Category Archives: crowdfunding

Ductor 1.1: Business as usual
(=no business)

Since my last piece about Ductor Corporation (registered also as Ductor Oy, Ductor Ab, Ductor AG, Ductor Ltd and other names) the company made several strange moves. Known in the finnish business press as an enterprise “to invest in, if you want to lose your money with near certainty“, it informed about a new investment round of 2 million Euro.

While that it is hardly new for an enterprise which took in “stupid money” investments of over 30 million Euro to develop a crackpot’s idea into a working product (offended by my wording? read Vol. 1), this time the first public announcement came after the round closed. But they nevertheless tried to make it look like a “successful public round”.

When I wrote about Ductor in July 2020, the round wasn’t there on Springvest’s website. This was also witnessed by the usual investor blogs, which told about the rounds before and after (Medixine and Multitaction), but not Ductor’s. Furthermore, the company claims the round had been active for 5 days only. Normally, these rounds last several weeks.

We can update our information to 2020 with the numbers Ductor released now.
Investments to date: 32,6 million (30,6M+2M); 2/3 from small shareholders.

Ductor is again predicting enormous revenue for the ongoing fiscal year and beyond, but this time, a new red banner appeared which warns explicitly that these numbers are as much phantasy as they are phantastic. This banner hasn’t been there before my July blog posting, where I criticized this practice.

This may well be a coincidence, as well as this whole mysterious “retrospective” investment round. But there is yet another coincidence, that appeared after I blogged about this enterprise.

Ductor Corp. has “updated” their 2019 balance twice since then. One of the updates – and that is quite unusual – contained an English translation of the auditor’s report.

This doesn’t counter a single character of my criticism, as it says straight that the balance is prepared under Finland’s accounting law, which is different from the rules in the countries where Ductor has moved its risks.

Adding to the bizarre story, this statement was audited and signed by Ernst & Young (now EY), which has been since under fire for providing the world with the worst (but most entertaining) auditing scandal in Europe’s modern history. The affirmation of correctness underwritten by an auditor, who can be duped by faked screenshots of bank accounts to sign off multi-billion frauds, counts … virtually nothing.

 

Ductor, Vol. 1: Let There Be Gas

In the last weeks, there has been considerable interest in my blog post from May 2016, where I wrote about strange investments by LifeLine Ventures, managed by controversial investor Timo Ahopelto.

Of these, Valkee is the most notorious here in Finland. Its product, the earlight device which is now called HumanCharger, has become a popular synonym for “scam”. Valkee is technically bankrupt since 2017, has lost it’s last international investors, and was just a few days ago again noted in the press for being listed in the public register of insolvent debtors. Led by Ahopelto for more than 10 years, it is expected to leave the stage soon, but not before adding another 200 indiegogo crowdfunders to the number of 100.000 defrauded customers, who wasted around €200 each for a quack treatment.

uBiome, another declared favorite of Ahopelto and LifeLineVentures’ flagship investment, made devastating headlines in the US. After the FBI raided their headquarters, it turned out the founders – which Ahopelto held in especially high regard – had lied about nearly anything; one even about her age. uBiome filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter, and their assets were auctioned – netting in about 1% from their earlier valuation of $600M.

The story of the third company I listed back then, Ductor Oy, is at least as bizarre as these earlier cases. However, it went mainly unnoticed so far. I try to line out its history, business and financing practices in the first part, followed later by another piece about their “revolutionary product”. Opinions, threats and the usual insults shall be put in the comments section or directed at earlightswindle@gmail.com.

>corrections after publication marked & at the end of the text<

May I have your full attention now, it is absolutely worth it. All details below, as unbelievable they might feel, are taken from the company’s own material and statements of the people involved. All is linked directly to sources. If there’s any speculation from my side, it’s noted in the text. Here we go.

 

Founded by “Jesus”

Ductor was founded in 2009 on orders from God. This can be directly inferred from the circumstances described on the Facebook page of Veikko Latvala. Ductor’s co-founder calls himself a “healer and seer”, who can cure “migraine, back pain and cancers”.

 

2008 and 2009 saw the publication of two books dictated by God into Veikko’s pen. God dictated even the colour of the book cover, according to Latvala. (The full translation is available here as PDF.) In the end, Ductor’s co-founder even hints he might be a reincarnation of Jesus, because a “Holy Man” is sent to earth every 2000 years.

