FF Rising Stars: Bianca Cefalo, Space DOTS

By Founders Forum Group // 27 September 2023

Bianca Cefalo, Co-Founder & CEO of Space DOTS, speaking at Founders Forum 2023.
Bianca Cefalo, Co-Founder & CEO of Space DOTS, speaking at Founders Forum 2023.

Bianca Cefalo’s Space DOTS is making the qualification of advanced space materials faster, cheaper, and simpler. See our FF Rising Stars of 2023!

The best place to test new advanced space materials is in space itself. Bianca Cefalo’s Space DOTS is transforming the traditional approach to material testing for space applications to make on-orbit qualification of materials faster, cheaper, and simpler.

Space DOTS raised $1.5m in pre-Seed funding in July 2023 from VCs including 7Percent Ventures, Blue Wire Capital, Boost VC, and Sie Ventures, and angel investors, Alex Ionescu and Elaine Lau.

Previously, Bianca led disruptive innovation roadmaps for next-gen telecommunication satellites at Airbus Defence and Space UK, before joining the startup world as Director of Aerospace and Defence at Carbice. Born in Naples, Italy, Bianca studied aerospace and astronautical engineering at university and worked on the NASA/JPL Insight Mars Mission, which landed on Mars in 2018.

Founded: 2021
Country: UK
No. of employees: 6
Stage: Pre-Seed
Total funding raised: $1.5m
Investors: Boost VC, 7 Percent Ventures, Blue Wire Capital, Sie Ventures, Alex Ionescu, Elaine Lau

Why did you decide to start Space DOTS?

After spending more than a combined 22 years in the space industry, the reality of a persistent paradox became evident to me and my co-founder: before any new technology or novel material can be utilised in space, it had to be proven reliable in the very space environment it is meant to operate.

As former spacecraft product managers for Airbus Defence and Space, we directly faced this challenge while developing advanced thermal and structural solutions for telecommunication satellites. We realised that this problem extended across the entire space industry, affecting companies big and small, resulting in considerable resources wasted on materials that took years (or even decades) to make it to market. 

We saw a pragmatic opportunity to address this issue, proposing a new paradigm in material testing – evaluating them directly in the intended space environment. This led us to establish Space DOTS, with a mission to provide a feasible and dependable solution to accelerate the adoption of space materials at a fraction of the current costs and complexities.

What do you want to achieve?

Our mission is to revolutionise space commercialisation and exploration by expediting in-orbit qualification of advanced materials, making it faster, cheaper, and simpler. Our goal is to reduce capital expenditure and time to market for novel materials, catalysing technology applications across all space environments. 

Space DOTS will enable the growing in-space economy to become more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable through the first ever active testing solution for in-situ testing; laying some of the foundational building blocks necessary to ensure the viability of a sustainable circular economy for space.

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Finding the right talent, who not only possess the necessary skills and expertise but also align seamlessly with our company’s unique culture. 

Securing exceptional candidates with a deep understanding of space technology is crucial to driving our innovative projects forward successfully. However, beyond technical prowess, our culture plays a pivotal role in fostering collaboration, creativity, and shared values. Identifying candidates who not only excel in their respective domains but also resonate with our company’s vision, mission, and work ethic is paramount to building a cohesive and high-performing team.

Who has helped you most in your journey so far? 

My unwavering beacon of inspiration throughout this transformative journey has been James Sheppard Alden, my extraordinary co-founder and CTO. From the very foundation of our venture, his boundless support, initially as a friend and later as a business partner, has been the most-needed force propelling Space DOTS forward to this very day.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever received?

Best advice:

To wholeheartedly believe in my vision, reminding me that unwavering faith in my dreams is the catalyst for others to believe in them too. At the same time, this counsel also emphasised the importance of staying flexible and open to potential pivots. While the vision remains steadfast, the path to achieving it may need to evolve, and being adaptable is key to navigating the unpredictable ground of entrepreneurship.

Worst advice:

The worst advice I received was rooted in stereotypes and gender bias. As a woman founder and CEO, I was wrongly advised to emulate the ways of my male counterparts to succeed or to appear softer and less intimidating. Recognising this as utter nonsense, I have embraced my authentic self, staying true to my capabilities and strengths, regardless of preconceived notions and creating a path that aligns with my values and vision.

What tech would you not be able to do without? 

When it was stolen a couple of months ago, alongside all my online banking access points, automation prompts, calendars, and saved passwords, I realised that as an entrepreneur, there’s one indispensable gadget that has become the lifeblood of my productivity and connectivity – my smartphone!

Discover more of our Rising Stars of 2023!