Southern California’s Cluster of Aerospace Startups

Cluster is the first marketplace for hardware companies to hire full-time engineers. Hire talent with expertise honed at top companies in climate tech, aerospace, automotive, robotics and more.

Southern California’s Cluster of Aerospace Startups

“Companies in vibrant clusters can tap into an existing pool of specialized and experienced employees, thereby lowering their search and transaction costs in recruiting. ”
- Michael E. Porter, Clusters and the New Economics of Competition

The term was popularized by Harvard scholar and professor Michael Porter in his book, The Competitive Advantage of Nations. A cluster is a geographic concentration of related companies, organizations, and institutions in a particular field that can be present in a region, state, or nation.

Regional economies grow and decline based on their ability to specialize in high-value industries and then evolve those specializations over time.

Southern California is home to an innovative cluster of companies. Vehicles, including aircraft, spacecraft and cars, is the most prominent regional cluster driven by aerospace and defense, along with automotive companies. At Cluster, we serve all hardware verticals (climate tech, EV, space, consumer electronics) and our talent pool frequently moves between these industries in California.

Southern California’s Aerospace Startup Cluster

Our partners at Starburst Aerospace in El Segundo put together this map of the aerospace startup ecosystem. It’s nicely broken out by funding stage from pre-seed to Series B (and beyond) companies including: Panasonic, The Spaceship Company, Viasat, Shield AI, Anduril, Millennium Space Systems, Rocket Lab and Epirus.

Fierce Competition for Hardware Talent

The density of hardware companies in Southern California creates fierce competition between employers for talent, especially those seeking experienced engineers from space and EV companies like SpaceX and Rivian.

As a company, Cluster attracts more than 1,000 engineers per week applying to join our vertical labor marketplace seeking full-time engineering roles at both hardware startups, large public companies and everything in between. 

We often hear from engineers who are frustrated with the search and discovery on horizontal job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed. They are also frequently solicited by recruiters for roles that don’t align with their engineering discipline. 

Similarly, employers aren’t reaching the caliber of talent they need. Candidates who don’t meet their basic requirements, are out of their salary range are able to apply en masse. Hiring teams that are reliant on job board applicants have to screen too many people and are not set up for success.

Job Specialization Adds Value

The focus on doing just one thing allows vertical labor marketplaces to create a more tailored experience for their role or industry.

Specialized jobs are not served well by the incumbent job boards, which is why we’re seeing strong growth in vertical labor marketplaces. There are now large-scale solutions for hiring specialty roles such as Incredible Health for nurses and Workrise or Oil & Gas workers. 

Cluster provides this focus for both engineers and companies building hardware. 

Time-to-Hire is at 67 Days

Energy & Defense companies took over 67 days to hire replacements in 2022. The industry's time-to-hire metric is projected to be even slower in 2023. 

Hardware companies cite three key barriers to hiring from horizontal job boards: time-to-hire, poor quality of candidates and competition from other companies. 

We’re able to match (no sourcing required) vetted hardware engineers (9+ years of work experience) to hardware companies they would not have discovered or considered on their own. 

Each month we have more than 9,000 vetted hardware engineers (EE, ME, etc) seeking new roles at hardware companies with experience at top OEMs, like Rivian, Relativity Space and SpaceX.


Spend less time sourcing, more time closing candidates

Cluster is the first marketplace for hardware companies to hire full-time engineers. Hire talent with expertise honed at top companies in climate tech, aerospace, automotive, robotics and more.

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Published on
June 9, 2023