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Peter Platzer (Spire Global): Aspiring Unicorn

Peter Platzer, CEO and Co-Founder of Spire Global, sits down with Jerome Wittamer of Expon Capital to unravel his entrepreneurial journey. The conversation delves into the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur, highlighting the challenges of assembling an adept team and expanding the customer base while scaling operations.


What was the route you took to your current role? 

I started as a physicist from the TU Vienna working at CERN and went on to do an MBA at Harvard. I have also held roles as a consultant, quant researcher, and portfolio manager on Wall Street. However, after studying at the International Space University, I founded Spire Global in 2012. Spire is now a leading space company focused on benefiting planet Earth. We specialize in space-based data, analytics and space services, and we have the largest multipurpose satellite constellation Our goal is to find unique solutions from space, to solve real-world problems on Earth. We anticipated AI's emergence as a predictive and analytical tool. AI aligns with our data-driven approach to addressing climate change and enhancing life on Earth. By 2023, Spire achieved over $105 million in revenues. We aim to exceed a billion dollars annually in the future.

"Initially, technology dominates the complexity of a startup. However, as a company scales, managing people's complexity becomes paramount.”

How did your leadership evolve as the company scaled? 

Adapting as a leader is essential for growth. Initially, technology dominates the complexity of a startup. However, as a company scales, managing people's complexity becomes paramount. The transition from a small team in a garage to a company with hundreds of employees across the globe necessitates a shift. We had to diversify our team, balancing risk appetites and augmenting our capabilities to emphasize both technical skills and the manner of achieving results. From a handful of employees, we’ve scaled up our team to around 450 people. Our missteps were primarily on the people side, either in hiring or in evolving roles within the company. Recognizing when an individual's aspirations or abilities no longer align with the organization's direction is a recurring challenge. 

Could you share your insights into scaling a tech company? 

Preparing the groundwork is crucial – you want to avoid building the plane mid-flight. However, the transition was embedded in our initial strategy: Hiring extrovert engineers open to business concepts. This facilitated the integration of sales and marketing personnel, maintaining a balance between technical and business expertise. Our greatest operational challenges were in scaling revenue from a million to a hundred million dollars. The challenges lay in scaling our systems to accommodate a growing customer base. This required robust CRM, accounting, and compliance frameworks. Transitioning from personal customer relationships to managing hundreds across different countries necessitated a scalable and efficient operational backbone.

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