Max Gulde: A Pioneer striving hard to bring Impact in the Space Industry

Elite League of Transforming Leaders 2021

While some may find success in financial gain, many entrepreneurs nowadays are driven to      bring significant change. Max Gulde, Co-founder and CEO of ConstellR, has loved working in the space domain for a long time. He has contributed well in the aerospace research industry through his venture and desires to continue the same for the future.

He says, “What we are trying at ConstellR is to use space for the good of humankind. If we win, everybody else wins, too. This change – and in fact most UN Sustainability Goals – is of a magnitude which can only be addressed by using space assets. In a nutshell, our contribution is to shift the balance in the space sector from defense and intelligence to planet-positive applications.”

Main Roadblock

They faced the main roadblock when one of their initial four co-founders left the venture and refused to return his shares weeks before their first-ever funding round. He says, “What we learned that day were two things: First: always trust your gut when it comes to getting people on board. However nice a CV, if you have a bad feeling – do not ignore this feeling. Second: team is everything. If you have people around you, you can trust, going through the hardship of building a company will bring you closer together than any single success ever can.”

Top Services and Vision of ConstellR

ConstellR provides precise, global temperature data for a growing planet. Owing to the rise in water scarcity, demographic pressure, and climate change, today’s agriculture is under increasing stress to deliver more food with less resources. At heart, food production is driven by freshwater availability, which is in turn driven by temperature. Our temperature monitoring service will be the first-ever service to provide global, daily, precise, plot-level temperature data as the fundamental environmental variable to determine crop water needs. This enables our customers, smart farming companies, to support farmers all over the world in getting the most “crop per drop” by increasing water efficiency by nearly 100%. The team kept partnering with the world’s best organizations to impart the best technical solutions in the easiest possible way to the customer.

He shares, “My vision for ConstellR is to enable sustainable living on our planet. As a scientist, I would phrase it as to redefine the understanding of our world’s energy, carbon, and water cycles. As an entrepreneur, it then becomes to provide the fundamental dataset to enable a global sustainable agriculture for our and the generations to come.”

Marking the beginning of his Entrepreneurship Journey

He already loved working in research, however, he needed to align his love for research with how it impacted the lives of people. He decided to reset his focus and as a result, he says, “I got the position of mission scientist for the first-ever satellite from Europe’s largest research organization for applied science at Fraunhofer EMI in Freiburg, Southern Germany. Here, I had the opportunity to dive into a completely new topic and used my former training as a physicist to find solutions to all kinds of different challenges.”

Working there, he thought, he could contribute better to society.

Then he stumbled upon an ESA competition where different teams participated to come up with a solution of challenge related to CubeSat mission and created significant societal impact at the lowest cost. At such time, he and his colleague submitted their solution and were humbled to witness that they were one of the three finalists. Although he couldn’t win it, he was happy with his contribution and within 2 years of further development and research, ConstellR was formed.

Being from a competitive family, he had all the traits to become a successful entrepreneur such as the love for challenges, the endurance to keep going, inventiveness, and strong work ethics. He shares, “One of the greatest achievements is that we quadrupled the size of the company in less than a year and that we will move from incorporation to the first orbital system in less than two years and only one funding round.”

Balancing the Roles at Personal and Professional Fronts

At home, Max has a great family that ensures that he religiously fulfills all his duties and spends good time with them. He shares, “In pre-COVID time, I would collect the children, get them ready for breakfast and then bring them into day care and kindergarten, which is currently both covered by my wife. I then go into the office two days of the week and work the remainder of the week from home. When at home, I enjoy lunch with the family and keep working until dinner. This usually evolves into playing with the kids until they go to bed.” He ensures that he always leaves one day a week off from work, completely focused on family.

As the CEO of ConstellR, he has the main job of ensuring ample funding be it from public or venture so that company operations don’t get hindered. He shares, “I lead mission design and have roles in partner management, all things legal & HR, as well as am supporting in business development. One of the big tasks ahead of all of us is to create a corporate structure and team to fill those roles, allowing my co-founders and myself to concentrate more on strategic aspects.”

As a firm believer of communication as the ultimate binder and motivator, he makes sure that all have a transparent and failure-tolerant company culture.

He says, “In my experience, the key to becoming really successful is to frequently fail.” Thus, in case anyone makes any mistake or faces challenges, seeking support is essential. Even if someone achieves something, there is recognition and reward for appreciation. Also, the employees are encouraged time and again to share their motivation, aspirations and suggestions for improvement during regular feedback meetings.

Shining Future of ConstellR

Max is proud to have the first system in orbit within 12 months from now. While all activities right now focus towards that date, they are then going to handle the implementation of the constellation. Also, he has a target for 2023 i.e., to be fully operational at substantial capacity. Owing to the growing partner network of distributors, the company is confident to gain global reach till then.

He adds, “By 2026, our goal is to have expanded our service enough to enable about 7% more global food production while saving billions of liters of freshwater, both of which should have a major impact on the prosperity of currently developing regions.”

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