Member Interview: Charles Black, Sen
We sat down with Charles to find out about Sen, the future of live video and his entrepreneurial journey to date.
Sen was founded in 2014 with a vision to democratize space with unique video perspectives of our ever-changing world. Its mission is to stream real-time videos to billions of people, by capturing unique video content using both hosted video cameras and its own constellations of small satellites. Pronounced as a word rather than individual letters, Sen is an acronym for ‘space exploration network’.
Prior to Sen, Charles set up cloud computing business Nasstar, in 1998. Nasstar PLC traded on the London Stock Exchange in 2005 and Charles stepped down as CEO of in 2014 to focus on Sen and his passion for space.
I had no money to start it [Nasstar] so I ran it from my bedroom, sending letters saying, “I can build you a website”. I didn’t know how to build a website! I used PaintShop Pro to mock something up and then taught myself HTML. I actually built and hosted a website for Jamiroquai, which was a great contract to get. I preferred the scalability and repeat revenue of hosting, so focused on that, adding hosted email in 2002 and hosted desktop in 2004. I successfully grew the business; it was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2005 and stepped down as CEO in 2014 to focus on Sen. At the time I stepped down Nasstar had a market cap of around £25 million, and it has now grown to a market value of over £70 million.
I’ve always been fascinated by space and came up with the idea for Sen in 1990. I didn’t quite know the best way to get it started back then. The infrastructure wasn’t there at that point and people felt my idea was crazy. In 1998 I started Nasstar, but always wanted to create Sen. I was full time as Nasstar CEO until 2014, but prior to then I actually decided on the name for Sen and purchased the domain back in 2008.
I was free to focus on Sen from mid-2014. Sen’s business is to provide real-time video to both consumers and organisations to move society forward – the idea is that everyone should benefit from seeing unique perspectives of Earth, that is the vision. Video has two main attributes – movement, and the power to tell a story. Like a film it has the capability to change the way you think and feel, and we want to use this to show people the effects of climate change, natural disasters and the movement of people in real time.