We are very excited to introduce you to one of our amazing partners, HE Space, who - without their sponsorship - 8Billionminds would not be where it is today.
HE Space is a leading contracting company specialising in providing managed services and human resources to the international space sector since 1982. Their experience is deeply rooted in our first hand experience, from putting a man on the moon to participating in some of Europe’s biggest space projects - “We make astronauts.”
They employ space experts in the fields of engineering, science, operations, software development and administration and have been ranked the best supplier to the European Space Agency across a range of activity domains (such as Components Engineering, Business Management ad Controlling and Education). Their employees contribute towards every major European space programme - incredible!
HE Space is passionate about people and passionate about space, and that really shows. A big focus of their company is to help individuals improve their professional and personal development as well as their work-life balance by offering first class HR support with a strong focus on opportunities to grow and develop. They are an active member of the worldwide space family and are constantly growing.
Being socially responsible is also very important to HE Space. In 2009 the HE Space children’s foundation was created ("to raise up an astronaut!’) which supports and implements education, health and welfare projects all over the world. Since inception it has run 72 projects in 36 countries, including allowing children in Guatemala access to education as well as students getting access to real space data from a Eumetcast receiving station. Amazing.
2022 sees the 40th anniversary of the company, which is being celebrated with a special agroforestry project, Trees 4 HE Space, which will help our planet stay green and support local farmers in South America and Africa. HE Space has also been awarded a multi-million Euro contract by ESA to deliver a new flagship climate coordination office.HE Space is also passionate about expanding women’s opportunities for leadership and increasing their visibility in the aerospace sector, which is why they co-founded Women in Aerospace Europe (WIA-E).
We are so proud to be supported by such an amazing company!
Our founder, Sam Naef - a former NASA research scholar - has worked with HE Space in the past and they have always been supportive of our mission to create a new education system through our online learning platform, providing us with our first sponsorship back in 2020. Speaking about 8BM they said "It’s a hugely exciting project to provide global education that we are proud to support!”
HE Space have now extended their sponsorship with us to help us through to beta launch of our platform and we are incredibly thankful for their continued support to help bring 8BM into the world, especially during such an integral time in the 8BM project.
"Thank you so much to HESpace, who have believed in our mission to create this new education system for the world. Our volunteers work tirelessly for free, but there are still many tech costs which HESpace have helped to cover. My experience in having a space career too has only cemented the general feeling that HESpace is the best space recruiting agency out there! Thank you so much for supporting 8Billionminds!" - A message from Sam Naef, 8Billionminds founder
If you would like to find out more about what HE Space does, visit their website. You can also see regular updates and news items on their LinkedIn page.
Have you got the necessary skills to help out the space community? View current vacancies HE Space have available across Europe here!
How does someone who knows nothing about being an entrepreneur or technology, and has no money, create a global online live learning platform?
This is the story of how Samuel Naef, 8BM CEO and Founder, built 8billionminds and overcame the setbacks he faced along the way to get the online live learning platform ready to launch in 2022.
Back in 2011, the idea of connecting everyone online to speak and learn from each other was pretty radical.
Sam had recently finished his Physics degree at Sussex University and started privately teaching. He quickly saw how one-to-one lessons were able to transform his students lives as well as his own and he was able to inspire, motivate, connect-the-dots, and give specific direction to his students, but he also grew in confidence from teaching. He discovered the areas where his knowledge had room to grow as well as enjoying the social connection teaching brought.
Sam wondered how he could scale this up and bring 1-to-1 learning to everyone across the globe, without money being a barrier.
From this idea, iSKILLu was born - a platform that would connect people to teach and learn from each other, offline, via trading time-credits on the platform.
Sam teamed up with his friend Charlie (a software developer), leveraged free online software packages, and several months later launched iSKILLu to a crowd in Brighton of a few hundred with live drummers, funk bands and DJs. Computers at the launch party enabled people to sign up. However, very soon it was realised that the site was not up to the task of mass-use due to many bugs and a difficult user experience.
During this setback, Charlie fell ill, so after several months, in 2014, Sam decided to start outsourcing to developing countries, in combination with a Brighton-based development company to improve the code, funding it all at his expense.
Sam tried to bring investors and funding bodies onboard this edtech startup but often they wanted to see evidence of iSKILLu working before helping - the typical catch-22 for startups. This left him feeling a bit burnt out from the whole process, leading him to travel to India to find a reliable web development company and to have some time off to recharge.
After a few months in India, Sams passion and energy returned. He shot a crowdfunding video from a mountaintop in Hampi with the goal of requesting 3000 from his friends and family to finish the site. On a 52 hour train ride, he edited the video, launched the campaign, and successfully raised all the money - with the help of these amazing supporters.
Over the next few years, Sam went through multiple entrepreneurial programs such as The Princes Trust, School for Social Entrepreneurs and Unltd, helping him to grow his entrepreneurial mindset and efficiency.
Finally v2 of the site was ready, and testing began, but unfortunately the online live learning platform was still far from what Sam had imagined.
