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Drone Racing Goes Big Time: Nick Horbaczewski, Drone Racing League

Have you been following the 2017 Drone Racing League and wondering who’s going to win?

Well, we’re not going to divulge that or give any other spoilers in this episode but we are going to hear from someone who will tell us why we should tune-in Nick Horbaczewski is the CEO of the Drone Racing League, the premier racing organization combining world class pilots, iconic locations and proprietary technology to create engaging drone racing content with mass appeal.  The League was formed in 2015, finished its first successful season in 2016 and is back for what could be its break out year.  I interviewed Nick just before the start of the 2016 season, and so much has happened since then.  Nick is here to break everything down for us – to talk about last year, what’s new for this year and how the lessons of the first two years are taking the league to the next level.

In This Episode

  • [02:00] Introduction.  Nick Horbaczewski is the CEO and founder of the Drone Racing League.  The league started in 2015.
  • [02:06] 2016 Recap. As Nick explains, 2016 was about developing the technology and building the infrastructure on both the drone and radio side as well as on the media side to produce world class drone racing events for film. In 2016, DRL was on TV in over 40 countries, in front of tens of millions of viewers worldwide. Since then the league has been working to improve the quality of the races, the technology and continuing to reach out to new audiences.  DRL’s underlying value is producing world class competitive sports and finding ways to share that with audiences around the world.  The 2017 season provides the chance to apply all that has been learned from 2016.
  • [05:34] New for 2017. For 2017, 16 pilots began the season, some returning and some new pilots. The top twelve pilots went to Munich for the playoffs and the top eight went to London for the championship. Some rookies have also joined the league this year. For the first time, DRL built an online drone racing simulator. Not only was it a video game, but thousands competed for a chance to become a real DRL pilot. The top 24 players on the leaderboard were brought to New York to compete against each other.  The winner joined the 2017 DRL slate of pilots. The third major advancement for 2017 was a new racer, capable of going from 0-80 miles per hour in less than a second.
  • [10:44] Media Impact. Nick discusses the positive impact partnerships with ESPN and other media outlets have had on the league. Namely, it brought a degree of legitimacy to the league. In addition to the media partners, DRL has also picked up several well-known sponsors, like Bud Lite and Swatch. Many see this as an opportunity to expand their brand as this new sport grows.
  • [12:57] DSL As A Leader. Because of its success, the Drone Racing League is oftentimes looked as the leader in this emerging sport. Nick talks about the prestige that it brings along with the challenges of meeting those expectations.
  • [15:11] Fan Response. Nick share his thoughts on how the League’s fan base has grown so quickly. For the Championship in London, thousands showed up to support and watch the event.
  • [16:23] On Success. Nick always knew that the Drone Racing League would be a success, but he did not see that it would happened in only two years. Nick talks about this success, and the task ahead to DRL familiarizing people with the sport, getting them an opportunity to watch it and letting them become fans of what they’re doing. Nick credits the success of the League to an incredible teal at DRL and sponsors/partners.
  • [20:22] Rest of 2017 Season. Nick talks about the rest of the 2017 season.  No spoilers, but he says there’s a lot of great drone racing and the finals in London were really amazing.
  • [21:43]The Future. DRL will continue to build its fan base, increase the number of races and expand its content. A new version of the video game is planned, and a new drone racer for consumers will be released in the August, 2017.  .
  • [23:11] Closing. Nick and his team are really enjoying the challenges of building a new sport and having fun at the same time. There is a lot of greatfulness.

Mentioned Links

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    Drone Racing Goes Big Time: Nick Horbaczewski, Drone Racing League Drone Radio Show

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