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Spaceman Sam Coniglio Makin’ It Happen

This post is all about how big your dreams can be, what it takes to make them real, and how to keep a little down-to-earth balance while you make it all happen.

Sam Coniglio is a self-described “jack of all trades.” He knows a ton about tech and marketing, but his real love is space travel. Here’s a man who has found a way to live free by leveraging both current market needs (for tech support) and an emerging industry (space tourism).

I’ve known Sam for years. He helped me get up to speed tech-wise at the Apple store before he went and started his own success story, SF Tech Alchemy (SFTA). SFTA is just what you need when you don’t want to haul your computer downtown, want help syncing your calendars and devices, have 5 bazillion digital images you can’t use because you can’t find anything, or just want to learn something simpler like how to make a great flier. SFTA is a great solution for Apple tech needs on the go.

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Spaceman Sam with Signature Cosmic Cocktail Glass

Little did I know that while he was helping me straighten out my tech problems, Sam was secretly plotting Much. Bigger. Things.

How big? Cosmic proportions.

Now Sam runs two businesses. SFTA, business number one, is kind of modest — all things considered. Business number two is quite literally cosmic.

Sam’s recently launched the Cosmic Lifestyle Corporation (CLC) — great name — and the concept, brand, and company are already getting traction.

Here’s what you should know that you probably didn’t: Space tourism is becoming a reality. Travel that used to cost $20 to $30 million is coming down in price to closer to the $200 thousand mark. As time goes on and companies like Sam’s will popularize the idea of space tourism while tech advancements will make it more and more accessible.

I had the pleasure to interview Sam last week. Fasten your seat belts and place your oxygen masks to find out more about the fascinating results of combining tech support with space tourism.

1. Tell me a bit about yourself. Where did the idea to start CLC come from? What is the philosophy behind your business?

I’m a jack of all trades. It’s a hard thing to be, especially in this era of over-specialized careers.

Yet, the most successful people I have met seem to have a wide variety of passions, which make them more interesting.

My two businesses cater to two of my passions: computers and space travel. What they both have in common is education and evangelism. In Silicon Valley, there are many tech evangelists who are both experts in their field and can convey their topic in plain language for a broad audience. That separates them from an engineer or programmer, who tend to be too focused.

SFTA takes the lessons I learned at Apple for conveying complex information to a broader audience and gives me the flexibility to make “house calls” or run workshops anywhere.

CLC takes a branding approach to space travel. Can you make a product for space and have it sponsored by a company? Can the caché of “space” be used to promote a company’s brand? Can it sell products? So far it looks like a YES.

CLC is a culmination of 10 years of research and how to bring space travel to the masses. People are starting to do it, but it’s like the early days of tourism — wealthy people going to Greece or Egypt in the 1800’s. We’re at the very early, early stages of space tourism.

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Could You Be Next?

2. How would you describe your services and what clients can expect? I mean, obviously your Earth tech clients can expect something pretty different from your cosmic cocktail clients. . . .

With San Francisco Tech Alchemy, we offer Apple Tech training and consulting. We cater to clients over the age of 40 who weren’t raised on computers yet have need use it. We also cater to small to medium size businesses which need to get their team up to speed on Apple Technology so they can be more efficient. If you invest thousands of dollars on technology, does it not make sense to spend on training to get a full ROI?

With CLC, we are a space experience and branding company. We offer a unique service: elegant, energy efficient products that work off-world, yet could be sold on Earth, or at least improve the lifestyle brand of your company. It is a new concept, and we have gotten a lot of interest from major lifestyle brands.

3. What makes CLC unique?

With San Francisco Tech Alchemy, we are the ONLY Apple tech company in San Francisco that focuses on personalized training. We cater to the non-technical audience.

At CLC, we design and build products that actually work in space. We are improving the way astronauts live on the International Space Station, and eventually private space travelers in future space hotels for space tourists. Plus companies get to be associated with this amazing idea.

4. Talk about how you like to interact with the community. Tell us about the art you feature and your role in San Francisco business community.

I lived in and around the Bay area since 2000. San Francisco is so walkable, with such friendly people, open to all sorts of ideas. I lived in the city for 3 years. Now I live in Oakland, near the hot district of Temescal, which is hipster central. As an artist I have been involved with the Burning Man Community, working on teams that built several amazing art pieces. The most famous piece is a three story Victorian House on Wheels known as the “Neverwas Haul.” Also, I help out with RoboGames and Maker Faire, two amazing arts and technology events. Finally, I am a regular at costume events like the Dicken’s Faire, and the Edwardian Ball. San Francisco has so many costume-friendly events, and my wife and I have fun playing here. (Remember, life is too short not to enjoy it!)

