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Traverse City-based company taps into Michigan economic development resources to advance space communications technology
In response to the growing aerospace sector, a long-standing group of four friends, colleagues and U.S. military veterans launched ATLAS Space Operations in 2015 to improve outdated satellite communications through new-age aerospace technology.
“We all have a history in air force satellite control and commercial networks that were built out of the Cold War,” said Mike, co-founder and chief strategy officer at ATLAS. “These networks served their purpose, and they still serve a purpose today, but they’re not compatible with the advanced technologies of a new space era.”
Today, ATLAS has a network of 13 antennas placed in 10 different countries. These antennas allow ATLAS to collect fast and reliable data for clients from each corresponding satellite for purposes such as earth observation, device connection, wildlife tracking, climate tracking and more.
Using this data, ATLAS offers The Freedom Software Platform, a global ground network management system that provides a simplified, intuitive solution to satellite communications. Freedom simplifies the traditionally complex—and often manual—approach to satellite operations and network management with a cloud-based, software-only space management and control system. This innovative platform transforms the entire process of scheduling, receiving status updates and notifications to allow for full automation.
ATLAS competes in the international marketplace with the help of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a no-cost consulting, training and market research service available to businesses in the state. In 2017, the SBDC’s Tech Team offered ATLAS business analysis and counsel in pitch development. Ultimately, the Tech Team’s support helped the company obtain its first seed funding and later provided legal counsel when obtaining its first investment deal.
“The Tech Team members challenged us to refine our assumptions and projections, thus building a bullet-proof pitch for investors,” said Mike. “The decades of experience brought to the table by the SBDC Tech Team allowed us to negotiate more confidently for an equitable investment, which has grown significantly over the past four years.”
Additionally, the MEDC’s First Customer Program offered ATLAS subsidized market research, which was conducted by the MEDC and University of Michigan School of Business. This partnership helped ATLAS secure its earliest customers and market assessments while allowing the MEDC to continue investing in Michigan’s high-tech industry and talent pool.
Michigan has over 80,000 workers in the tech field, making companies like ATLAS well equipped to boost Michigan’s economic prosperity and establish the state as a leader in the high-tech industry. Today, the Traverse City-based company receives continuous funding from the MEDC to continue engaging in international markets.
“The MEDC is dedicated to growing Michigan’s economy by helping entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said Mike. “They can identify your needs and offer the right opportunities to support your company, not just in the challenging times, but all the time. If you’re a successful company, you should still reach out to the MEDC because they can help perpetuate and build on that success.”
The MEDC provides extensive support to tech companies like ATLAS Space Operations. Whether the company is in early or late-stage development, MEDC can identify opportunities to perpetuate growth. Providing technology-focused entrepreneurs with the resources needed to get started in Michigan, high-tech companies can seek expert guidance on go-to-market strategies, hiring talent, raising capital and much more.
The MEDC has a team of experts ready to accelerate your Michigan business. Explore where you can tap into and benefit from our resources at michiganbusiness.org/entrepreneurship.