While God was still dictating the second book (to becompleted in spring 2009), the farmer Latvala founded Ductor together with Ari Ketola. Ketola has changed his name to Ari Mokko in 2020. The company entered the finnish trade register in February 2009 (no. 2009/613158).

 

Latvala was Ductor’s chairman from 2009 until 2012, when he handed the position over to the CEO Ari Ketola, a faithful follower of the prophet. Latvala then assumed the role of Ductor’s director until June 2019. Ductor’s investor material from 2017 (PDF) says, that Latvala was responsible for R&D and product strategy.

According to archived versions of Ductor’s website, Veikko Latvala is an “inventor” and “the original founder of the Ductor idea”. He resigned from the board last year (Latvala turns 80 in 2020) but remains the second-largest shareholder.

The third director has been Timo Ahopelto since 2012, the year LifeLine Ventures started to invest in Ductor. Neither Ketola, Latvala nor Ahopelto have an appropriate scientific or somehow professional background. Latvala was a farmer, Ahopelto helds a Master in industrial management, and the CEO Ketola has only had vocational training as a “merkonomi“, the finnish basic requirement for salesmen. The finnish press picked up these strange directors’ background once in 2016.

 

A sticky vision

The company was probably financed during its early years mainly by Ketola, who had made a small fortune by introducing the ESPRIT clothing brand onto the finnish market.

Ductor today tells about its beginnings (source: Ductor material 2019, p.20), that Latvala and Ketola “analyzed” the problems of the world’s food production and wanted to find biological methods to ensure the planet would cope with population growth. Ketola than organized a “challenge” to scientists at the University of Helsinki, prompting them to find a method which employs microorganisms to produce ammonia – while removing nitrogen from agricultural waste.

I cannot really imagine a situation, where an outsider – especially a textile salesman fulfilling a vision of a farmer-prophet – contacts a leading university’s scientists, “hey we need some fitting science for this idea we had”. Accordingly, the first patents filed for Ductor list only Latvala and Ketola as “inventors”. Only later applications then have names of actual researchers, too.

The prophet’s idea, without a working process, however, was enough to ensure excessive funding in 2012 by TEKES (now part of BusinessFinland) and, as noted before, by Ahopelto’s LifeLine Ventures. This was probably made possible by the first patent application for the “Ductor technology”, filed by Latvala and Ketola in June 2012.

Ductor was awarded instantly a staggering 1,145 million Euro by TEKES, and received an undisclosed sum from LifeLine Ventures. During the following years, public funding granted would rise to a total of 3,7 Million.

1,4 million were granted in 2014 and 2016, when Ahopelto was on the board of TEKES. Here’s the same problematic pattern we’ve seen before with Valkee and other companies.

Despite their involvement with Ductor, its founders made appearances as prophet and apostle – that’s my interpretation of Ketola’s statements. Veikko Latvala was repeatedly cited in the yellow press for his prophecies, in which he predicted, for instance, the end of Finland’s governing coalition in 2014, and the end of the European Union for 2017.

To be fair, he’s widely regarded as a crackpot, although some still adhere to Latvala’s teachings: There is a whole website with his forecasts,of a disciple[*] which published the final message on May 31 2020. It commented on the Coronavirus pandemic and said “you will hear from me again”.

 

Cash flows

Ductor’s main business in terms of generating cash flow have been ever repeated investment rounds. Until June 2019, it’s been over 21 million through direct issuing of shares, crowdfunding, convertible bonds, and other instruments.

 

Several rounds were organized by kansalaisrahoitus.fi (now turned into Springvest). The last offerings I’m aware of have been convertible bonds, partially through a finnish variant of “crowdfunding” in February 2019 ((planned 2,25 million Euro) and June 2019 (3,6 million).

 

Promises and Lies

All investor prospectus material issued for the public rounds reiterates these points:

  • the multi-billion market for Ductor’s biogas solutions
  • the multi-million revenue predicted for the coming fiscal year
  • the technological progress and the growing customer base.

The latter will be X-rayed in my second post. The billion euro potential is something that many startups include in their investor attraction marketing. The exorbitant revenue predictions for the next fiscal year are a Ductor specialty, given that Ductor has made no revenue at all to date.

As an example, here is Ductor’s forecast as of December 2017 from the 2017 prospectus. Projected revenue in orange, the real result until 2019 is marked in dark blue.

