the sky is not the limit anymore.
5. How is the Space-Tech industry shaping up in India and what are the opportunities/challenges that you see?
The coming decades will see an amazing growth in Space-Tech both in the Upstream and Downstream areas. ISRO has opened up the space sector to private players which will boost investor confidence and eventually more startups will come along to compete in the global scenario. That being said, we as a nation are still 3-4 years behind the global timelines so we need to accelerate both on policy making and investments, as far as Space industry is concerned, otherwise we have a very difficult road ahead. Most of the countries with a Space program have a clear plan now to develop infrastructure in Cislunar space and on the surface of the Moon, while we still do not have such timelines.
6. What is the most challenging thing you faced while building your venture from the ground up?
For a company like us which is trying to send robots on Moon, which only ISRO has done in India, is a big challenge. The biggest of which is access to capital in the initial stages. Developing even a prototype, which can eventually go to Space, itself requires a good amount of R&D effort and capital upfront which we haven't been able to raise in India. The recent announcement of the Start-Up India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) may help resolve this to some extent but we need more Angel, Micro VCs, pre-seed & Seed stage VCs to invest in companies which are developing technology for upcoming demand in the Cislunar & Lunar ecosystem. We do not have any investors looking at this market which is strange given the global scenario is so positive and investments are flowing into startups developing such technologies.
7. What constitutes success for you, personally? What drives you in the startup sense?
To me the only measure of success is contentment. If you are content with the path you are on in your life, in my eyes you are successful. My drive comes from my love for technology and passion for Space & science. Everyday, the motivation for me is the vision that what I am building will play a role in helping humans explore the cosmos. I think that's a goal worth getting up & work everyday.
8. For future accelerator batches, what would you have done differently in order to maximize what you’ve gained out of the program?
As Supreme itself is starting this journey, I think programs will get streamlined in coming years. My advise would be to create sub-programs, like Techstars, in collaboration with relevant industry partners. For example, hardware companies have totally different needs and got-to-market strategies than SaaS or App based companies, a focused program with right partners will help startups to propel in the right direction with a right business plan. They may even end up getting paid pilots which is a big validation.