This story is kind of weird and long. It’s about a person I meet on the internet who lives in Romania.
Counter to what most people normal people would do I decided to ‘gift’, sorry invest, a significant amount of money in this person to embark upon a project. I have never met him. I did limited checks on him to testify that his words were true. I have already given him the money. Below is the story – so far.
I was on-line late one evening when a request came through from a stranger to connect on skype. It didn’t look like spam or some girl promising lewd conduct. So I accepted the request to connect from Raul Oaida. The discussion then started with him hoping that I could connect him with one someone I was linked to on LinkedIn. The person in question was Esther Dyson. Esther is a renowned Venture Capitalist, Entrepreneur and innovationist in many fields. Quite the tech celebrity. I informed Raul that my link to her was limited and tenuous. That I only have only met her twice at Stream Conferences as she is a board member of WPP. Sure I know her and have had a conversation or two, but I couldn’t introduce someone to her, let alone someone I only met on the internet. I challenged him to contact her directly, but certainly not to mention me. Next, I bid him an on-line farewell and wish him luck.
Fast forward 1 week. Raul contacts me again via skype. This time he doesn’t ask permission. He is already connected to me on-line. He tells me that Esther has responded to his query, but is unable to assist at this time. So I engage a little futher, assuming his interest lies within the startup arena. It does – kind of. He tells me that he is a rocket scientist looking for funding on his latest rocketeering project ‘October Sky’. The honest truth is that this piques my interest. It is not everyday that a startup entrepreneur is interested in sending rockets into space. It is certainly more interesting than someone the next guy pitching a mobile app or CMS idea.
I tell him he doesn’t need Esther, or anyone in particular. What he needs is a little more imagination, and a bootstrapping startup ethic to make the thing happen. I go on to recommend a few books, reading material and other ways people have got their startup into action any cash of their own or direct funding funding. In the interim, he disagrees telling me this is impossible.
From the actual Skype chat:
Steve Sammartino: My advice is don’t wait for permission. Just start.
Raul Oaida: I have no funding, that is the problem. I am an 18 year old from east europe
Steve Sammartino: You don’t need funding – you need imaginiation
Get a book on how to start your project without money.
A good one is ‘The art of the start’ by Guy Kawasaki. read this book. it will help
Raul Oaida: It is impossible, cannot make anything without money and I’m not out for profit, if you remember one of the 3 main goals is to found a non-profit.
For me I belive a better book is Rocket Propulsion Elements by Sutton 🙂
Do you have any contacts from the aerospace field?
Steve Sammartino: No sorry. If you want to get your project going you will learn how to self fund… it is possible. Feel free to ping me later.
Raul Oaida: It is impossible to make a rocket without money 🙂
Steve Sammartino: I will try and help you in more detail on how to get your projecty going without money….
there are ways of doing this…. it is a skill in itself – like rocketeering is 🙂 I will prove it to you….
You get the picture, nothing like teaching someone the art of bootstrapping, on what is fundamentally a cool project.
So after a few more skype chats, I teach him that a smaller project is needed. A proof of concept, or in this case, an example the skills he has in this area. So We developed a smaller version of the October Sky project which will get our ‘Propulsion Device’ into the near space field – that is an altitude above 100,000 feet. This project was only 10% of the estimated cost of the larger rocket project October Sky.
We also decided that we should make a mini documentary of it to show case the planning, the process, the visuals and the event. I agreed to fund it, if I could choose the payload and have the rights to the visual footage for my ‘own purposes’. From this we will create some very interesting film for viewing on the web. And in doing so Raul, will start to become known as a Rocketeer – taking him closer to the bigger projects.
Already he is learning the art of inspiring and collaborating with others to make a project happen.
I’ll keep you posted as the project details arrive – including what we are sending into space.