In early 2019, the revenue for the already completed fiscal year 2018 was said to be €1,3 million, and for the ongoing 2019 a 75 million jackpot was expected.

 

In the balance for 2018, which was published in July 2019, the 1,3 million had shrunk to €14.000. The prognosis for 2019 was quite volatile through the fiscal year, it was given as 40,8 million in June (down from the 75 million in February).

 

The published balance for 2019 showed €726.000 instead – another 40 million evaporated in half a year. A closer look even reveals, that of this meager result only €17.700 were from sales to other entities than their own group.

To repeat the joke from above: Actual revenue is marked in neon pink.

 

In my understanding, forecasts for the ongoing fiscal year should be somewhat more reliable. Here, investors are recruited with a promise for the upcoming months. This is clearly something else as the extraordinary prognoses for the years to come.

While this may still be somehow in a grey zone, Ductor has also lied directly in more than one prospectus. It’s about the formula which is in all material: In the last 5 years, none of the board members or other leading management

has held a leading position, such as a member of the administrative, management or supervisory body, or has been a member of the management body as such in a company that has filed for bankruptcy, liquidation or reorganization

Timo Ahopelto was chairman of at least one company that filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Optomeditech Oy folded in November of that year, with Ahopelto being chairman since 2013, according to the finnish trade register (no. 2018/531107).

I did not check systematically if there are more cases, since the worst (like uBiome) are not on LifeLine Ventures investments page. Such false information can lead to legal action and liability claims.

Ductor had hinted at a possible IPO in 2020, but this did not go further. It would have led to more scrutiny, which inevitably had uncovered such weak points. Instead, Ketola/Mokko has told that a “partial exit” is planned for this year. Hard luck for the new owner.

 

Where’s the money?

Finnish companies are allowed to include all kind of acronyms into their name, also such that resemble those of foreign business entities. A firm could those be called a PLC, Ltd, LLC, Inc., GmbH, AG, or whatever, without being incorporated in the respective countries as such. This is helpful, when a company needs to assume or deny identity to conceal creative accounting or unclear transactions.

Ductor has pulled such a trick by registering in Finland concurrently as “Ductor AG”, like the german and swiss Aktiengesellschaft. According to the swiss trade register (SHAB), it founded a company with the same name in Zug am See in 2018. Since then, it’s called a “swiss-finnish company”. In Ductor’s balances since then, there are assets of several million Euro allocated to Ductor AG and the german subsidiary Ductor GmbH, and other such companies in the rest of the world.

The AG has not filed a balance yet, but the GmbH has done it up to 2018. The german branch has had a debt of 1,4 million Euro, of which 437.000 were not covered by other assets. In other words, Ductor’s balance is in fact not “balanced” as required, when we assume that the GmbH’s debt is to Ductor in Finland, as the finnish papers suggest.

It’s not clear what else is behind this construct, and it’s nearly impossible to get a complete picture from outside of the company. An auditor would need access to internal documents from all continents, which seems unrealistic.

With all that money, it may be possible to make progress and even develop revolutionary methods and products as envisioned by Latvala and Ketola ten years ago. The real outcome of this mayhem, however, will be the subject of my second Ductor post.

In my opinion, one thing can be taken for granted already: Even if Ductor would make profit in a distant future, the finnish tax payer and the crowdfunder-investors won’t get their share. Ductor is prepared.

 

[*correction 8.8.2020: the website in question is influenced by his teachings, but the maintaining person says the prophecies are her own; Latvala made her see these]

HumanCharger: Indiegogo campaign fails, last investor pulls out (update)

Valkee (alias HumanCharger) has had a single foreign investor since 2013: Merieux Developpement, which financed the earlight company together with Lifeline Ventures and the finnish tax payer. As the co-lead investor, Merieux Dev. had its partner Valerie Calenda on Valkee’s board. Until now.

 

According to the trade register, Calenda has resigned from the board recently. Merieux Equity Partners, which holds the active investments of Merieux Dev., no longer lists Valkee on its portfolio pages. From the french investor’s “regional partners” category disappeared Seppo Mäkinen, former Sitra director, and probably the person who lured Merieux Dev. into this adventure.

 

There is no explanation other than Merieux has backed off and written down its multi-million loss. Now Valkee’s HumanCharger operations are completely controlled by its own folks: the CEO Aki Backman, the inventor Juuso Nissilä, and Timo Ahopelto.

