The SpaceX Mafia

July 21, 2023
Tech Mafias

Company "mafias" are all the rage, and we here at PIN love to dig deep into the most influential 'Tech Mafias,' especially since we're huge on democratizing access to startup investing by supporting communities with all the legal and bureaucratic work when it comes to setting up a community investment club.

The SpaceX Mafia is not playing small - more than 46 companies founded and $1 billion in funding. That's a strong group! This week we take a look at the top organizations, their founders, investors, and more.

If you missed our previous posts, make sure to check the Twitter Mafia, Lyft Mafia, Stripe Mafia, Netflix Mafia, InstaCart Mafia, Dropbox Mafia, Revolut Mafia,Tesla Mafia,Square Mafia, Reddit Mafia, VMware Mafia and Amazon Mafia articles. Investing in fellow coworkers' startups, especially as a community or alumni group, is one of the best ways to get in early on deals as well as support the ideas and ventures of people you love and admire. Who knows what's around the corner in your own network and community!

Companies Featured:

  • Divvy Homes
  • Reliable Robotics
  • ABL Systems
  • Synthego
  • Miso Robotics
  • Vector Launch
  • Playbook
  • Varda
  • Exafunction
  • Levels
  • Firefly Aerospace
  • Phantom Space
  • Xona Space Systems
  • Stellar Pizza
  • Ursa Major
  • Freeform
  • Parallel Systems
  • Vori
  • Plantd
  • Sense Finance
  • Inversion
  • Talyn Air
  • Spanning Labs
  • Agot
  • Barti
  • Axicle
  • Myolyn
  • BRIO Systems
  • Electra Era Technologies
  • Duro Labs
  • Pallet
  • Cyph
  • Turion Space
  • Violet Labs
  • Kalogon

Divvy Homes

Founder: Alex Klarfeld
SpaceX Role: Power Electronics Intern
Capital Raised: $1.2B
Investors: Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global Management
Stage: Series D

Alex is the co-founder at Divvy Homes which is a tech-enabled real estate platform that facilitates rent-to-own home purchases.

Reliable Robotics

Founder: Robert Rose
SpaceX Role: Director of Flight software
Capital Raised: $133.5M
Investors: Lightspeed Venture Partners
Stage: Series C

Robert is the CEO at Reliable Robotics Corporation which is expanding access to more places with automated aviation. He was a software engineer at Google.

ABL Space Systems

Founder: Harry O’Hanley
SpaceX Role: Manager, Falcon 9 Integration and Test
Capital Raised: $419M
Investors: Venrock
Stage: Series B

Harry is the founder and CEO at ABL Space Systems. ABL Space Systems specializes in building rockets to launch satellites.


Founder: Paul Dabrowski
SpaceX Role: Lead Digital Designer
Capital Raised: $459.7M
Investors: 8VC
Stage: Series E

Paul is the co-founder and CEO at Synthego. Synthego is a genome engineering company that enables access to CRISPR to accelerate life science research and development.

Miso Robotics

Founder: Rob Anderson
SpaceX Role: Propulsion Engineering Intern
Capital Raised: $96.3M
Investors: Meyer Global Management
Stage: Series D

Rob is the co-founder and Head of Mechanical Engineering at Miso. Miso Robotics develops and manufactures artificial intelligence-driven robots that assist chefs to make food at restaurants.

Vector Launch

Founder: Jim Cantrell
SpaceX Role: Vice President Business Development
Capital Raised: 102.8M
Investors: Sequoia Capital
Stage: Series B

Jim founded Vector Launch in 2016, raised $100M in venture capital and grew it to 180 employees as CEO. Vector offered micro satellite launch services.


Founder: Alex Zirbel
SpaceX Role: Avionics Intern
Capital Raised: $22M
Investors: Bain Capital Ventures, Founders Fund
Stage: Series A

Alex is the co-founder and CTO of Playbook which is a visual cloud storage platform to streamline and maintain control of creative assets.


Founder: Will Bruey
SpaceX Role: Spacecraft Operator - Systems Officer
Capital Raised: $51M
Investors: Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund
Stage: Series A

Will is the CEO and co-founder at Varda Space Industries, Varda is a space manufacturing startup that focuses on creating products in space for terrestrial applications.


Founder: Douglas Chen
SpaceX Role: Propulsion Intern
Capital Raised: $28M
Investors: Founders Fund
Stage: Series A

Douglas is the co-founder at Exafunction which optimizes deep learning inference workload, delivering up to a 10x improvement in resource utilization and cost.


