We profiled HyperSciences in February, when the team had just successfully completed a launch milestone for a small business grant with NASA. The last time we checked in, the hypersonic drilling company had raised about $5 million as part of an untraditional Reg A offering. By the end of March, HyperSciences rounded out its first major round with $9.6 million from 3,552 individual investors on SeedInvest in the equity crowdfunding platform’s second largest raise to date.
The heart of HyperSciences’ work is its hypersonic propulsion system that can fire a projectile at five times the speed of sound. At its most simplistic, HyperSciences’ hypersonic engine can fire upward to power suborbital space launches (HyperDrone) and point downward to penetrate deep pockets of geothermal energy, for example (HyperDrill).
Rather than going the normal venture capital route, HyperSciences decided to raise from regular people who believed in its vision. The way the company sees it, traditional VC would have likely forced HyperSciences to narrow its mission.
“Reg A lets everyone who cares about our planned hypersonic future vote with their checkbook,” HyperSciences founder and CEO Mark Russell told TechCrunch. “I think that’s important.” Russell comes from a family-run mining business and is no stranger to the challenges of a public company.
“I’ve learned a lot from running ops in the back offices,” Russell said. “Based on our public company experiences, we do like that the SEC Reg A process has a clear path to taking your company to the public markets as the next step in the process.”
With infusions of $125,000 from NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research grant and $1 million from Shell’s Global’s GameChanger program, HyperSciences is happy to bounce between research grants with a boost from the Reg A’s special form of “mini-IPO” in order to maintain its autonomy for the time being.
Russell explained that the Reg A’s intensive SEC process requires a fair level of maturity from a company — and enough capital to jump through all the hoops. “You’re not typically a seller of t-shirts in Reg A crowd financing,” Russell said.
HyperSciences’ next milestone will come in May when the company will demo its drilling tech in a field test for Shell. The company plans to leverage its new funding for additional future field testing, pushing its existing business plan forward and moving toward sustainability.
“Our investors are more like smart ‘crowd VCs.’ They’re generally are pretty savvy and see that we went through a stringent process to get here,” Russell said. “We’ve provided them with enough information to make a great decision.”