Volume 3

TRAILBLAZER: UNVEILING ENTREPRENEURIAL PATHS

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NAVXCOM & the Future of Communication and Navigation

I recently had the chance to sit down with Matthew Onassis, the co-founder and CEO of NAVXCOM, a new startup making their name known in the space industry through their work on next generation space navigation and communication systems—even obtaining a partnership with NASA. I had the opportunity to ask Matthew about what NAVXCOM is currently working on, what they are planning for in the future, how he has overcome challenges at the company, and any advice he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs. His answers to these questions and our great discussion will be detailed in the following sections.

To kick off the interview and gain an understanding of Matthew and his company, I first asked him about his inspiration behind co-founding and leading NAVXCOM. Matthew explained that, during his time working an internship with NASA, he and a group of fellow interns came up with the idea for the company. He and one other intern, the current COO of NAVXCOM, decided to “take the idea to the next level,” opening up the LLC in June of 2023. Furthermore, Matthew has always been interested in space. Having always wanted a career in the field, he decided to make his own, starting the company and providing opportunities to others who are just as passionate.

I then asked Matthew to go more into depth on the current projects NAVXCOM is working on, including their current partnership with NASA. Matthew described that their main project is about ground based navigation and communication on the Lunar surface—and eventually Mars. Matthew also explained that NAVXCOM is working on other projects like a quantum gyroscope for the US Navy and additional classified projects that he unfortunately couldn’t go into any further detail on. Matthew also talked about NAVXCOM’s proof of concept partnership with NASA, explaining how they are providing them with a “software suite” instead of a physical product. NASA is providing NAVXCOM with rovers and facilities for testing their systems, ensuring that the architecture on the Lunar surface will be able to continuously communicate with the Earth and satellites.

Next, I asked Matthew for insight on his vision for the future of the company. Matthew shared that they didn’t include the word “space” in their company name for a reason. While they are beginning in the space industry due to passion and experience, they are looking to expand their influence to other industries as well. According to Matthew, the space economy is “very small” compared to other segments of the economy, and gets “even smaller if you don’t want to focus on satellites.” While Matthew and his team have a passion for space, they are interested in working anywhere with a navigation and communication correlation.

Shifting gears, I asked Matthew more about the entrepreneurship involved with starting NAVXCOM. I asked him about the process of building his current team and how their individual experiences are contributing to the overall mission. Matthew stated that “building a team is the most important thing.” He further expanded that it’s not always about pumping money into high level executives, but rather finding members who are passionate about your mission and want to grow naturally with the company. After going through 1000’s of resumes, Matthew said ultimately the decision has to “come naturally.” He also explained how some of his previous university advisors are a part of the team, helping to mentor and lead the company into its recent successes.

We then dove into discussing the setbacks and challenges NAVXCOM has faced, as well as how they have overcome them. Matthew said that many of their challenges as a startup are “almost always about funds.” A lot of the setbacks faced stem from not having the finances necessary to do what they want to do. A key part of this is the team building process, one that Matthew believes is very important for the ultimate success of a startup. Due to limited budgets, you can’t have a ton of employees, and it is harder to reach out to those with high amounts of experience, so you need to find the best you can in every situation. NAVXCOM is mitigating this problem by finding investors and applying for small grants that have a high chance of success. 

Finally, I asked Matthew if he had any advice for entrepreneurs looking to make an impact on the space industry. Matthew explained his passion for this by describing how NAVXCOM’s mission is to “make space accessible to everyone.” He hopes that they can enable new companies to participate in lunar activities and join in their ecosystem. Matthew then gave the advice that entrepreneurs should “start as soon as you can. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset and want to do something, all you have to do is go for it, not letting any company or job hold you back. You don’t necessarily need a PhD and decades of experience, but rather a good idea and time to spend on it.” He says that every entrepreneur in the industry should also learn “how to write proposals.” Getting small grants is a great way to fuel your company, and this all starts with the proposals that you ultimately provide. Matthew summed up his answer to this question by urging entrepreneurs, “don’t wait until it’s too late.”

The chance to interview and speak with Matthew was a wonderful experience. Learning about NAVXCOM and their current projects as well as their goals for the future left me inspired and hopeful. I am looking forward to seeing the continued impact they make on the space industry in the future.

 

Sunny Oaks Pet Resort : More Than Just a Boarding Facility

Sunny Oaks Pet Resort is a place where the staff promises your “fur baby” will be treated like their own. Tally and Travis Barber, owners of Sunny Oaks Pet Resort, have lived in Boerne for 20 years, the last 7 spent on the 9 acres directly behind Sunny Oaks Pet Resort. Living behind Sunny Oaks has brought so much joy to their family. This joy sparked a dream of owning the resort, and in December of 2023, their dream became a reality. For the last 6 months, Tally and Travis have worked diligently to make a great kennel even better. A love of animals has always been part of the Barber household with their 4 dogs, a pasture of goats, and a barn of show pigs while their kids were in 4H and FFA. Now, they are just happy to be able to provide quality care, love, and cuddles to the pups staying at Sunny Oaks.