Founder: Josh Clemente
SpaceX Role: Lead Life Support Systems Engineer
Capital Raised: $57M
Investors: a16z
Stage: Series A

Josh is the founder and President at Levels.  Levels is a health and wellness company committed to improving metabolic health through biowearables.

Firefly Aerospace

Founder: Thomas Markusic
SpaceX Role: Director, Texas Test Site
Capital Raised: $301.8M
Investors: DADA Holdings
Stage: Series C

Thomas is the CEO at Firefly Aerospace which provides launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services for small payloads. He was also the Propulsion Research Scientist at NASA.

Phantom Space

Founder: Jim Cantrell
SpaceX Role: Vice President Business Development
Capital Raised: $27.7M
Investors: Chenel Capital
Stage: Series A

Jim is CEO and co-founder at Phantom Space, a company that focuses on space transportation technology including satellites, propulsion, and launch vehicles. Jim has subject matter expert in satellite systems, space system markets and road racing.

Xona Space Systems

Founder: Bryan Chan, Brian Manning
SpaceX Role: Avionics and Flight Termination System Intern& Engineer
Capital Raised: $30.3M
Investors: Velvet Spark Ventures
Stage: Series B

Bryan is the co-founder and business developer at Xona. Xona Space Systems is building a next-generation satellite navigation system. At SpaceX, he designed and built a portable test rack for testing Falcon 9 flight termination system components on site, hours before launch.

Stellar Pizza

Founder: Brian Langone, James Wahawisan
SpaceX Role: Battery Mechanical Engineer
Capital Raised: $25.5M
Investors: Marcy
Stage: Series A

Brian is the CTO and co-founder while James is the founder at Stellar Pizza. Stellar is up-ending the quick food service industry with their automated, robotic mobile pizza truck – it’s a restaurant that drives directly to the customer, removing the need for expensive real estate while reducing the cost of labor.

Parallel Systems

Founder: Matt Soule, Matt Soule
SpaceX Role: Principal Avionics Engineer
Capital Raised: $52.3M
Investors: Anthos
Stage: Series A

Matt is the CEO and co-founder at Parallel Systems. Parallel Systems designs autonomous, zero-emissions freight transportation systems. It’s mission is to decarbonize freight while improving supply chain logistics and safety.

Ursa Major

Founder: Joe Laurienti
SpaceX Role: Propulsion Engineer
Capital Raised: $133.8M
Investors: Space Capital
Stage: Series C

Joe is the founder and CEO at Ursa Major Technologies. Ursa Major Technologies develops innovative propulsion solutions for the emerging microsatellite and nanosatellite launch market. Its advanced manufacturing optimizes unique part creation.


Founder: Thomas Ronacher
SpaceX Role: Senior Propulsion analyst
Capital Raised: $45M
Investors: Founders Fund
Stage: Series A

Thomas is the President and co-founder at Freeform which is 3D printing company offering metal 3D printing solutions for manufacturing companies.


Founder: Robert Pinkerton
SpaceX Role: Vehicle Systems Engineer
Capital Raised: $10.2M
Investors: Y Combinator, Greylock
Stage: Series A

Robert is the co-founder and CTO at Vori. Vori is a B2B operating system for the grocery industry, streamlining operations and democratizing food supply access.


Founder: Nathan Silvernail
SpaceX Role: Senior build engineer - Startship
Capital Raised: $10M
Investors: American Family Ventures
Stage: Series A

Nathan is the co-founder & COO at Plantd which is a manufacturer of building materials designed for sustainable and carbon-negative homebuilding.

Rising Stars

Sense Finance

Founder: Kenton Prescott
SpaceX Role: Reliability Engineering Intern
Capital Raised: $5.2M
Investors: Bain Capital Ventures
Stage: Seed

Kenton is the co-founder and CEO of Sense Finance. Sense Protocol is a decentralized fixed-income protocol on Ethereum, to manage risk through fixed rates and future yield trading.


Founder: Justin Fiaschetti
SpaceX Role: Propulsion Engineer
Capital Raised:
Investors: Y Combinator
Stage: Seed

Justin is the CEO and co-founder of Inversion. Inversion builds space capsules to return cargo back to Earth for the commercial, civil, and defense industries.

Talyn Air

Founder: Evan Mucasey
SpaceX Role: Vehicle Engineer - Crew Dragon
Capital Raised: $6.3M
Investors: Y Combinator
Stage: Seed

Evan is the CTO and co-founder at Talyn Air. Talyn Air is an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft system.

