Do you have an idea for a new drone start up?
Then the lessons offered by today’s guest will really interest you. Siggi Hindrichs is an entrepreneur in residence at the Samsung NEXT Start tech accelerator in San Francisco. She is the founder of Notifleet, an early stage startup that aims to be an all-in-one solution for fleet management for commercial UAVs. Siggi is also a certified remote pilot with sUAS rating under Part 107. In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Siggi talks about her business idea to help companies scale their drone fleets, the benefits and opportunities of working in a tech accelerator and the challenges and rewards of creating a new tech start-up. If you have an idea for a new drone business, you’ll find this interview interesting.
In This Episode
- Introduction. Siggi Hindrichs is an entrepreneur in residence Samung NEXT Start Accelerator where she spends her time valuing business opportunities in the drone space, especially opportunities that have to do with using software to make it easier for companies to operate in the current regulatory environment. The Samsung Next Start Accelerator makes investments in early stage technology companies. They also hire entrepreneurs in residence, like Siggi, to work on their even earlier stage business ventures.
- Background. Siggi’s completed her undergrad degree in Financed, then went to law school. She developed an interest in intersection of law and technology, which led to the current engagement at the Accelerator. She initially joined the Accelerator to evaluate the regulatory or legal framework around drones. She focused her research around the challenges of drone fleet management for enterprise businesses. While doing her research, Siggi formulated an idea for her drone based business.
- Notifleet. Imagine that you are a large company that wants to use drones to make your operations more efficient. Let’s say that you start out with one hundred drones and you eventually grow to two thousand. What is the impact of that growth in terms of labor costs, insurance, maintenance and other operational fees. That’s the idea behind Notifleet. When a company scales up to a large drone fleet, it can become really unmanageable unless the company has a management tool behind it.
- Fleet Management Challenges. It’s still very early for many companies to be seriously thinking about putting in place a drone fleet. What companies need to understand and quantify before building a fleet is the value that drones could have when they’re integrated into their existing operation. The hope is that Notifleet will make make it easier for a company to jump into the fleet management arena.
- Entrepreneurial Process. Siggi talks about the process of starting a company, particularly the early stages. Notifleet is in the early idea testing phase, as Siggi evaluates her hypothesis against the needs and opportunities in the industry. One can’t be afraid of exploring bad ideas as each provides a learning opportunity. The Samsung NEXT Start Accelerator provides a lot of support during this early start up phase.
- Advice To Other Entrepreneurs. Siggi’s advice to entrepreneurs is to get their idea out in front of other people. Build a prototype if you can and try to find out how your idea can solve a problem.
- Regulatory Environment. Siggi discusses some of the findings of her research into federal, state and local regulations. With Part 107 now in effect, the Federal landscape is clearer, but there are still challenges in flying at night or beyond visual sight. State and local laws present other challenges, because of the number and diversity of regulations. There’s no one source of local or state regulations, and there can be vast differences between approaches by states and localities.
- Part 107 Certification. Siggi shares her experience taking the Part 107 certification test. She recommends identify the purpose for taking the test, which will provide focus. She started studying about two weeks before and took an online prep course. There is a lot of good free information online. Remember that the regulations certify you to fly, but don’t make you a pilot. For that, a person needs practice flying in a variety of conditions.
- Women In Drones. Siggi discusses her experiences, as a woman, working in the drone industry and starting a drone based business. While there are some barriers for women in technology, generally she hasn’t experienced any. Perhaps because she’s an entrepreneur and her own boss. She also has looked up to many great women in leadership in drones, such as Gretchen West and Sally French.
- Request For Feedback. Since Siggi is still evaluating her business idea, she’s hoping to gain feedback from companies companies that are looking to scale their drone operations.
- Next Steps. Siggi’s next steps include continuing the research of the market opportunities. Her prototype is on its way and that will help her in the customer development process. She hopes to be able to build a business that will understands and addresses the real needs of customers.
From Idea To Drone Start Up – Siggi Hindrichs, Entrepreneur Drone Radio Show