Former Disney Channel Star Bridget Mendler Launches Space Startup

Former Disney Channel Star Bridget Mendler Launches Space Startup February 20, 2024Leave a comment

Former Disney Channel star Bridget Mendler can now add CEO to her resume, after co-founding Northwood Space, a startup aiming to create a "data highway between earth and space."

The 31-year-old multi-hyphenate is known for starring in “Good Luck Charlie” and “Wizards of Waverly Place," and for her music, with albums such as "Hello My Name Is…" released in 2012 and "Nemesis" released in 2016. She went on to study at Harvard Law School, then the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is now launching her new startup.

"At @NorthwoodSpace we have our sights on building a data highway between earth and space. We are designing shared ground infrastructure from first principles to expand access to space," Mendler said Monday on X, formerly Twitter. "We have a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s the fun part."

In an interview with CNBC, Mendler said the idea for the company came during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While everybody else was making their sourdough starters, we were building antennas out of random crap we could find at Home Depot … and receiving data from [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] satellites,” Mendler told the outlet.

“For me, why the ground-side matters is because it actually is about bringing the impacts of space home to people,” she said.

Northwood Space

Prior to starting Northwood with her two co-founders, husband and chief technology officer Griffin Cleverly and head of software Shaurya Luthra, Mendler worked at the Federal Communications Commission’s new Space Bureau, where she "completely fell in love with space law.”

“Space is getting easier along so many different dimensions but still the actual exercise of sending data to and from space is difficult. You have difficulty finding an access point for contacting your satellite," Mendler told CNBC.

There is a bottleneck for companies using shared ground stations to transfer data from their satellites, especially for startups or smaller firms that can't invest in their own dedicated ground station networks.

"If you want a dedicated antenna, you have to wait 18 months to get the antenna delivered, installed and built out for you,” Luthra said.

To alleviate that difficulty, Northwood aims to mass produce ground stations, also known as teleports, designed for fast deployment.

"We need an approach so that those companies can get the data down reliably and in the quantities that they need,” Cleverly told CNBC.

The company has already received $6.3 million in seed funding, according to Mendler's tweet, from investors including Founders Fund and Andreessen Horowitz.