Spanning Labs

Founder: Prateek Shah
SpaceX Role: Flight Software Intern
Capital Raised: $8.4M
Stage: Seed

Prateek is the co-founder of spanning Labs which designs developer infrastructure for multichain teams.  He is a Georgia Tech CS graduate concentrated in Intelligence, Modeling, and Simulation.


Founder: Evan DeSantola
SpaceX Role: Propulsion Intern
Capital Raised: $14.1M
Investors: Hustle Fund
Stage: Seed

Evan is the co-founder and CEO at Agot. Agot is an all-in-one computer vision platform, purpose-built for the QSR industry. The suite of solutions are designed to solve the biggest pain points by digitizing restaurants activities and translating those observations into real-time team interactions.


Founder: Allan Wang
SpaceX Role: Avionics Intern
Capital Raised: $4.5M 
Stage: Seed

Allan is the co-founder and CTO at Barti which empowers optometry practices through software that focuses on the health of patients. Allan was also a Senior Software Engineer at LinkedIn.


Founder: Steve Krug
SpaceX Role: Aerospace Development Engineer
Capital Raised: $2.6M
Stage: Seed

Axicle transforms the long-haul trucking industry with an innovative product line that promotes safety and energy efficiency. Steve has also worked as a Systems Design/Architecture Engineer - Vehicle Dynamics Modeling at Tesla.


Founder: Alan Hamlet
SpaceX Role: Mechanical Engineer
Capital Raised: $1.4M
Stage: Seed

Alan is an engineer and entrepreneur who is passionate about advancing the theory and application of new technologies in hopes of ameliorating some of society's most extensive problems. He is the founder and CEO at MYOLYN, a medical device company that improves health and human performance by empowering people to move.

BRIO Systems

Founder: Boris Lipchin
SpaceX Role: Avionics Software Engineer and Guidance Navigation & Controls Engineer
Capital Raised: $2.2M
Stage: Seed

Boris previously co-founded a Y Combinator startup called Airmada, which focused on making B2B drone services easy, cheap and reliable. Boris is the CEO and co-founder at BRIO Systems, which offers a complete COVID-19 testing system to help employers keep teams safe and businesses on track.

Duro Labs

Founder: Kellan O'Connor
SpaceX Role: Propulsion Design Engineer
Capital Raised: $4M
Bonfire Ventures
Stage: Seed

Kellan is the co-founder and COO of Duro Labs. Duro labs provide cloud-based SaaS software to help hardware companies manage the design and manufacturing of their custom hardware products.

Electric Era Technologies

Founder: Quincy Edmund Lee
SpaceX Role: Manager of Starlink Gateways
Capital Raised: $7.3M
Investors: Asymmetry Ventures
Stage: Seed

Quincy is the founder and CEO of Electric Era, Electric Era engineers the world’s most advanced storage systems for EV fast charging stations with our power-dense storage system.


Founder: Jainil Sutaria
SpaceX Role: Space Operations - Interfaces & Automation
Capital Raised: $4.9M
Investors: Long Journey Ventures
Stage: Seed

Jainil is the co-founder and CTO of Pallet. Pallet is an infrastructure for community-driven hiring markets.


Founder: Joshua Boehm
SpaceX Role: Software quality analyst
Capital Raised: $1M
Investors: Goel Fund
Stage: Seed

Joshua is the COO and co-founder at Cyph. Cyph as the founders like to describe is a -  Stupid easy quantum-resistant encryption built by former SpaceX engineers.

Turion Space

Founder: Tyler James Pierce
SpaceX Role: Propulsion Analysis Engineer
Capital Raised: $6.3M
Investors: VU Venture Partners
Stage: Seed

Tyler is the co-founder, CFO & Director of Vehicle Design and Analysis at Turion Space. Turion Space assembles, tests, and operates the "Droid" spacecraft.

Violet Labs

Founder: Caitlin Curtis
SpaceX Role: Structure Engineer
Capital Raised: $4M
Investors: Felicis
Stage: Seed

Caitlin is the co-founder and COO at Violet Labs which is a Cloud-based software integration platform for complex hardware engineering.


Founder: Timothy Balz
SpaceX Role: Build Engineer - Starship TPS
Capital Raised: $5.2M
Investors: DeepWork Capital
Stage: Seed

Timothy is the founder and CEO at Kalagon. Kalogon is a company that manufactures and sells smart cushions for wheelchair users.

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