The Business of Space Interview Series

What Is the Background of PZ Top Management?

Founder and CEO: Dr. Norah Patten is a faculty member at the International Space University and founded Planet Zebunar to draw on extensive Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) experience. Norah has a BEng in Aeronautical Engineering and a PhD in Engineering.

In 2016, Norah participated in the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Program, funded by Enterprise Ireland. She was a recipient of the Emerging Space Leaders Grant and a Next Generation Plenary panellist at the IAC in 2015. Through a partnership with NanoRacks, Norah initiated and managed ‘The Only Way is Up’ project in 2014 which launched Ireland’s first student experiment to the International Space Station. She has industrial experience from The Boeing Company and Bell Labs Alcatel Lucent, is a regular speaker at public events, and has featured on national television and radio. She was listed by Technology Voice as one of Ireland’s top 38 women in technology in 2015.

What Is PZ Core Product or Service?

Planet Zebunar is an innovative brand of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) products designed to inspire and motivate our target market; 7-10year olds; to engage them in a fun and interactive way. We combine offline and online technologies to engage the different ways that children play and learn. Our products are inclusive, educational, exciting and are built on a foundation of real STEM.

Planet Zebunar meets a growing demand for well constructed and well researched STEM products for children. The foundation of Planet Zebunar has been crafted so that it is quickly scalable and offers a wholly immersive experience, with content offered across multiple channels including YouTube and through our own Planet Zebunar app. Planet Zebunar is the next generation of STEM products.

What Is PZ Unique Value Prop to Their Market Sector?

This market is quite fragmented with many of the current STEM products for children offering a limited user experience. Planet Zebunar is a purpose built STEM brand; the products are inclusive, non-gender specific and offer an immersive experience through the combination of offline and online technologies. We have strong brand ambassadors and have built the foundation of Planet Zebunar by engaging with our target market, customers and relevant professionals.

How Does PZ Disrupt the Competitive Environment of Its Market with Its Product/Service?

Looking at the competitive landscape, many of the current STEM products tend to be either (i) miscellaneous/one-off products or (ii) gender specific or (iii) science lessons that look like they’ve been created by teachers for teachers. Planet Zebunar disrupts this environment in a few ways.

We spent almost 18 months working on the development - carrying out various focus groups and brainstorming activities and integrating feedback to iterate from the product concept to product prototype development. The result is that we have developed more than just a product – Planet Zebunar is customer and user focused. The products are inclusive, fun and educational, they are purpose built and quickly scalable. Our mission is to develop a community of STEM enthusiasts and inspire the next generation of leaders and doers.

Growth Objectives over the next 5 Years?

We are launching Planet Zebunar this year (2017) and over the next 5 years our objectives are to break into the English speaking export market and increase our product range. We are also currently in the process of raising finance and over the next 5 years we will be seeking additional funding to help us scale quickly. The overarching objective of Planet Zebunar is to engage many children in STEM and highlight the career opportunities and importance of critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills.

What Competitive Changes Does PZ Envisage with the Market over the next 5 Years?

There is a continued expected growth of STEM products over the next number of years and Planet Zebunar is ideally placed to meet this demand. Parental interest has grown in making sure that children get more from playtime than just entertainment. One key reason for this is the long-term trend towards smaller households. Couple this with the increase in commercial space activity and also the access to the International Space Station, Planet Zebunar will leverage those opportunities to give us a competitive edge in the market place.

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Dipa Roy

Very interesting venture. Great effort. Very well done Norah!

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