Two rocket scientists, a Harvard-educated lawyer and an award-winning entrepreneur are on a mission to ensure that America's military is not left behind by Chinese and Russian technology advances. With the founding of Velontra, the foursome is now hyper-focused on developing innovative solutions to unmanned supersonic and hypersonic challenges—faster, cheaper and better than traditional methods.
"We are a veteran-owned business dedicated to serving our country though we are no longer in uniform," says Velontra CEO and Marine Corps veteran Zachary Green. "We joined together because our team has brilliant rocket scientists who are discouraged by the slow pace and high cost of large U.S. companies.'
Green recognizes how lean start ups with extraordinary know-how can accomplish more than companies mired with bureaucracy. He previously turned a simple idea into an over $30 million revenue company: MN8 LumAware/Foxfire. Harvard-educated mergers/acquisitions and start-up attorney Mark Longenecker joins the Velontra team as a founding member and Chief Legal Officer. "I believe in this idea, and in this team," says Longenecker. " For the past three decades, I have advised hundreds of highly successful ventures. Velontra is different. These brilliant founders hold the key to creating one of the most dynamic, revolutionary companies I've ever seen and for far less costs than existing companies."
Velontra's COO, Rob Keane, is a Force Recon Marine veteran, awarded for valor in combat. Keane brings to Velontra a special operations mindset of "adapt and overcome and do whatever it takes to complete the mission." A graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a Master's of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering, Keane's Marine Corps background and aerospace expertise are invaluable to the company.
He spearheads the team's efforts to develop hypersonic technology orders of magnitude more time and efficient than seen by traditional defense contractors. Keane's real-world experience with propulsion and hypersonics at multiple large defense contractors provides significant insight into what it takes to get a challenging system from a back-of-the-napkin sketch to end- product.
"As a veteran-owned small business we bring unmatched understanding of defense customers and how to meet their needs," says Keane. "We are a warfighter-owned, warfighter-operated company developing technology for fellow warfighters. Plus, this technology has wide commercial applications as well."
Velontra's Chief Technology Officer Joel Darin is one of the nation's renowned authorities on afterburners, an auxiliary burner fitted to the exhaust system of a jet engine to increase thrust.
Darin possesses extensive experience with afterburner design for applications ranging from large military to commercial hypersonic platforms. Darin's previous experience at both large defense prime contractors and small startups has taught him what works and what does not-- at both ends of the spectrum.
"This technology can be developed for drastically reduced amounts of money and time as compared to what's accepted today as the baseline," Darin says. "We are going to design integrated systems instead of just the subcomponents that will then need to be integrated with separate systems designed by other companies. Velontra will design and build the propulsion and vehicle platform concurrently."
This vertically aligned approach, first embraced by Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works during World War II, is what Velontra anticipates will help it become the SpaceX of hypersonics.