Neil Patel

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Getting early-stage funding in the aerospace industry is highly challenging for startups. Although this sector is quickly gaining traction because of its disruptive nature and innovations, investors may hesitate to invest.

Traditional venture capital firms have limitations because of their accountability to investors and the need to profit from their investments. Typically, the aerospace segment is capital-intensive and high-risk, making it harder for new companies to get backing.

For this reason, founders must approach angel investors and VCs that operate specifically within the vertical. These entities will have in-depth knowledge and expertise about how the industry works. As a result, they will likely be more open to funding startups.

Their familiarity with the sector also helps them recognize the immense potential these startups demonstrate because of disruptive technologies. New tech that has the potential to transform the landscape can also generate rich profits and returns down the line.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Future Prospects of the Aerospace Industry

A quick overview of the stats available about the US aerospace and defense (A&D) sectors shows a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.76% from 2024 to 2029. In dollar value, that translates into an anticipated growth from $496.56B to $$656.93B.

Within the next two years, from 2024 to 2026, you can anticipate a CAGR of 8.5%, with the market reaching the $1047.07B mark in 2026. This sector will also create jobs at the rate of 6% from 2021 through 2031, the highest in all industries. That’s because of the high demand for trained aerospace engineers.

Interestingly, in the coming years, the spotlight will be on achieving net zero in aviation by 2050. The commercial market worldwide will invest £4.6T or $4.91T from 2022 to 2050 in the aerospace sector.

The objective is to develop lower-emission aircraft and completely negate the greenhouse gases human activity generates. The market will adopt a three-dimensional approach to achieving these objectives such as:

  • Building aircraft with a stress on hydrogen, battery, and fuel cell technologies will result in zero-carbon tailpipe emissions. This annual market represents 41% of the total market globally and £91B or $113.67 in 2050.
  • Building super-efficient aircraft with a focus on ultra-high bypass turbofan engines. Lowering the weight of aircraft structures and systems is another stress point. By 2050, this sector will claim an annual market of around £64B or $79.94 globally or 29% of the total market worldwide.
  • Building aircraft with advanced air mobility and improved structures that will enable electric vertical and conventional take-off & landing. Unmanned aircraft development is also a core area of investment. This sector will be valued at £27B or $33.73B worldwide in 2050. This stands at 12% of the total global market today.

Startups with Aerospace-Driven Core Competencies Have an Edge

Aspiring founders looking to build a startup in this vertical or raise funding as an early-stage company should be inspired. The aerospace and defense sector broadly encompasses technologies like:

  • Satellite constellations, electric aircraft, and urban air mobility
  • Technologies that have applications for efficiency and sustainability
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that help improve efficiency in operations
  • AI-driven equipment for military and security agencies for surveillance and monitoring
  • AL and ML algorithms for sectors like mining, insurance, energy, construction, and agriculture
  • Drone technology to compile data using aerial imagery and photography
  • Leveraging satellite data to monitor and combat climate change and environmental issues
  • Satellite data analytics to enable informed decision-making and risk mitigation approaches
  • Propulsion systems that are zero-carbon and zero-emission, like electric vehicles
  • 3D-printed rockets and other equipment to speed up production and minimize costs


To get early-stage funding in the aerospace industry, founders must come up with fresh, disruptive inventions and innovations. You should be open to taking risks and developing evolutions in AI and ML that can transform the world.

The approach is to focus on developing your company’s strengths and capabilities to explore current technology. Next, you’ll build a team and skill sets and invest in R&D to innovate. That’s how you’ll maintain that edge over the competition.

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Partnering with Investors Brings You More Than Just Funding

When looking for investors to support your company, you’ll start off by putting together a list of options. Identify entities operating within the aerospace sector as seasoned entrepreneurs or firms experienced in investing in aerospace and defense.

Angel investors or high-net-worth individuals or firms are a great option. They may assist you with not just capital but also expertise. For instance, they could make available a team of technicians trained in building prototypes.

Once the MVP is ready, you’ll start production and generate profits and returns.

This early-stage support can be invaluable in getting the startup off the ground. Angel investors also support projects that interest them, either for their innovative ideas or mission statements that appeal to them.

If your company has ESG objectives, you’ll find the right investors dedicated to the cause.

Regulatory Compliance Checks

The aerospace industry is heavily regulated, and companies must undergo extensive auditing to get certifications. The objective here is to ensure safety, high performance, reliability, and top-notch quality controls at every stage of the supply chain.

Since most products are software-driven and part of an intricate framework, cybersecurity issues also come into play here. Seasoned investors can direct you to and help you acquire the certifications to keep the company running.

For instance, ISO 45001 Certification — Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS) ensures that employees working on the premises are secure.

The ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) Standard certifies minimum wastage of scarce resources, and being environmentally responsible is mandatory.

As a new founder, you may also need guidance with safety protocols for the products you develop and navigating licensing. Assistance like this can help you avoid potential pitfalls and get the startup up and running quickly.

Minimizing Risks Through the R&D and Manufacturing Cycles

Since the aerospace industry relies on R&D, getting results has no fixed timelines. Startups may need high infusions of capital before they can start to demonstrate results. It’s not uncommon for new ventures to run into technical difficulties that stall the innovation process.

