I founded my first company while completing my PhD. I had been working for the Advanced Space Propulsion professor at Politecnico de Milano University in his lab, but after a year and a half, the contract used to pay me was terminated. I was forced to create my first company to survive, to keep the contracts I had in my hand at that time, and to conclude my degree.
The new company I founded was initially using high-speed cameras for the industrial market, a very profitable niche. After a while, we started producing drones, and our filming equipment nearly won us an Oscar! We were doing great, but my vision was different: I really wanted to make it to space.
While working on my business and my PhD, I was also preparing for the Italian astronaut recruitment campaign of 2008. I went through the first three selections, but I did not make it to the final one. At the time, I did not have a plan B. I realized: I had to find a way to go to space on my own. My company, D-Orbit, which designs technology to decommission satellites and remove space debris, came out of this rejection.
I chose to stay in Italy because I believe our country is a full of talented engineers that are just waiting for meaningful job opportunities. We hired young and promising professionals and recruited experienced, often retired, seniors to train them in an apprenticeship environment. In a sector in which only giants could survive, we were able to grow a company.
Endeavor made me realize that if companies on Earth think big, then there is no limit to how big we can think in D-Orbit! It encourages us to be more focused and grow faster. We’ve learned to carefully pick business partners, get good advisors from the start, learn from mistakes, and most importantly: never, ever, ever, EVER give up.
It is humbling to see so many inspiring and impactful entrepreneurs in the Endeavor network tackling issues that are so important and critical that make my ambitions dwarf in comparison. At the same time, this community is a constant source of inspiration for me, and gives me the courage and the resolve to stick with my vision, especially when things are getting tough.
I like when people appreciate what we are doing. I really love when customers call us and investors want to meet us. However, my personal satisfaction is knowing that what we are doing is making a difference, both in the space industry and in the society as a whole.