Live from SXSW: Pathfinder with SkyFi, Umbra, Albedo, and Firehawk


This episode was recorded live during South by Southwest at the SkyFi Summit, with leaders from SkyFi, Albedo, Umbra, and Firehawk Aerospace. Pathfinder #0039 is brought to you by Kepler Communications, a company bringing the internet to space—find out more here.


Today, we’re bringing you a live podcast from South by Southwest that was recorded Tuesday at the SkyFi Summit. 

Pathfinder #0039 is brought to you by Kepler Communications, a company bringing the internet to space—find out more at

Bear in mind that four guests at once is a new format for us, but the convo that follows is funny, fast-moving, and definitely worth your while. On-stage and speaking alongside Ryan were:  

  • Luke Fischer, CEO of SkyFi,
  • Gabe Dominocielo, cofounder and president of Umbra,
  • Katie Betts, head of BD at Albedo,
  • Will Edwards, CEO of Firehawk Aerospace

First, some news: This week, SkyFi said it has officially onboarded Umbra and Satellogic as imagery providers on its platform.

A sneak peek

We chatted all things Earth observation: pain points, market potential, SAR, the sales process, regulation, analytics, and more. Ryan asked each exec whether the “smartest people in the room” cast aside their business idea as “impossible,” and what proving them wrong looks like.  

  • Gabe opened up for the first time about Umbra’s bootstrapped origins and harped on the end-all, be-all in EO: unit economics.
  • Luke highlighted SkyFi’s recent momentum with both imagery providers and consumers/end users of its platform, and spoke about the primacy of UX (user experience) for his company.
  • Will brought 3D-printed rocket fuel as a prop, showed the audience Firehawk’s recent hot-fire test; and provided a state-of-play on rocket propulsion in the US.
  • Katie shared more color on Albedo’s backstory, along with its go-to-market plan, and delivered the quote of the day: “We will be able to detect adult pigs from space, but not baby pigs.”


00:00:00—Intro and Kepler Ad    

00:02:07—Live panel begins     

00:03:22—Will, his prop, and Firehawk’s hot fire    




00:08:39—The status quo in EO

00:17:30—The smartest people in the room say it’s impossible…chips on shoulders and proving the haters wrong    

00:28:15—A word from Kepler 

00:29:05—How do you decide who to partner with?  

00:39:04—Predicting future products and capabilities    

00:46:53—Q from social media: Could you product have found Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?    

00:48:44—Audience Q: What are you doing around supplier diversity programs?    

00:50:43—When will we get satellite imagery that’s high-res and granular enough to see Bill Perkins wakesurfing on Lake Travis?

00:52:34—Close of show