In 2017, the difficult decision was made to start again from scratch. Sam realised that peoples expectations of websites were high and that the tech needed to meet these expectations was beyond his ability or time capability. He started to build up a large team of volunteers to help him on his journey to build the worlds first online live learning platform.
During this time the concept of iSKILLu had also developed. It morphed into focusing on online lessons rather than offline and was simplified by removing time credits. As a result it replicated Couchsurfings system where people would give and take to one another depending on their profile and reviews.
By 2021 the team of this edtech startup consisted of over 30 volunteers - developers, designers, animators, economists and community builders - from around the world 8BM also received its first sponsorship from HE Space, you can read more about our amazing sponsor here. Throughout this time Sam has balanced working on 8BM with going to the International Space University, working at NASA, Airbus and travelling the world extensively.
In 2020 he also founded The Climate App, which aims to build a movement of climate action to protect the planet from climate collapse. The Climate App has been awarded several entrepreneurial awards, and has raised over 130,000 to date.
Sams goal of building a free 1-to-1 online live learning platform has never wavered, despite all the complications of tricky technology and being reliant on volunteers.
However finally 8BM is ready to launch and to start giving impact to people globally! So join an inspiring community of individuals teaching, learning and sharing their knowledge with each other everyday.
Sign up to the mailing list to be the first to receive updates about launch of our online live learning platform: www.8billionminds.com/subscribe
Sam Naef (8BM founder), Emma Vartdal (Community Building Lead), Lydia Rayden (Community Builder)
Imagine if every person on the planet was connected and incentivised to speak, learn and share with each other face-to-face online.
There would be 3 main benefits:
1) Increased real education; i.e encouraging curiosity, independent thought and face-to-face interaction
2) Increased and improved social groups; i.e increasing the number and diversity of people that someone can interact with on a daily basis
3) Increased accessibility and opportunity; i.e ensuring people, and thus their knowledge, are truly accessible to everyone else, and thus reducing worldwide inequality
These points are explored in greater depth in the following 4 paragraphs, with a proposed solution after.
Most of us are not content with the current education systems. I personally don't think that my potential has ever been realised throughout my schooling. It felt more like spoon-fed information and keeping children out of trouble, rather than real education. Real education does not happen via a single teacher in a single room. Real education happens when you explore, meet new people, share stories, experiences and develop in a multitude of locations with a variety of 'teachers'. Education is exploring, having the freedom to fail, to then self-improve, while keeping your curiosity intact. It is not cramming for an exam or being spoon-fed, and it certainly isn't not testing your knowledge on the real world. Often school seems to beat out our instinctual curiosity in life, which Ken Robinson so brilliantly describes in his TED talk 'schools kill creativity'.
Adding to the general poor education we face, I believe that many of the world's problems come from 'sticky social groups' i.e when people stick to social groups similar to their own. This prevents them developing their understanding of others - limiting their empathy - which can lead to tendencies such as fear, hate, violence, far-right extreme views and war. Throughout history, and in most parts of the world there will always be 'groups' or 'tribes' of people of certain types that have prejudice against others. Most of the reasons for why this happens usually boil down to poor education, which can be amplified by a lack of exposure to others at a young age, and indoctrination from parents or politicians. At the heart for why people are prejudice is a perceived fear for their own personal safety - in which I believe education helps to alleviate. That is why education is so key to reducing conflict.
If, across Europe, say each individual has frequent interactions with people from say Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan etc, then perhaps we wouldn't be at so many wars, and we would look after our fellow beings more - especially the most desperate people such as the migrants crossing the mediterranean sea.
Not having a good education sadly affects most of the world. The dire consequences of these are of course vast: fear, miscommunication, and naive actions ... resulting in criminal activities, war, violence, and destruction to our planet. Consequently, we need a global education system which is truly accessible to everyone. The increased diversity and number of connections that each person can make with others around the world, the better the education, and the better the world is for all of us.
What does this new education system look like?
Imagine an ethical Facebook-like site, but for live-learning sessions. Where you are actively encouraged and supported to connect with new people. Where instead of browsing cat videos and getting lured into commenting about frivolous material, you are learning, being inspired, hearing amazing stories, and having unique insights into other people's lives -- and it is all tailored to you! Via this platform you are also learning how to share your own life, which increases your self-worth, your confidence - realising what you do and don't know, which helps you to improve your self-understanding and future prospects. Furthermore, the platform would improve your curiosity in who and what to speak or learn about next, all while improving your independent thought through having stimulating conversations.
To ensure true accessibility of people's knowledge, traditional money could not be used as the inequality is too vast around the globe to include everyone. Consequently, a time-based system would need to be used, in which people trade in time. When you share, you earn minutes. When you learn, you spend them. Simple.
Imagine the possibilities for what you could speak, learn or share about with people globally. The possibilities are truly endless as the human mind is as vast as the universe.
Fortunately, a group of volunteers have been working on this solution for the past few years, and it is almost ready to launch.
Along with 15 volunteers, we have created the first version of the site which will launch on 28th May. All we need now is for you to try it, and to help us grow it into this beautiful vision. Please support us along this journey. It won't be easy, but the most important things never are!
We hope you will delve into fellow minds with us and reap the benefits!
Author: Samuel Naef