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Disney Star Bridgit Mendler is Now CEO of a Space Tech Start-Up 

Ready or not, here she comes.

Credit: Shutterstock/ s_buckley.

Twenty years since her acting debut, Bridgit Mendler has co-founded Northwood Space in El Segundo, California. The start-up seeks to mass produce satellite ground stations, also known as teleports. 

‘The vision is a data highway between Earth and space,’ Mendler told a CNBC interviewer. ‘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.’ 

Northwood targets companies trying to communicate with satellites in Earth’s orbit but unwilling to build their own teleports. Outsourcing antennas from the start-up promises greater efficiency and lower costs, saving months of brain power. 

Major VCs Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz and Also Capital pledge $6 million in backing. 

Mendler enters the space tech sphere with co-founders Griffin Cleverly and Shaurya Luthra. Credit: Northwood Space website.

Northwood Space is not the first surprising twist in Mendler’s CV. The now 31-year-old is most known for her Disney kid days on Wizards of Waverley Place, Good Luck Charlie and Lemonade Mouth. 2010s school disco attendees may also remember bouncing along to Hurricane and Ready or Not – funk-pop bangers from Mendler’s EP with Hollywood Records. 

A quick peep on her LinkedIn profile reveals an academic side-history that puts Elle Woods to shame. Mendler studied anthropology at the University of Southern California, before gaining a PhD from MIT Media Lab and juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Last year, she even acted as co-president of Harvard Space Law Society. 

Whilst sticking out COVID-19 at Northwood Lake in New Hampshire, Mendler embarked on her space tech venture. 

‘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,’ she recounted to CNBC. 

By 2023, these Northwood Lake experiments were transformed into full-blown start-up Northwood Space. Mendler co-founded the start-up with her ‘two favorite ground nerds’, husband Griffin Cleverly (CTO) and friend Shaurya Luthra (Head of Software).  

The start-up now has a glossy new website. Credit: Northwood Space website.

‘To meet the needs of today’s space industry, the one-lane rickety road for space data needs to adapt to a ten-lane highway routing continuous traffic across the globe,’ proclaims the Northwood Space website. ‘Shared infrastructure has time and again played a significant role in scaling communications technologies to mass adoption, whether it be shared towers for cellular technology or shared points of presence for the internet.’ 

The start-up is currently on the grow, advertising six senior engineering positions. Mendler made an informal call to arms on LinkedIn last week. ‘We have a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s the fun part. If you like building quickly and seeing your work deployed in locations around the globe with real impact, we want you at Northwood. Feel free to DM me or check our careers page.’ 

Former Disney channel fans have been quick to show support. ‘She’s an icon, she’s a legend, and she is the moment,’ starry-eyed speech therapist Andi Johnson replies to her post. ‘I feel like a proud son watching my mother change the world,’ equity and inclusion officer Jonathon Ramicone adds. 

Over on TikTok, Mendler’s 2016 single Do You Miss Me At All is trending in honor of the new business move – as are clips from her Atlantic live interview on ‘Tech and Humanity’ six years ago. 

Written By

Penultimate-year undergraduate at the University of St Andrews, studying MA English and Modern History

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