April 23, 2012
Even though the 2012 Business Plan Competition is now over I think it is important for you to know about the second place finisher, Astral Infiniti, LLC. Here’s some information about this impressive startup:
Astral Infiniti, LLC was founded in response to the growing demand for clean, renewable energy products due to rising fuel costs. Their first product is Solar Deck 24-7, a solar powered unmanned air vehicle (UAV) designed to fly for an indefinite period of time. Operating at altitudes above commercial airliners, Solar Deck 24-7 essentially acts as a satellite without requiring a launch into orbit like traditional satellites. The vehicle requires no toxic fuel, no re-entry burn and introduces no orbital waste compared to traditional satellites. It provides continuous surveillance beyond traditional fuel burning vehicles and at a fraction of the cost.
Solar Deck 24-7 can replace traditional fuel burning vehicles that currently perform tasks such as: Surveillance for military & civil purposes, news & traffic monitoring, scientific research, and environmental data collection. With that in mind their target customers are the U.S. Military, NASA, and Telecommunications companies. The UAV market is projected to double over the next decade growing from $4.9 billion to $11.5 billion annually.
The strategy of a long life, high altitude UAV design is to utilize an energy storage device that provides a high specific energy (energy per unit of weight), but also converts stored energy efficiently to a usable form. The challenge then is to integrate these two characteristics in a way that will realize the optimum performance of the UAV.
The patented Solar Deck 24-7 design does just that by incorporating flywheel technology. It provides a distinct competitive advantage over the competition, which use fuel cells, lithium-ion or lithium-sulfur batteries as storage devices. Astral Infiniti has developed a conceptual design and performance model of the vehicle that shows feasibility. The approach can continuously carry a 300 watt, 40 pound payload over a wide range of latitudes between the U.S borders.
Astral Infiniti’s competitive advantage is expertise in the industry as well as the patent on Solar Deck 24-7’s design. The barrier to entry into the aerospace industry is the amount of initial capital required to build a prototype and bring the UAV to market. They are aware of this challenge and are actively seeking investment capital. Once acquired, the combination of their industry experience and the investment capital makes the profit potential of Astral Infiniti astronomical. A typical government contract is either fixed price or cost plus fixed fee. Fixed price contracts typically allow 15% to 25% profit margin while cost plus contracts allow 6% to 10% profit margin.
D. Kent Decker has extensive experience in marketing technology to the NASA and military communities and has an established network of contacts within the target market. On top of that, he has successfully written proposals for and managed numerous government contracts.
CSUF student Daniel Decker is in his final year of the MBA program here at CSUF, with a concentration in management. Professionally, he has 5+ years of experience in business development and direct sales. They strongly believe that their unique combination of experience, capabilities, and skills will allow them to successfully convey the incredible market potential that Solar Deck 24-7 represents.
Even though Tank Skinz ended up winning this competition I have a feeling that Astral Infiniti will be alright.