Buck Jordan here.

The best investment I ever made was into a company called Relativity Space, an aerospace manufacturing company.

These guys use 3D printing to turn metal wire into 107-foot-tall rockets, all in just two months.

To put that into some perspective, the normal build time on a rocket is somewhere between 12 to 18 months. And Relativity Space can do it 10X faster with less than 1% the number of parts and pieces of something like a SpaceX Falcon 9.

You may know this company already. It was founded in 2015 by engineers Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, and since then, the company has made plenty of headlines.

Last fall, for example, the company closed a $500 million Series D round at a $2.3 billion valuation. That financing round has officially made Relativity Space the world’s second most valuable private space company.

But back in the day, before the company really took off, their idea sounded crazy. I mean, 3D printing itself really only gained popularity (in the commercial sense, at least) over the last decade or so.

The idea of 3D printing an entire rocket was something extraordinary.

Back then, how did these guys convince me to invest?

To start, the team has incredible pedigree. One of them worked as a rocket engineer over at SpaceX. A friend of mine had even worked with him and said he was one of the best engineers he’d ever met.

And the CEO came from Blue Origin, where he’d launched the 3D printing lab for Jeff Bezos.

Together, they had the talent necessary to make it big. I knew it then, even though they were a couple of mid-20s kids when I invested. At the time, they literally had a three-foot-wide metal bowl, and somehow, they convinced me they could build a massive rocket, push a button, and launch it.

The team also had a huge vision. They’re trying to solve a difficult problem with advanced tech. And five years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, it’s clear that the company has plenty of market validation. The company is even within reach of an actual launch in the near future.

Now, I’m not just telling you this story for fun. It’s actually an excellent example of what factors you should consider when making a startup investment.

Because the truth is, everything really does come down to the entrepreneur.

It may sound like a bit of a cliché, but it’s true. The team from Relativity Space had an excellent idea and vision, but it was the founding team that really sold the deal for me.

Entrepreneurship is so hard. It’s hard to create something out of nothing, and it’s even harder to create a return for investors. You need to find and invest in the entrepreneurs who are ready to gargle glass to get their work done.

They need to be able to sacrifice their friends, their family, and their health to make it work. I always look for that type of maniacal dedication in these founders, because I know firsthand how tough it is to make it big.

Above all, I know that an incredibly dedicated founder is more likely to do their very best work with my investment. I don’t need to see revenue right off the bat, but I do want to trust that my dollars will be spent wisely.

And if something does go wrong, I want to know that, too. If I know a company’s problems or pain points, I can use my network and connections to help them fix it.

At the end of the day, it’s all about trust in an honest founder with a vision for solving a massive problem with a great piece of technology.

When you’re doing your own research, I strongly recommend seeking those founders out… because they’re the ones who are much more likely to deliver you a solid return on your investment.

That’s all from me for today, but I’ll be back again shortly. If you have any questions or if there’s anything you’d like me to cover in the future, let me know in the comments below!

We’ll talk soon,

Buck Jordan