“I’ve always been fascinated by how people take ideas and turn them into something beyond just an idea”, says Lon Levin, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin subsidiary GEOshare, and co-founder of XM Radio and the MILO Space Science Institute. Levin is also interested in how people make money from their ideas and get strangers to back them. “It’s always fascinated me”, he says, “all the systems, all the processes, all the legalities… I’ve been very lucky because it’s also been the cornerstone of my career”. ROOM’s US editor Amanda Miller chatted via Zoom to Levin about creativity, good ideas and entrepreneurialism in the space industry.
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
I think sometimes people misinterpret what entrepreneurs are. The biggest misunderstanding is that they’re crazy risk-takers who risk everything they have; that they don’t even think about process - they just go for it. But that’s just not accurate. All good entrepreneurs are relatively disciplined and most of the success stories are from people who understand this and can manage risk.
Really what an entrepreneur is, is someone who can take an idea and, regardless of what resources they have committed, build on the resources they have and manoeuvre towards a conclusion. It’s about managing risk. In fact, if you knew me, you would know that although I do take considerable risks, they’re always calculated.