The struggling company had high expectations for their follow-up product to the old LED headset: The HumanCharger Wireless Headset, an ugly and hard-to-wear bluetooth device. It launched an Indiegogo campaign, which looks like a complete desaster already.

 

Featured prominently at reddit/shittykickstarters, people aren’t buying it for half the price.

One backer has left a positive comment, looks like here’s really an impressed user.

 

It’s Timo Ahopelto, the company’s chairman, who felt the urgent need to push his product. Probably it won’t help.

***

UPDATE 7.12.2019:
Valkee’s “HumanCharger” managed to reach 55% of the 30.000€ funding goal on Indiegogo after a month. They added another month and got 40% more, still unable to reach their low aim. They crossed the 100% with the help of two “backers” who sponsored the company with >2000€, not claiming a perk. Probably, these were staffers.

To “reach” the goal made it possible to sell the scam devices still over IGG under the “onDemand” label. The demand is 2-3 devices per week.

These facts are recorded on IGG trackers, like backerkit.com.

Konkurssi raukeaa – Ei se mitään, SpaceNation jatkaa USA:ssa

Avaruuskonkurssiyhtiöstä Space Nation aka Cohu Experience Oy tuli viime kuussa kaksi ilmoitusta. Ensin Privanet kertoi, että konkurssi raukeaa, koska varoja ei riitä edes konkurssimenettelyyn. Tämä ei ole yllätys, yhtiöllä ei koskaan ollut substanssia. Vain heikko bisnesidea ja medianäkyvyyttä.

 

Sitten yhtiö ilmoitti, että sen toiminta jatkaa Yhdysvalloissa. Space Nation olisi rekisteröity uutena firmana. Siitä kertoi sen johtohahmo, islantilainen PR-mies Hjörtur Smárason, joka nimellä PolarExpress myös laittanut Wikipediaan firmaa kehuvan artikkelin.

Outo seikka: “Uusi firma” käyttää entisen suomalaisyhtiön nettisivua, niin kuin se kuuluisi sille. Itse asiassa tämä pitäisi olla osa konkurssipesää, ja on todennäköisesti entisen yhtiön ainoa omaisuus, jolla on vielä jonkinlaista arvoa. Se on edelleen rekisteröity Helsinkiin, Cohu/Space Nationin kotiosoitteeseen.

Yritin löytää “uusi Space Nation” USA:n osavaltioiden kaupparekistereistä, jopa SEC:n listoilta. Tuloksetta. Ei ole varmuutta siis, puhuuko tämä mainosmies totta. Toisesta asiasta olen varma: Heidän astronauttivalepuvuissa ihan jokainen näyttää idiotilta hassulta.

Space Nation comes full circle (updated)

“Space Nation konkurssi” Google suosittelee, kun etsii firmaa sieltä. Tuore tilinpäätös puhuu samaa kieltä.

As promised – here is the 5/2018 balance of “space tourism company” Space Nation Oy (formerly Cohu Experience Ltd) from Helsinki, Finland.

SpaceNation balance 2018 (PDF)

Initial sales from the Space Nation Navigator game app were negligible: Revenue was 4006€ (I predicted 4000). The overall result is a 2,9M€ loss (my prognosis 4-6M).

Of the 5,2 million given by crowdfunders and other private investors last year, 58.000 was left in May 2018. That is probably burned yet, also. The company owed 1,2M to banks and addtional 952K to suppliers. In the books are mainly immaterial rights and contracts – such as the (non-commercial) Space Act Agreement with NASA. No substance.

Now that’s clearly a serious situation, which explains the abrupt stopping of the “Astronaut Training program” in August. The app’s downloads have come to a standstill by October. It’s not far-fetched to expect the app disappear from the Google Play Store and Apple Store within 12 months, as it happened to Cohu Experience’s first app, CarbonToSoil.

In time for Slush 2018, Space Nation seems to come full circle where it started two years ago.

____________________________________________________

UPDATE 19.11.2018:

After diving to €0,80 [ask], Space Nation shares were suspended “until further notice” from Privanet’s stock bazaar. The trade register – neither the company nor Privanet – informs about the probable reason.

Space Nation has issued new shares, possibly to pay expenses, at least 15 times since December 2017. These were now registered on Nov 15. Further diluting previous investors’ shares by 205.000, it brings the overall count to 1.708.793. Thus the theoretical valuation would now be well below €1,4M, but as no deals were registered in the last 2 months, it’s surely closer to zero than a million. Last year, Space Nation had predicted it to be one billion by now.