Some backstory on the amazing family that now owns and operates Sunny Oaks Pet Resort; Tally is a Boerne High School graduate who worked for Boerne ISD, most recently as a 4th grade math teacher. Travis, although not originally from Boerne, moved to Boerne as fast as he could and works remotely for a medical device company, helping out at the resort most afternoons and weekends. Their two kids, Madeline and Ryan, are both Boerne alumni from Champion High School and attended Texas Tech University. Maddie is pursuing her degree to be an educator like her mom, and Ryan is majoring in pre-veterinary sciences.

Sunny Oaks offers a variety of services for its furry residents; doggy daycare, boarding, and grooming. At doggy daycare, your pup can make a new best friend and receive the daily care you are unable to provide while working or taking care of other daily obligations. Boarding, perfect for a short weekend getaway or a long trip out of town, includes 3 play times, feeding, and medication distribution to your pups’ exact needs -all for one price, with no hidden fees. They also offer grooming services; however, these are currently on pause as they look for a professional groomer. They are focused on the care and safety of every dog at Sunny Oaks, meaning every dog must have current vaccines. They do supervised group play to help with socialization, but also know which dogs need 1-on-1 playtime for their safety and the safety of the other dogs. Tally and Travis know just how important these pups are to their owners and strive to ensure the best care possible, keeping the pups, their owners, and themselves happy.

When I asked Tally what made her decide to purchase Sunny Oaks Pet Resort, she said, “Soon after moving Maddie became sick. In times of stress, driving home and looking over and seeing people playing with the dogs, made my heart happy.” Eventually, they met the previous owners and asked them to let the family know when they decided to sell the Resort. One day Travis was out getting the mail and ran into the previous owner who at that time informed Travis about wanting to sell. The family jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back since.

With the family being new business owners I was curious as to what have been some challenges they have faced so far. Tally said, “Small business financing, staffing, growing the business, and figuring out ways to make it more profitable without compromising the care for the dogs.” Tally had not realized how hard it is to receive a loan for a small business. When it comes to staffing, her biggest challenge is finding good people who truly have a love for dogs and finding ways to incentivize them to stay. I followed that question up by asking how they are overcoming these challenges. She said they are rebranding from the Sunny Oaks Pet Resort name, reaching out more on social media, being more available to the “pet parents”, and utilizing a one-price model that sets them apart from other boarding facilities.

Tally’s biggest goal for Sunny Oaks has nothing to do with the business but everything to do with customer experience. She wants people to be able to go on these awesome trips and know that their dog is being cared for as if they were home with their “pet parent.” The Barbers want people to feel comfortable about having their pup boarded, not having to worry because they know the people at Sunny Oaks are completely dedicated to the well-being and happiness of their “fur baby.”

Tally has some great plans in place to further improve the experience guests have, such as increasing the height of the fence for better security, adding a splash pad for the pups to enjoy on those hot Texas days, posting on social media platforms so pet parents can see what their baby is doing, dog enrichment activities, a scent garden, and even adding cameras for owners to log in and see their pup playing outside. Another change Tally is looking to make is branching out into cat boarding. She wants the cat boarding to be more than just a metal cage, so she is looking at “cat condos,” where they have 2 stories, allowing the cats to move around and play.

If you are planning a family vacation, have an upcoming work trip, or just need a place for your pup to play during the day, take a look at Sunny Oaks Pet Resort, located off Ammann Road. The resort prioritizes your pet’s happiness more than anything and strives to ensure the “pet parent” has a stress-free experience. My father, Frank Ritchie, and I both will be using Sunny Oaks Pet Resort this summer for our fur babies, Bella and Tex, because we know they will be taken care of as if they were on vacation with us.

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In early 2024, Katie and Melissa came together to co-found Prickly Pair Consulting; their goal being simple; to offer honest assistance with property taxation, with a focus on education and helping clients navigate what they feel is often an intentionally confusing and misleading system.
Recently, Das Greenhaus hosted a Summer Speaker Series open to the Boerne and Kendall County community. Over a three-week period, the featured speakers—Catie Campbell, Rod Collins, and Samuel Riehn—provided the community with education and inspiration over their lunch. From inspiration on how to stand out in a crowded industry, to information on doing business with the Department of Defense, this speaker series saw a wide variety of both topics and listeners.

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Published on: Boerne Lifestyle
Published on: Boerne Business Monthly