5. What does the future look like for CLC? Any ideas on projects or different services you’d like to add on?

The CLC is brand new, but it looks like we will be offering new space branded products that make living off-world better. I can’t say what’s happening next, but our current project, the “Zero Gravity Cocktail Glass,” has gotten rave reviews on Boing Boing and MAKE blogs.

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Have a Drink on Spaceman Sam

6. What do you love most about San Francisco?

I love the beautiful architecture, the stunning Bay views, and amazingly friendly people.

7. Many of your clients — and mine, too — spend their day at their desk, in front of computers. As part of my own coaching work, I always encourage people to remember self-care. Any tips for keeping your body healthy and feeling good when you’re at a desk all day?

I have similar challenges in my life. My wife and I have a membership at the YMCA. We do yoga, a lot. Helps stretch out the sore muscles. Also the body sculpting class at the Y kicks us in the butt. We also love to hike! The San Francisco Bay Area has some of the best hiking trails in the world! Check out and pick a trail!!!

8. Tell us about the services you offer for companies and businesses. (I was thinking about how you travel to businesses to work on their employees).

San Francisco Tech Alchemy offers on-site training and seminars on any Apple-related topic. It could be one on one, or one to many education. We teach the basics of the iOS (iPhone and iPad), MacOS (Macintosh Computer) and can focus in on things like file management, photo editing, all the way up to Final Cut Pro X video editing. Because we come to you, we make it convenient for your business, so you don’t have to deal with traffic and go to the Apple Store!

9. Who else in involved in CLC? Who is your team and who do you rely on?

For San Francisco Tech Alchemy, it’s just myself and Josimar King. We are both former creative trainers from the downtown flagship Apple store on Stockton Street in SF. We are the “stylish geeks” who break the nerd stereotypes and impress with our fashion sense and our tech knowledge.

For CLC, we have a rockstar team: Russell Davis is a celebrity mixologist and serial entrepreneur (co-star on SPIKE TV’s “Bar Rescue”), Nick Donaldson is an award-winning local roboticist and toymaker. Paul Fuller is a young accounting wiz and space entrepreneur. Brent Heyning is a Hollywood prop maker and fabricator who has built stuff for the Matrix, Star Trek, TRON, Transformers, and other movies.

10. How do you use social media and online marketing in your business?

Social media is a huge tool for opening up doors to mainstream media. for both business, we use Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to tell our friends and their friends about our activities. It takes time, but you need to keep posting on these “micro-blogs” to build up a following. The tough part is figuring out what to talk about. Just talking about your company is boring. People want to know about you as a person: your hobbies, passions, your travels, your adventures. When people feel they have a personal relationship with you, they will begin to care about your life. Sorta like how celebrity magazines talk about the stars and their weird lives. Hey, you wanna get you and your products known? You gotta get out there and talk.

11. Anything else you would like to share about the CLC?

CLC was created to promote an industry called space tourism. It is a small, very elite sub-set of the adventure travel industry. So far only 7 people have paid the estimated $20-30 million to fly into space. With the advent of Virgin Galactic (founded by Richard Branson), the cost of flying to space will drop dramatically (close to $200,000). There are other new players in this super elite world, including Elon Musk (PayPal Founder, runs SpaceX), Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder, runs Blue Origin), and Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder, funded SpaceShipOne, a part of the X Prize. The X Prize Foundation sent the first privately owned, privately operated spaceship to the edge of space..

12. Finally, since we’re both in the world of freelancers, small biz, and startups, do you have advice for up and coming businesses?

Passion, persistence, and staying focused. Yes, I have two totally different businesses. They are both part-time at the moment. If one starts showing amazing progress and revenue starts flowing in, then I may consider handing the other off to a successor. Find your passion and keep talking about it until you or someone you know can help make it into a viable business. If it is not working, then pivot the entire company in another direction, or end the company and start with another idea. “The Lean Startup” taught me that. If it is an existing business, find something that makes you stand apart from the crowd. Be unique. Be yourself. Don’t be shy.

Your Turn

What do you think of space tourism? Need a Zero Gravity Cocktail after a long day trying to figure out your iPad? Call Sam.

{photos courtesy of Sam Coniglio}

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