Space Nation Oy (Ltd), formerly Cohu Experience, has now announced to file for bancruptcy. It managed to burn multi-million investments in less than 2 years.

“Avaruusyhtiö” Space Nation Oy kertoo olevansa vaikeuksissa [update]

Suomalainen “avaruusturismiyhtiö” Space Nation Oy kertoi eilen dramaattisessa ilmoituksessa sovelluksensa käyttäjille [>>] olevansa taloudellisissa vaikeuksissa. Tämä tuli vain päiviä viimeisen postaukseni jälkeen [>>], jossa varoitin juuri tästä kehityksestä.

Teksti muutettiin kun kirjoitin Twitterissä tästä [>>]. Ennen siinä luki we have encountered financial difficulties – nykyversio sanoo sen eri sanoissa

Eli varat ei riitä “astronauttiohjelman” jatkamiseen. Tämä on siksi erityisen vakava, koska astronauttiohjelma oli ainoa lupaava operatiivinen rahanlähde. Tässä vaiheessa kassavirta ei tule muualta kuin sovelluksesta, joka – lievästi sanottu – ei menestynyt*. Se saattaa nyt lisäksi sukeltaa, koska porkkanaa (avaruuslento) ei ole enää. Ainoa optio on nyt lisärahoitus yksityishenkilöistä.

Jo 10-14 päivää sitten jotkut sijoittajat yrittivät myydä osakkeensa Privanetin kautta pilkkahinnalla. Näyttää siltä, että sisäpiiri tiesi mikä oli tulossa.

Muutama päivä ennen Space Nation Oy:n hätäilmoitusta hinta laski jopa 3 Euroon. Tästä poliisi voisi ilman muuta aloittaa esitutkinnan.

On erikoista, että Privanet, joka on laskenut nuo osakkeet firman ohjeistuksesta liikkeelle, ei kerro mitään vielä. Pörsissä tästä olisi pakko tehdä julkinen varoitus. Tämä näyttää taas, että Privanetin asiakkaana olet heikossa asemassa jos sijoituskohteelle käy huonosti [>>]. Tietämättömästi joku voisi ostaa nyt Privanetin “jälkimarkkinnoilta” Space Nation-osakkeet ja ei olisi minkäänlaista mahdollisuutta selvittää, miten firmalle oikeasti menee.

Space Nation ei uskalla antaa uutta aikataulua, mikä on aivan ymmärrettävä, kun lähitulevaisuus on täysin epäselvä. Ja ennenkin firman aikataulut tuskin pitäneet paikkansa. Blogi informoi jatkossakin.

 

*käyttäjämäärän arvio: Google Play Store Downloads 10.000+ (20.8.2018) 4,5 kk jälkeen, eli 10.000 – 50.000 välimaastossa. Vasta Kesäkuussa ylitti 10.000. Alussa lineaarinen kasvu, viime aikana hidastunut. Tästä kertoo arvostelujen määrän kehitys, alkuryntäyksen 200 lisäksi tuli vain 20 enää kk:ssa 08-09/2018. Plus Apple-käyttäjät; 40.000 on siis ystävällisesti arvioitu.

UPDATE 26.8.2018: Kuvankaappaus.
& Joku riskisijoittaja tarjoaa nyt 1,00€ per osake. Antikurssista -93%. Liian kallis?
[EDIT muodollisuudet]

Finnish “space launch” misfired (Crowdsucking pt III)


[see Crowdsucking I and II]

Finnish “space tourism startup” Space Nation (formerly Cohu Experience) is struggling to get traction. Their astronaut training app Space Nation Navigator – which is actually a collection of simple space-themed mobile games – saw little success with the community. Instead of the astronomic user counts which they promised to investors, it hovers around 40.000. And that may be a stretch.

In December 2017, Space Nation forecasted 4.000.000 for today. In reality, they reached 1% of this already down-written prognosis. Even when the app’s late launch is taken into account, it missed the milestone by -90%.

 

The projection above is taken from a presentation for Space Nation shareholders which was circulated some 9 months ago. The company was mugging for fresh money, again collected by Finland’s Privanet Securities Oy.

The material was not for the general public, but it’s interesting because it gives insights into a failed strategy. Download it here: spacenation-investors.pdf.

