Wyvern, a space business, gets 4.5 million and joins YC’s newest batch

A Canadian firm at the forefront of satellite imaging has secured 4.5 million in a seed round of 2.25 million and a pre-seed round of 2.25 million, as well as 2.25 million in government financing. Wyvern is also a part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 batch, focusing on hyperspectral imaging (imaging that catches light across many different wavelengths, including non-visible ones).

I’ve previously written about Wyvern, notably when it took part in the incubator Creative Destruction Lab’s (CDL) academic conference-style demo day in 2019. Beyond the money, the business has expanded to a total of 18 people and hired aerospace industry veteran and former Airbus CTO Christine Tovee. This year, Wyvern will also launch its first satellites into space.

“The next major thing we’re looking forward to is launch,” said Christopher Robson, Wyvern’s co-founder and CEO. “This will be our initial collection of imaging goods,” says the narrator. This is the first step in obtaining some ultra high-resolution hyperspectral data. We won’t see the extremely high-resolution stuff for a couple of years yet, but when it does, it’ll be incredible and game-changing.”

Making hyperspectral photography from space available to commercial clients might unleash enormous savings in current sectors, such as agriculture, which is Wyvern’s initial aim, but it’s also likely to open up potential for totally new companies and industries to develop. Hyperspectral imaging may reveal previously unseen details, such as the chemical composition of the scene it photographs.

MaC Venture Capital, the seed round’s primary investor, saw hyperspectral’s enormous potential from the outset, and Robson told me that it was evident from the start that the firm and new Wyvern Board member Adrian Fenty were a wonderful fit for the fledgling business.

“First and foremost, we clicked straight away,” he remarked. “Both of our squads got along swimmingly. But there was something more about MaC that drew us in: they’d made past space investments and were quite optimistic on the space business. They were incredibly important in that they could link us to a lot of different consumers, investors, and partners via their investments in the area, as well as in some of our client markets.”

Wyvern, which was founded by a group of young entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists, has added Tovee to its strategic advantage. Robson informed me about how a key member of the executive team joined the company.

“Christine has been a member of our technical advisory board for quite some time,” he said. “Through CDL, we also developed a great bond with her. And I believe we just loved working together: Christine and the crew had a great deal of mutual respect. We recognised we needed some type of experienced aerospace sector knowledge on our executive team in order to understand how we might participate in that area of the space business as well. As a result, it’s a terrific complement to the IT strategy.”

In an industry where gender diversity is chronically underrepresented, Tovee joins the firm as yet another female senior executive. Callie Lissinna, Wyvern’s co-founder and COO (who also spoke at our recent TC Sessions: Space event), told me that this has been and continues to be a focus for the company, and that it has helped them in discussions with investors and prospective team members.

“In a lot of our conversations with investors, they would mentioned how unique our team is in the space industry for having a 50/50 gender diverse founding team and around a 66% female exec team as a space startup,” she said. “And that really flows through to our hiring and recruitment: We’ve had students say they really like the diversity on our founding team or in our company. So that seems to be an attractive factor for both talent recruitment and investors.”