Establishing the first human settlement on Mars will be one of the defining moments of the 21st century and perhaps the most exciting event in our lifetime. Mars One's funding model is based on the commercial value of that adventure, donations, and several other revenue sources.
When talking about Mars One’s funding model, it is important to note that Mars One actually consists of two entities, the not-for-profit Mars One Foundation and the for-profit company Mars One Ventures. The Mars One foundation implements and manages the mission, owns the mission hardware, and selects and trains the crews. Mars One Ventures holds the exclusive monetization rights around the mission. Revenue streams from these rights will increase as the mission moves forward, which means that initial investments are required in mission development phase A (als see Current Mission Status).
For the Mars One foundation, taking the mission closer to successful completion is the only important goal. To most investors in Mars One Ventures however, a positive return on their investment is more important than the actual mission success. A viable business case that projects a solid return on investment even if the Mars mission wouldn’t progress as scheduled, is therefore essential to successfully attract investments. To make sure that the interests of the Mars One foundation and Mars One Ventures (hence investors) are aligned, a funding structure was developed that ensures that both entities mutually benefit from each other's success. In return for the exclusive monetization rights around the mission, Mars One Ventures will pay the Mars One foundation an initial injection of six million US$ to kickstart the mission and 5% on all gross turnover. The more revenue Mars One Venture generates, the more funding will flow back into the foundation, resulting in mission progress such as detailed designs, hardware development, and mission launches and landings. This progress will be documented and shared with the world via diverse channels, such as TV documentary series and online content, bringing more (donating) supporters on board of the Mars One Foundation and at the same time reinforcing revenue streams for Mars One Ventures. All mission progress contributes to the value of the mission and therefore to the longer term value of investor shares.
Mars One estimates the cost of bringing the first four people to Mars at US$ 6 billion (als read What is Mars One’s Mission Budget?). Mars One's business case projection supports at least double that budget. One-time and recurring donations from supporters around the world go to the Mars One foundation contributing directly to the progress of the human mission to Mars. Existing Mars One Ventures revenue streams include merchandise sales, ads on video content, brand partnerships, speaking engagements, and (sub) license fees. New revenue opportunities include broadcasting rights, Intellectual Property rights, games & apps, and events. Most revenue streams are expected to be highest around the first human launch and landing, adding to secured funding for following cargo and human missions. Below, a few of the revenue sources are explained further.
Mars One receives donations from over 100 countries every month. The revenue generated from donations is not enough to finance the mission but with every step Mars One takes and with every contract that is closed, more people donate and the average amount goes up. Mars One expects that revenues from donations can contribute substantially to the mission by the time Mars One’s first unmanned mission lands on Mars.
Intellectual Property rights
Mars One is not an aerospace company and will therefore rely on established aerospace suppliers to build its systems. Designing, building, and testing the hardware by these suppliers for Mars One's mission will result in new Intellectual Properties. For example in recycling and growing food with less water and energy than current systems, or in applying and further developing existing technologies to Martian conditions and autonomous operations.
A wide range of Mars One related products and merchandise will become available for supporters around the globe. Mars One can either manufacture and market these directly, or grant the rights to use Mars One’s brand or images to third parties through licensing agreements.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, everyone who had access to a TV watched it happen. In the current media era, where unique content is a high value asset and internet access is growing rapidly, the first human landing on Mars will be an enormous event.
The Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012 lasting only three weeks each, yielded more than 3.8 billion US$ from broadcasting rights only (see table below). Mars One offers the opportunity to take the world on the greatest exploration mission, from selecting and training the future astronauts, preparing the settlement, to the actual human landings on Mars where the settlers will start building a whole new society on another planet!