Neil Patel

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Gabe Dominocielo, the co-founder of Umbra, has charted an impressive course from his humble beginnings to spearheading a groundbreaking aerospace and defense technology venture which now has the largest constellation of American radar imaging satellites, including the highest resolution commercial satellites in history, raised over $100 million and built a company valued at nearly a billion dollars.

His experiences, from his suburban upbringing he called “true Americana,” to navigating the challenging world of entrepreneurship, have fostered a unique combination of resilience, visionary thinking, and innovative prowess in him.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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Early life

His parents were hardworking individuals; his father was a science teacher, and his mother worked with the disabled for the Special Olympics.

Gabe’s childhood was filled with typical American pastimes like riding bikes and playing in the creek.

First Steps into Entrepreneurship

Gabe was always a bit of a troublemaker, a trait that he believes has served him well in his entrepreneurial journey.

He was sent to the headmaster’s office so much they started calling the headmaster’s office “Gabe’s foyer”

Gabe received a BA in History from California State University at Chico, “Chico State” known for its vibrant party scene, Gabe knew that he wouldn’t fit into the corporate world.

He believed that his success wouldn’t be determined by the University he attended or whether he had an MBA.

Instead, he decided to carve his own path and venture into entrepreneurship.

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First Company

Gabe’s first venture was a state bar-certified lawyer referral service that connected people with experienced lawyers called’s panel members achieved over $1B dollars in verdicts and settlements. The company was based on the idea of advertising on behalf of lawyers for large litigations and then receiving a fee. This experience taught Gabe a lot about business and himself.

Transition to Angel Investing

Gabe dabbled in angel investing and supporting founders but spent a lot of time learning. However, he quickly realized that he was a much better entrepreneur than an investor. His investment decisions were often based on gut feelings and personal relationships rather than diligent analysis.

The Genesis of Umbra

Gabe’s path as an entrepreneur took a pivotal turn during a momentous occasion – his wedding day. Amidst the celebration, David Langan, who had an intriguing proposition. David, who Gabe had known since before high school, presented an idea that was as audacious as it was innovative – a satellite capable of seeing through clouds, at night at resolutions so, high a soda can be visible.

The concept immediately piqued Gabe’s interest. The potential applications of such technology were vast, ranging from meteorology to defense, agriculture to urban planning.

The idea of creating a tool that could provide such comprehensive and unobstructed views of our planet was compelling. To Gabe, Umbra’s unit economics is what made him fall in love with the idea and the technology.

Recognizing the transformative potential of this technology, Gabe decided to join forces with David. Together, they embarked on a journey to turn this ambitious idea of Umbra Space into a reality.

This marked the inception of Umbra, a company that aspires to provide global omniscience through high-resolution satellite imagery and advanced space systems.

Umbra’s mission is not just about capturing images from space. It’s about providing a level of understanding and insight that has the potential to revolutionize numerous industries and contribute to a safer, better-informed world.

From its inception on Gabe’s wedding day, Umbra has been driven by this vision, striving to push the boundaries of what’s possible with satellite technology.

Umbra’s Business Model

Umbra’s business model is simple. They take pictures from their satellites and sell them to customers via the Internet.

They don’t analyze the pictures or use AI; they simply provide the raw data. This approach has allowed them to maintain a lean operation and focus on their core competency, which is high-resolution satellite images.

Not just any images, Umbra’s uses are radar cameras and a method of imaging called Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging; Umbra’s SAR satellites are the highest resolution SAR satellites in space.

Fundraising Journey

Raising capital for a synthetic aperture radar company is no small feat. Dominocielo said: “I would not wish building a satellite constellation on my worst enemy.”

The complexity of the technology, coupled with the high costs associated with space ventures, often makes investors wary.

However, Umbra has successfully navigated these challenges, raising over $100 million to date.

Storytelling is everything which is something that Gabe Dominocielo was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

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

Gabe attributes this fundraising success to key factors: the company’s robust unit economics, new proprietary technology, and the unwavering belief of their investors in Umbra’s vision.

The company’s ability to generate substantial revenue from each satellite image, coupled with its potential to capture hundreds of images per day over high-demand areas, presents a compelling financial proposition and the best unit economics in satellite commercial remote sensing.

This, combined with the investors’ trust in the transformative potential of Umbra’s technology, has enabled the company to secure the necessary funding to fuel its growth.

Looking Forward

As Gabe looks to the future, he envisions a world where Umbra’s mission is fully realized – a world where high-resolution satellite imagery is leveraged to create a safer, more informed society.

Gabe firmly believes in the potential of Umbra’s technology to contribute to global safety and security.

By providing detailed, unobstructed views of the Earth, Umbra’s satellite imagery can offer valuable insights that could potentially prevent wars and mitigate other global crises.

For instance, real-time, high-resolution images could provide early warnings of military mobilizations, enabling preemptive diplomatic interventions to encourage world peace.

Moreover, Gabe envisions Umbra’s technology being used to address a wide range of other global challenges, from monitoring climate change to aiding disaster response efforts.

By providing a clearer view of our world, Umbra aims to empower decision-makers with the information they need to create a safer, better future.

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Gabe’s advice to his younger self and other aspiring entrepreneurs is to make mistakes but make them short.

He believes that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and move on quickly.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to learn more about more, including:

  • Dominocielo’s journey from a suburban upbringing in Santa Barbara, California, to the world of entrepreneurship
  • His initial legal venture, RepresentYou, and the lessons learned from it
  • The inception of Umbra and its revolutionary high-resolution satellite technology
  • His unique approach to business, team building, and fundraising
  • The future of Umbra and its potential impact on global understanding and safety


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