Rocket Dreams and Startup Scenes: Journey to the 1517 Fund Summit “Friday Night Dyson Spheres”

James Lowman in front of the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center

James and Rakshit of Cauchy Analytics’ were invited to attend the 1517 Venture Fund summit in Cocoa Beach, Florida, by their good friends at Ceragen (Danielle and Matthew, who 1517 has invested). The entire weekend was full of wisdom, inspiration and motivation, with a backdrop of the windswept beaches of Cocoa to the towering rockets of Kennedy Space Center. The experience left an indelible mark.

1517 – a fund that supports “drops, renegade students & sci-fi scientists” represents a vibrant, forward-thinking ecosystem of startups and disruptors. The culture of the summit resonated deeply with Cauchy, with 1517’s focus on backing innovators and dreamers.

Day one was a whirlwind of networking, absorbing lessons, and sharing visions. A highlight was hearing the founder of Luminar speak – 1517’s first investment to reach IPO, a true testament to their belief in backing founders. We were equally enthralled by the insightful conversation with Kiko Donchev, the VC of Launch at SpaceX. James and Rakshit spent hours with him at a Tiki bar, sharing drinks and views on the future of space travel. Kiko is an expert at the same first principles thinking Cauchy employs, and it was amazing to hear him break down our problem from top to bottom (and encouraging to see how he touched on many of the same conclusions we are building into our product).

James Lowman and Rakshit Shetty in front of the Shuttle Atlantis

The second day was akin to walking through a sci-fi novel come to life. Held at the iconic Kennedy Space Center, we heard from space-based startup pioneers and visionary speakers such as Ester Dyson. Her influence and insights spanned many lifetimes. The day was punctuated by a thought-provoking discourse from a poet who highlighted the importance of large societal projects that inspire – like the space projects of today. Walking around the rocket garden and the Apollo and shuttle exhibits, it was surreal to be surrounded by these monuments to human innovation.

The final day brought us face-to-face with the 1517 Fund managers and inspiring startup founders. The office hours provided valuable insights, advice, and encouragement, deepening Cauchy Analytics’ connection with the ecosystem.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to Michael and Danielle of 1517 for the warm conversations and for welcoming us into their world. We were inspired, challenged, and left with a deep sense of purpose and direction.

The 1517 Venture Fund summit was not just an event, but a catalyst. As we return to our daily tasks at Cauchy Analytics, we bring back invaluable knowledge, deeper connections, and an invigorated spirit.


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