At this point, founders need seasoned tech experts familiar with the product line they’re developing. Partnering with the right investors could be an advantage because of the access to expertise within their network.

Angel investors are dedicated to their investment’s success and could go the extra mile to offer support and assistance. This support can be critical since technical challenges are not the only risks aerospace startups face.

Some of the key risks include finding and retaining talented engineers with special expertise in the vertical. Supply of top talent is notoriously short in this sector. Founders must also contend with supply chain issues when it comes to sourcing inventory and components.

Other risks that can delay production and delivery include Intellectual Property ownership issues, quality management, and political instability. Experienced investors are likely to be familiar with these snags and the delays in revenues resulting from them.

Keep in mind that storytelling is everything in fundraising. In this regard, for a winning pitch deck to help you here, take a look at the template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

Accessing Networking Opportunities

The right investors can ensure access to networking opportunities that are a must-have for founders. Look for connections and relationships you can build at networking events, conferences, and seminars. That’s a great first step when looking for early-stage funding in the aerospace industry.

These meets can result in strategic partnerships and collaborations that can later lead to investment opportunities or M&A deals. You can connect with angel investors, incubators, and accelerator programs to access these opportunities.

While getting into these programs is challenging because of their stringent screening processes, successful founders can leverage robust launch pads. Think connections with satellite operators, renowned airline companies, avionic companies, and more.

Some of the best networking events you can get into include the IEEE Aerospace Conference, SAE AeroTech, and Space Symposium. One of the largest seminars for aerospace engineers is The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Make it a point to attend these events for the opportunity to connect with like-minded engineers looking to build startups. Partnering with the right people not only gives you access to rare talent but also opens doors for raising capital.

Don’t forget to research local events in your city and state, such as educational workshops, university projects, and community meets.

Government Grants

Several government grants and contracts are now available to support innovative projects within the aerospace and aviation sectors. Reach out for early-stage funding in the aerospace industry to organizations like:

  • NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program supports technological innovation in several industries and aerospace is one of them.
  • Small Business Innovation Research program that backs small startups running high-impact research projects. If your project aligns with NASA’s mission and goals, that’s the core qualification criteria.
  • The FAA’s Aviation Workforce Development (AWD) program offers capital to any projects that promote aerospace education. Like, for instance, flight simulators, aircraft pilot training, and aviation maintenance courses.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) FAA has grants for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). These grants are designed to improve airport infrastructures.


When you’re looking for capital, understand the types of investors for startups and how to align the right type with your needs. Not sure how to do that? Check out this video I have created.

Venture Capitalists Offering Early-Stage Funding in the Aerospace Industry

Although venture capitalists are typically more risk-averse, several big players operate in the aerospace and defense sectors. That’s because VCs also focus on projects with high growth potential and valuable Intellectual Property.

Markers indicating substantial revenues and robust market traction can also attract VC interest. In recent times, as military spending ramps up, commercial flights in space have become a viable opportunity. This prospect is encouraging higher investment in the sector.

Some of the top names to consider in 2024 include:

  • Y Combinator supports startups across all verticals
  • Promus Ventures
  • Soma Capital
  • True Ventures
  • JetBlue Technology Ventures
  • Airbus Ventures
  • Lux Capital
  • SpaceFund
  • Boeing HorizonX Ventures
  • Space Capital
  • Acorn Growth Companies
  • Khosla Ventures

Aerospace Incubators and Accelerators

Incubators and accelerators are valuable sources of not just capital but also serve as excellent launch pads for aerospace startups.

The Y Combinator is easily the best-known organization that supports startups across the board. But, if you’re specifically looking for early-stage funding in the aerospace industry, you’ll look at Starburst Accelerator.

This organization focuses solely on the aerospace sector and operates out of locations like Montreal, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. It also has offices in Singapore, Munich, and Paris.

Starburst does not take equity. However, it might require compensation in the form of a success fee and a small percentage of the contract the startup snags.

Starburst primarily supports startups developing products to streamline air traffic management, drones, security, and software. Any specialized materials that can enhance local transport services are also of interest.

Lightspeed Innovations is another startup accelerator program that has been operating out of San Diego since 2015. This organization screens viable aerospace startups and connects them with investors. Lightspeed supports small businesses working in sectors like drones, robotics, and computer vision.

Other areas of focus include biology, virtual or augmented reality, artificial Intelligence (AI), and assisted intelligence. As for compensation, the accelerator operates similarly to Starburst and charges a success fee. Investors like Airbus, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing have partnered with Lightspeed.

The Takeaway

The aviation and defense sectors are highly lucrative, and several opportunities are arising for growth and innovation. As new startups are emerging with disruptive concepts and the potential to develop technological advancements, investors are stepping up.

Capital and funding is ramping up in these sectors. This makes 2024 the ideal time to look for early-stage funding in the aerospace industry, which is undoubtedly set to grow exponentially in the coming years.

Funding is now available not just from government grants but also from venture capitalists, angel investors, incubators, and accelerators. You can leverage the capital and additional support to grow your startup quickly.

Also, bank on networking opportunities, access to industry-specific expertise, guidance with regulatory compliance, and much more.

Start by researching their approval criteria and specific sectors they support, and start building a pitch deck.

You may find our free library of business templates interesting as well. There, you will find every single template you will need when building and scaling your business completely for free. See it here.


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Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call

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