Why I Joined SkyWatch

Dan Shaw, Chief Revenue Officer

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined the SkyWatch leadership team. As I evaluated the opportunity at SkyWatch, several themes emerged indicating this was a rare opportunity with a company ready to scale. SkyWatch has a compelling mission, participates in an enormous growth market, has a winning business model, and a strong management team. The timing couldn’t be more perfect; SkyWatch is starting 2021 well-positioned for exponential growth.

Choosing a new career direction can be a daunting process. Coming off a successful and highly public exit, there is some pressure to do it again, to repeat the success. I was both excited by the opportunity to reflect on the journey ahead and intimidated by the weight of the decision. What did I want to do next, and why?

As I began to seriously consider the next step, I kept coming back to a few things that needed to be true for me to take the next leap. Things that would get me out of bed every morning. Things that would make the sacrifice required to be a C-level executive worthwhile.

I am a builder, and I knew that I wanted to join an organization with lots of opportunity to build and create. I was eager to get re-engaged closer to home in the Kitchener-Waterloo technology ecosystem. So, while I had a wish list around size, stage, location, and the like, it’s my belief that there are moments in life where you execute first and strategize second. Making career decisions is one of those times— you can’t possibly know what opportunities exist in the market without first diving into the market. So I met with CEOs, mentors, and recruiters and sure enough, the path became clear. 

I found SkyWatch. Everything seemed to click all at once. SkyWatch not only satisfied the vague preconceived notions of what I wanted to do, but also opened my eyes to an out of this world (pun intended) market opportunity. The conditions are right to build a great Canadian technology company, for all the right reasons. 

This is why I joined the SkyWatch team:

The mission. SkyWatch is a purpose-motivated organization. The company believes that Earth observation (EO) data should be democratized through a single point of distribution, automation via modern APIs, and affordable prices. The more EO data is available, the more use cases emerge, and those use cases really help end users to do great things. EO data can help increase crop yields, better understand animal migration, fight forest fires, or measure the impact of climate change. That’s the higher purpose at work. It’s my belief that people are the most motivated and will do their best work when they’re connected to a higher purpose. Purpose is the most powerful motivator and, if you look at the most successful companies in the world, you’ll likely find they’re driven by a higher purpose. It just feels good.

The market. The EO market is big and growing; $4B today with an 8% CAGR. But what’s even more exciting than sheer size is the dynamics within the market. On the hardware side, EO satellites are getting smaller and more powerful as they follow Moore’s Law, applied to satellite hardware. The cost of putting things into space is measured in dollars per kilogram. So the smaller the satellite, the less expensive it is to get into space, and more are going up each year (many the size of a loaf of bread). There has never been a better supply of EO data to help to support a growing number of use cases. With all that hardware innovation, the current software and data distribution models are dated, fragmented, manual and expensive. The ability to get all that data to market via a modern platform doesn’t exist. What a great opportunity for an innovative Canadian software company to disrupt a large market with a modern solution.

The model. SkyWatch is a data aggregator. The company has forged relationships with a host of satellite companies and delivers EO data in aggregate to the market via the EarthCache™ platform, supporting thousands of use cases across agriculture, forestry, insurance, energy, transportation, and others. An aggregator business model is the best way to serve the market. Customers don’t want to limit themselves to a single satellite provider restricting both the data they can access and the refresh frequency to a single source. Further, integrating with multiple providers is resource-intensive and with so many new satellites entering the market each year, it’s impossible to keep up. In the same way Amazon allows consumers to buy goods through a single site, EO customer needs are best served through a single integration accessing data from multiple satellite providers. This provides the market with a trusted source for all satellite data, automated access via one integration and often the best price.

Additionally, from a revenue leader’s perspective, it’s my belief that aggregator or more broadly network business models are the next killer model. In the same way the cloud enabled Software as a Service (SaaS) business model emerged in the late 90s and became (and continues to be) a powerful way to solve customer problems and create enterprise value, I believe network business models, enabled by the modern API, will follow a similar trajectory. Like SaaS, the early examples of powerful network business models emerged in the consumer space and are slowly transitioning to B2B (think Uber, AirBnB, Shopify, Amazon). 

The management. I had a warm feeling in my belly each time I met with the SkyWatch team. It just felt right. Not scientific, I know, but I have learned to listen to my gut as an input along with more logical information sources. It was clear from the mix of a capable senior leadership team and first class early-stage investors (Bullpen Capital, Golden Ventures, Space Capital, Techstars Ventures, and many more) that the organization has a winning strategy. It has strong financial backing, a world-class product, and the team is immensely passionate and knowledgeable about the market. The SkyWatch team not only participates in the market, but is a group of recognized thought leaders in the ecosystem. They move the market forward. As an incoming member of the senior team responsible for Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success, it was obvious that this is a great foundation from which to build. I was hooked.

So, my journey with SkyWatch begins today. I’m joining the company as the Chief Revenue Officer, and I am enormously excited. The path forward won’t be a straight line, and building a company is really hard. But with an innovative product serving a large market with legacy incumbents and a purpose-driven organization, all the ingredients are there. 


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