Life after service

Royal Navy Veteran Chris Newlands' Career Skyrockets With Space App

The inspirational story behind the veteran who made it possible to take a selfie from space

Chris Newlands' entrepreneurial mind led him to create a pioneering new app, 'Spelfie', (a selfie taken from space) which captures entire events from space in real-time using satellites and is set to shake up digital marketing.

He cites his experience in the Armed Forces as one of the reasons he’s been so successful in the fast-paced tech world, including knowing how to build bonds with other people and manage stress.

A Head For Numbers

Scotsman Chris Newlands spent almost six years in the Royal Navy as a trainee officer and accountant.

Having always had an affinity for maths, Chris decided to leave the Armed Forces in 1988 to train as a chartered financial planner.

Inspired by his dad, who’d been in the industry for years, Chris embarked on a new career.

Following 25 successful years working in senior finance roles, Chris was itching for a new challenge.

Stepping into the entrepreneurial world, he started to develop new technology for the travel and events industries.

All-New Satellite Selfie App

His latest project is 'Spelfie', a photo app that takes selfies from space.

Known in the marketing industry as an experiential marketing tool, 'Spelfie' lets people create a personalised micro-video by taking real-time images from above – using satellites orbiting the planet – of live gigs, festivals, football matches and other events.

The video doesn’t only create extraordinary social content; it can also be used as proof of attendance.

A major factor to Chris’ success is the interpersonal skills learned in the Royal Navy. He explains:

"The ability to speak to anybody at any level is something you gain in the Armed Forces.

"I think the ability to walk into a room and talk with any person from any rank, background or age, and find something in common, is undervalued.

"A big part of my career success, in my view, is the ability to be relatable and likeable to some degree as well.

"After all, people buy people, not products.”

He also credits his military experience to keeping a cool head. When feeling the pressure, he remembers an incident that saw his Royal Navy vessel come under missile fire.

When faced with business challenges, Chris is more than prepared to handle the stress.

Busting The Myth

Chris is one of many people who have made the most of a post-military career and has veteran friends who are also doing incredibly well.

Despite this, the myth that all veterans suffer after leaving the Armed Forces tends to eclipse these positive stories. He said:

"I find it sad that there seems to be a perception that all veterans are struggling with homelessness or PTSD.

“That may be the case for some, but I think the transition to civilian life is misunderstood.

"And there's a real need for people to understand that, actually, the skills that you gain in the military environment are invaluable.”

Chris’ advice is based on building three successful careers using military skills.

His story also provides a great example of the power of military training and expertise, which, he feels is essential for future members of the Armed Forces to know.

This story is part of 'Life After Service' - a week-long campaign of positive stories about ex-servicemen and women which will be running every day across all the BFBS media channels.