EOStartups

Capella Raises $97M Round, Led by NightDragon

Via Capella: Sliding Spotlight Image of Jurong Island Port, Singapore

Capella Space has raised a $97M Series C, led by NightDragon and joined by existing investors DCVC and Cota Capital. 

Founded in 2016, the SF-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) startup has raised $190M total to date and currently operates a constellation of seven small satellites. Those satellites are fitted with Capella’s SAR sensors, which can provide 50cm, all-weather, and 24/7 imaging. 

Snapshot in time 

Capella doubled revenue in the last 12 months of operations. It expects to triple revenue over the next 12 months and grow its total customer base by 400+%. “This financing allows us to double down on things that are working,” CEO Payam Banazadeh told Payload: building satellites, refreshing their design, developing new analytics tools, and staffing up the sales org to accommodate growth.

The state of SAR 

“I think the commercial side of the market for SAR is less mature than it is for optical [imagery],” Banazadeh said. Capella found product-market fit by building for defense/intelligence users, who have more experience and sophistication with SAR. “The business bets are all focused on the government customers, on the mature market that we believe in.” 

  • SAR and unclassified imagery have stood out in the Ukraine war, per Banazadeh, because the country is often obscured by clouds. It also isn’t a NATO member, which limits classified intelligence-sharing. 
  • Capella is collecting over Ukraine “many times” a day and “providing 24/7 support” to “multiple parties,” Banazadeh said. 

Capella’s strategy

“We’ve tried to build a company that’s as vertically integrated as makes sense,” Banazadeh said, and “selectively picked features to extract out of our imagery.” The company recently rolled out three new analytics products to Capella Console, its self-serve tasking platform. 

Banazadeh highlighted a few other strengths of Capella’s offerings: 

  1. An automated and API-first architecture
  2. Playing nicely with others and tipping/getting tipped for cross-tasking
  3. The compounding advantages of a growing archive, and Capella’s ability to build unique models on top of that. 

What’s next? Capella will grow its constellation in 2022 and 2023. Soon, it will also unveil a next-gen satellite with new bells and whistles aplenty. Banazadeh said Capella is uniquely positioned to “sit on the sidelines as a private company” and “grow our business, mature our books, and…get to EBITDA-positive.” Then, over the next two years, Capella will be able to pick the right time to “make our next move.”

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