Scott Roberts from Explore Scientific
Purpose: A titan in the telescope and astronomy industry, Scott Roberts joins Dustin and Tony for a wild discussion on his history and what’s new today.
Scott Roberts: From a highly varied background to owning his own game-changing telescope company, he has built a legacy that’s cemented his name among the industry. He stays committed to serving success to the public and promoting the industry however he can.
This Episode You’ll Learn:
- Some wild stories about Scott and his diverse background
- What it takes to be competitive in a small industry
- Why astronauts are more incredible than you think
- An inside look at industry practices
- What Explore Scientific is all about
“In a small industry, you have to be entirely focused on the customer.” - Dustin Gibson
“Kids grow up loving exploration, science, and space, but then they hit junior high.” - Tony Darnell
“Success means you have successfully served the customer.” - Scott Roberts
9:25 - Dustin and Scott: The Beginning
Before Scott started up Explore Scientific, and before his many other accomplishments, he used to work for OPT. Scott and Dustin didn’t get along the greatest at first either, but through coordination in the industry and mutual respect the two have bonded over the years to become friends. They bring us in on a scandalous and fun experience with SpaceX and more. People often think of scientists and astronomers as secluded, anti-social beings… Let these guys show you another side.
14:02 - Southern California - Space HQ
With SpaceX headquarters, Mount Wilson Observatory, JPL, Griffith Park Observatory, and more, Southern California is packed with cutting-edge players in the astronomy industry. We get a brief lesson on George Ellery Hale as well; he was a man who excelled at attracting the greatest minds and inciting collaboration for foundational projects such as both of Mount Wilson’s massive telescopes.
20:20 - "Balls of Steel"
Sparked by his viewing of the new Apollo 11 documentary, Scott dives into the moon landing, the astronauts, and his personal encounters with Buzz Aldrin. He’s done several events with Buzz, so he got the chance for some conversation with the legend himself. Given that chance, he did what anyone would and asked Buzz all about the moon. In addition to the actual experience of being on the moon--a trip which he thought he might not come back from, Scott talks about the politics and the realities behind this monumental moment in human civilization. Much of the struggle in these moon landings is unheard of to most people born after the fact, and even to those who witnessed it themselves.
27:17 - Weaving Through the Industry with Scott
Scott has been involved with a lot of companies throughout the telescope industry and has become a household name within that industry. If you’re into astrophotography or telescopes in general, there’s a big chance that you’ve felt his influence at some point whether you know it or not. Be it community forums, marketing tactics, or impeccable customer service, he’s lead the way in a lot of it. This doesn’t mean everything always went according to plan--even while he was at OPT, but the best way to succeed is to adapt, and that’s what Scott is good at.
38:16 - Gaining a Competitive Edge
We must tread boldly, yet carefully when looking to stay competitive in any industry, but especially in smaller industries. If we step too far in one direction or another, we risk things like a lost company vision or lack of control in our own plans. And while small industries can be a bit more forgiving in terms of making a comeback, that also means problems are more noticeable. Scott has seen and experienced enough of the pitfalls and successes of this industry to have a solid understanding of how to proceed through smart moves and innovative designs.
45:02 - Is the Hobby Aging Well?
Comparing astronomy and astrophotography with something like Harley Davidson and motorcycle purchases, we see in that industry that most purchases are being made by older individuals. Is our hobby destined to be the same, lost on the youth and enjoyed by the old? The crew looks at the current state of the hobby and the many factors we grow up with that influence our perspectives on space. We start off in life as very curious explorers, but as we go through our teenage years, social circles, and the educational systems, we drift away from that initial wonder.
52:52 - The OPT Philosophy
OPT is a community-driven company where the ideas come from everyone involved instead of just one or two leaders. From setting up observatories around the world to trotting the globe with telescopes in tow, OPT is determined to bring the universe to the masses and can only get there by cooperating with everyone involved. The company is run by the team rather than the owner.
1:01:08 - The Explore Scientific Guarantee
Scott’s company has some of the most respectable, long-term, and customer-friendly practices of any business in the world. He and his team understand that life happens and that we’re all just trying our best to be happy and partake in our favorite hobbies. Explore Scientific guarantees replacements for their products whenever life happens to any of us. These are the practices, and this is the mindset that should be continually fostered in the astronomical community. We’d be hard-pressed to find companies in other industries that work in a similar way, but one day this idea may spread to all reaches of life.
Like what you listened to? Hate what you’ve heard? Let us know in the comments below!
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