A Former Disney Star Just Launched a Space Startup With $6.3 Million in Seed Funding. Here's Why She Did It.

Ready or not, Bridgit Mendler is setting out to disrupt the space industry.

On Monday, the former Disney TV star and pop singer announced that she has co-founded Northwood Space, a startup that aims to quickly and reliably bring satellite data from space back down to Earth.

“The vision is a data highway between Earth and space,” Mendler told CNBC.

According to Northwood Space’s website, the company is creating infrastructure to “accelerate mass adoption of satellite technology.”

Bridgit Mendler. Mike Coppola | Getty Images for Save The Children

Mendler, who is serving as Northwood’s CEO, says that collecting data from space is getting easier along so many different dimensions but that the actual exercise of sending data to and from space is difficult.

“You have difficulty finding an access point for contacting your satellite,” she told the outlet.

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Northwood is tackling this problem by turning towards ground stations, which are the antennas that receive data from satellites, and striving to mass-produce them. The company wants to build ground stations quickly, in days, not months, so that space companies don’t have to build their own or wait for over a year to get the antenna installed and built out.

Just like companies rent server space from Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to avoid the high price tag associated with building their own servers, businesses would turn to Northwood to get data from space without owning or building their own ground stations.

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

Related: Every Company Has the Potential to Enter the Space Economy. Here’s How.

Mendler initially rose to fame as a singer — her song “Ready or Not,” which samples The Fugees’ 1996 classic, has 225 million views on YouTube to date — and with starring roles on Disney Channel shows such as “Good Luck, Charlie” from 2010 to 2014 and “Wizards of Waverly Place” from 2009 to 2012.

Post-Disney career, she earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California in 2016 and a Master’s degree from MIT in 2020. From 2020 to 2024, she was working towards a Ph.D. from MIT and a JD from Harvard Law School, per her LinkedIn.

Mendler co-founded Northwood Space with her husband, Griffin Cleverly, who works as the chief technology officer, and Shaurya Luthra, the head of software. The team has already raised $6.3 million in seed funding from venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund and plans a first test of its technology later this year.

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