16 November 2020 1076 words, 5 min. read

[Podcast] SpaceSense, satellite image processing start-up using AI

By Lorène Fauvelle PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
SpaceSense is a recent French start-up offering a solution for processing satellite imagery using artificial intelligence. We learn more in this podcast with Sami Yacoubi, co-founder of SpaceSense. Discover this entrepreneurial adventure in this new podcast.Haut du formulaire Summary Chapter […]

SpaceSense is a recent French start-up offering a solution for processing satellite imagery using artificial intelligence. We learn more in this podcast with Sami Yacoubi, co-founder of SpaceSense.

Discover this entrepreneurial adventure in this new podcast.Haut du formulaire


The marketing idea to be retained absolutely

Don’t hesitate to talk to others about your idea. Ask questions to get a lot of feedback from experts, prospects and customers. This will enable you to improve your concept and make it more relevant to the needs of the market.

icône expérience entrepreneuriale et chiffres-clés

Chapter 1: Your entrepreneurial experience in 3² points

3 key figures

Fundraising of 1 million euros, 10 full-time employees and 1 million hectares analysed and integrated into the algorithms.

3 Tips for future start-uppers

Tip 1: Be well supported (team, investors, mentors)
Tip 2: Do not hesitate to ask questions and ask for help
Tip 3: Receiving unemployment benefits is a considerable financial help

3 essential skills to launch a start-up

The first skill mentioned by Sami Yacoubi is adaptability: it is essential to be able to change one’s mind. The second skill for an entrepreneur is the ability to question oneself. Finally, the third competence mentioned is perseverance.

genèse de l'idée entrepreneuriale

Chapter 2: The genesis of the business idea

SpaceSense helps companies integrate information from active satellites. The start-up combines satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to create models capable of detecting different types of information. To date, SpaceSense is focused on the agricultural sector and on monitoring crop health, soil quality and forecasting. Their objective is to simplify access to satellite data via a model adapted to the different needs of clients.

Sami Yacoubi points out that neither he nor Jyotsna Budideti, co-founders of SpaceSense, have any knowledge of the agricultural market. However, their investors do. Also, SpaceSense works through partners who do combined sector analyses.

The business idea

Jyotsna is at the origin of the idea of SpaceSense. The first observation was the usefulness that satellite data combined with AI could have. The second conclusion is linked to the fact that many sectors could benefit from it, but the actors are not aware of the existence of these data, or they are too complicated to deal with.

validation de l'idée entrepreneuriale

Chapter 3: Confirmation of the business idea

Sami Yacoubi and Jyotsna Budideti carried out several validation phases of the idea

SpaceSense’s market research:

  1. Qualitative interviews were carried out with prospects to define several versions of the Proof-of-concept and improve the solution based on feedback from professionals.
  2. An analysis of the competition to understand the business model of companies using satellite imagery.
  3. 6 months of market research to analyse around ten industries that could benefit from satellite imagery (agriculture, insurance, environmental management, and so on).

Sami Yacoubi says it was not particularly difficult for them to find respondents.

People are curious; we are lucky enough to work on a technology that makes you dream a little.

démarrage de la startup

Chapter 4: Getting started

The first contacts and clients of SpaceSense were contacted by e-mail and via LinkedIn. The most curious and the most open to innovation expressed the willingness to invest time and money in the project.

Image management

  • The technology and its development were a complicating factor, as the solution had to be adapted quickly to manage numerous satellite images.
  • The images are mainly taken from the European Union and European Space Agency databases which are accessible in Open Data and can be revisited in 3 to 5 days. Additional data are available via NASA, other international space agencies and private actors (Airbus, Planet, and others) whose revisit time is shorter and whose images are more qualitative, but for which a fee is charged.

SpaceSense has received several positive signals from the market

  1. The response rate to e-mails was 25% on the first e-mailing campaign
  2. Some contracts have been renewed

SpaceSense also aims to propose satellite data in Open Data.

[We want to] make it accessible to researchers, students, people who want to play a little with satellite imagery.

phase de décollage de l'entreprise

Chapter 5: Take off

Sami Yacoubi believes that recruiting talent is the essential first step in getting a business off the ground. The objective for SpaceSense is to accelerate the development of the company, and in particular its commercial development. The second step is to gather the experiences of customers and prospects to improve the solution continuously.

The start-up has grown from the integration of 100 hectares to 1 million hectares in 2020 and is currently negotiating to integrate an additional 1 to 2 million hectares.

Recruiting talent

The SpaceSense team is very diverse and is the pride of the company. The considerable advantage for this French start-up is the official in-house language: English. This allows the company to recruit highly qualified international profiles.

The sector of activity and the company’s values are also very appealing factors for talent. Moreover, SpaceSense develops not only objectives for the company but also for its employees to guarantee their evolution.

One of the challenges for SpaceSense is linked to the traditional habits of farmers, especially in France. This is why 70% of SpaceSense’s market is abroad, where market players are more advanced in terms of innovation.

We work with companies that are just a little more open, that want to test innovation, that want to differentiate themselves from what their competitors are proposing.

le futur de la startup

Chapter 6: The future

SpaceSense aims to become, in the long term, the reference solution for satellite image analysis, a very extensive library of algorithms applicable in many sectors.

We are starting to think and discuss AI projects directly onboard satellites, which would allow us to process a large part of the information in orbit.

SpaceSense also wants to open its services to new sectors. Next on the list is the insurance market, which should be on track for launch in mid-2021.

The objectives for 2025

  • 50 million euros in turnover
  • 100 employees
  • A solution available in 5 industries
  • A local commercial presence in certain regions

A podcast to help you develop your start-up

In 2020 we are changing the format of our podcasts. The aim is to help you develop your start-up by providing you with relevant information on specific topics.

Our podcasts are now divided into chapters of +/- 3 minutes. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific theme or development phase. You can therefore listen to the entire podcast or choose to listen to only part of it by directly selecting the part that interests you the most.

Illustration : shutterstock

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