 

Failed highjacking

A takeover of NASA’s MISSION X campaign was planned for Q4 2017. That would have been a major coup: Mission X reaches out to >100.000 school children worldwide, which would be a perfect (though ethically suspect) marketing base.

It did not happen. The only thing Space Nation took over was the slogan. They plagiated the theme.

 

Especially annoying: With Mission X, kids actually do train. With the Space Nation app, it’s the opposite. Only the least intelligent churnalists could mistake scratching around on a smartphone screen for something related to real astronaut training.

 

Financial turmoil

The planned profit of 84 million Euro by May 2018 evaporated in the corrected forecast. Now the financial result was projected to -2 million. Taken into account the low user recruitment, the real number could be -4 to -6 million. The company hasn’t made their last balance public. This blog will, when the documents become available.

However, it’s 90 million less than promised to their crowdfunders and other investors.

Another investment round, that was officially announced for Spring 2017, was called off without further notice. Space Nation aimed to pocket another 2,8M from the american crowdfunding platform fundable.com. The 625.000 Euro raised in Finland (according to Privanet) could hardly fix anything. The company will need more funding soon.

The stocks issued for €13,67/share in Februar and December 2017 last traded in March at €8 in the Privanet propietary platform. Now they’re offered like foul fish, but nobody is buying them for as low as 4,99. Desperate shareholders now have to stick with Space Nation at any cost.

 

Only one thing may rescue the risky enterprise: Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which is finally at the edge of commercial space flight. The space tourism pioneer could take Space Nation candidates on board – possibly in 2019. Space Nation could win a hard-fought over seat by promising Branson added publicity – but does Virgin need support from a finnish startup that has (quote) nothing than “an app and an idea”?

With the money already raised and the current fees, 20-30 people could go to space without the need for startup bullshit, Slush events, business models and merchandise.

Five years from now, when people think space, they will think Space Nation. (-a finnish entrepeneur)

ps. Like the earlight company Valkee Ltd, Space Nation is a client of finnish PR hazardeurs Netprofile Oy. Bingo!

pps. Valkee is no longer able to purchase such services, unlike Space Nation, which is midways in its Gaussian-shaped carreer.

Will a finnish startup “democratize space travel”?

After failing all previous deadlines, finnish cross-media startup Space Nation Oy (formerly Cohu Experience Oy) is set to launch its long-awaited app tomorrow, 7th April 2018. The best users are to take part in a reality-TV “astronaut boot camp” and, finally, one of them will go to space. At least, that’s the plan.

R3MP

The company promised high profits from the beginning and predicted a landslide success for their app, comparing it to Supercell’s Hay Day and Clash of Clans. But there are striking problems, which remained largely unclear to the crowdfunding investors that made the story possible.

 

The User Base

Gaming apps have different target groups and user base than Space Nation’s “astronaut training” app. Not everybody wants to go to space, and certainly it’s not even worth a try for most. Why should I take part in a contest I can’t win?

Me going to space?

Me going to space?

Space Nation promised several prizes and rewards to fix this. But is there a need for a “NASA-approved game app”?

 

No spaceflight, no TV rights

As I wrote before, there is no space flight in sight that would be available for Space Nation’s wannabe astronaut. Virgin Galactic has been “months away” from its first space tourist flight for more than a decade. SpaceX does not attempt manned flight in the near future, and BlueOrigin seems to be late still.

And what if there’d be really the possibility to send a reality-TV winner to space? That would mean, that space tourism is nothing special or interesting anymore. At a time when hundreds of fare-paying hobby astronauts did already go to space, a Space Nation candidate is just another civilian on a suborbital seat. The only difference is that he didn’t pay for the trip by himself.

 

Nothing won, nothing lost?

The probable course of events will be, that the app will generate some moderate income through in-app purchases. Micropayments will keep Space Nation Oy afloat for some time. The crowdfunders will not get their exorbitant returns, but if they are lucky, their losses may not be 100% of the investment.

The idea of financing a space trip through media rights is nothing new. The blueprint came from MarsOne, which is still existing (but failed). In the beginning, they managed to start a gigantic media hype – but they planned for something extreme, a mars mission. A several minutes suborbital flight, as promised by Space Nation, is not close to that in any way.

One thing seems clear already: Space Nation will hardly “democratize space flight“. That’s as if I’d promise to democratize wealth by means of a lottery. An illusion to keep users interested, as any lottery does by promising life-change through a jackpot win.