A perusal of Kymeta’s news coverage suggests that the launch and growth of this Redmond, Wash.-based satellite antenna company has been one success after another.
The business, which spun out of nearby Intellectual Ventures in 2012, has had multiple rounds of raising capital, reaching nearly $200 million in funding as of April of this year. This summer, Kymeta landed approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and its British counterpart for deploying thousands of antennas and the terminals used with them. The company has partnerships with key international players in the sector.
And the business has the blessing of Bill Gates, an early investor — plus, yacht owners dig the product.
Kymeta founder, CEO and president Nathan Kundtz laughs good-naturedly at the suggestion that he’s made the development of a potentially groundbreaking technology using holographic, electromagnetic metamaterial for connecting to satellites for high-speed internet access look easy.
“There have been internally lots of ups and downs, but shockingly no change in the fundamental thesis [for the business],” said Kundtz. That “is actually not common when it comes to a new technology and new markets.”
Last month, Kymeta successfully tested a mobile satellite internet service called Kalo by mounting one of its flat-panel antennae to the roof of a sport utility vehicle and driving it 7,000 miles across the country. The goal was to test the antenna’s ability to connect to satellites, even in remote places where it’s hard to secure internet access through traditional avenues.
The company and its partners have also deployed antenna-equipped vehicles to the hurricane damaged islands of Puerto Rico and Dominica to provide online connections for relief agencies and others.
“What we have now is ever-increasing demand for mobile communication,” Kundtz said, “without the infrastructure to support it.”
Kymeta announced this week that along with FMC GlobalSat the companies will be providing satellite communication and internet connections to renewable energy facilities such as wind, solar and geothermal sites. It can be much more expensive to connect in remote locations using other devices and infrastructure.
Kymeta’s approach “has huge implications,” Kundtz said. “This technology is a natural way to address connectivity all over the planet.”
Early adopters so far include what Kundtz characterizes as “smaller maritime vessels” and installation on automobiles, namely for government use and VIPs.
But it’s clear that this is just the beginning.
“We have a lot more that you’ll continue to hear about us,” Kundtz said. “2018 is going to be an exciting year, so stay tuned.”
We caught up with Kundtz for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: Redmond, Wash.
Computer types: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Mobile devices: iPhone and iPad
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Outlook and Google News
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “Be intentional. The more that every decision you make is made intentionally the more you can learn and use what you learn to get better. Every moment you spend is an investment in something. It’s hard to make every investment intentionally, but it’s a worthwhile goal. Recently I have moved to a system where I schedule every minute of the day from sun-up to sundown. When I don’t have meetings, the time is allocated to one of a set of priority areas. For each priority, I have a separate to-do list.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “I don’t venture too far from Facebook and LinkedIn.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Just a touch over 20k.
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 53
How do you run meetings? “Different meetings have different purposes (brainstorming, information sharing, tasking, feedback, etc.). Depending on the purpose, the meeting requires a different approach. I try to be intentional about what I need out of the meeting so that I can make corrections if I’m not getting it.”
Everyday work uniform? Jeans or slacks and a button-up shirt.
How do you make time for family? “I really try to keep weekends for family time. I also schedule two nights each week for dinner with the family; I always hope to make more, but two is the minimum.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Checking things off my to-do list is the best medicine for stress — even little things give me a sense of momentum that helps calm my nerves down. To really unplug, though, I like to binge-watch Netflix with my wife.”
What are you listening to? “All manner of punk rock at the gym, but in the car, I like jazz: KNKX (FM 88.5 HD channel 2).”
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “I lean on Google News and alerts to keep me up to date.”
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “Two books going right now. The first is ‘Civilization of the Middle Ages’ by Norman Cantor. My life is technology development. Modern banking and the foundational concepts of capital investments into technology and progress got their start in Europe and England in the 16th century. What came before then, however, created the environment that made that possible. Fascinating stuff.
“And second, ‘Seven Surrenders’ by Ada Palmer. This is the sequel to ‘Too Like the Lightning.’ Think ‘Blade Runner’ meets ‘Silence of the Lambs’ meets ‘Mulholland Drive,’ then add a pinch of French Enlightenment philosophy.”
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “Early riser. It’s always possible to stay late when something needs to get done, but you can’t retroactively decide to come in early.”
Where do you get your best ideas? “I’m a big believer in necessity as the mother of invention. I don’t usually get my best ideas from a place, I get them from better understanding a need.”
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “This is a no brainer. I have never seen anyone with as thoughtful and intentional a work style and environment as Bill Gates.”