Tim Ellis, CEO and cofounder of Relativity Space, gave the keynote speech at this year’s Demo Day on campus. Tim shared his inspirational journey from working on his projects at USC to founding his company and getting investments totaling up to 140 million in the most recent funding round for his company. He is at the forefront of the space industry, as the youngest advisor to the U.S. White House as part of the National Space Council.
At USC he played a significant leadership role in building and launching the first student rocket close to outer space. From there he brought metal 3D printing into Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, revolutionizing how long it took to build and design rockets. With that experience, he secured funding for his new venture from the likes of Mark Cuban (reached by spamming potential gmail users), Y Combinator batch 2016, Social Capital, Playground Global, and most recently: Bond and Tribe Capital.
Relativity Space builds 3D printed rocket ships with patented large scale 3D printers the company designed. These ships cost less, are less labor intensive, and dramatically speed up the process of testing and getting to space. Tim showed several images of the facility in his presentation, giving us a run through of his most recent pitch deck for raising $140 million. They have tested the rockets over 180 times in safety checks.
Tim Ellis continues to set the bar for differentiating himself and his company. He managed to get government land and money for launch production and testing. This not only further cheapens overhead costs, but sets up Relativity Space for a future of good relations with the government and potential contracts.
Beyond his success, he imparted words of wisdom for any trying entrepreneur. Find good partners, it truly is like a marriage. Hire people, not employees or resumes. Don’t be afraid to try or fail.