Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - aka "drones" - have been rapidly growing in popularity over the past five years, with many industry leaders, such as Amazon, investing heavily in assessing the benefits of utilizing drone technology. However, drones are still in the infancy stage in terms of adoption. There is a lot of concern around their feasibility and legality.
Their potential benefit is clear: when you need something shipped immediately, with the shortest transit time possible, or in cases where surface transportation is limited, drones have the potential to be the most efficient way of delivering goods, including emergency healthcare.
A startup in Brazil is committed to driving the drone industry forward and improving the functionality of drone technology. Speedbird Aero is making drone delivery possible for companies, logistics services, and healthcare facilities. Today, we caught up with the Founder, Samuel Salomão, to learn more about the challenges of becoming a leader in drone delivery.
The startup at a glance
Startup Name: Speedbird Aero
Location: Franca, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Date founded: 2018
Number of employees: 25
Vonage API used: Video API
In one sentence, what does Speedbird Aero do?
We develop technology and operate our own systems for drone logistics a.k.a. drone delivery.
What is the problem you are solving? Was this the initial problem or did you pivot?
We believe that unmanned aircraft such as drones will revolutionize the way people receive e-commerce orders, food, and medicines. Similar to Brazil, other parts of the world are highly dependent on roads for cargo transportation, and sometimes the road infrastructure is not even set, so drones appear as an obvious solution for a faster, cleaner, cheaper, and environment friendly solution.
What differentiates Speedbird Aero from your competitors? Is there a secret sauce?
We focus on solving real logistics problems that we find by talking to our customers. Depending on the problem we have different types of cargo aircraft for the mission. Also, we work closely with aviation regulators to ensure our whole operation is safe and our system is certified following aviation standards and procedures.
VC, Angel, Bootstrap or Other?
VC and Angel.
What’s the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge obviously was the certification process with our Civil Aviation Authority.
The biggest mistake Speedbird Aero has made so far and what did you learn from it?
Maybe not starting the regulatory process at the very beginning. But we would have to have a more mature system anyway. So as of today, every new aircraft project starts with the aviation certification process in mind.
You can choose one to be on your board: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Who do you choose and why?
Elon Musk, because we love rockets :)
What progress have you made since launching?
We have completed thousands of hours flying our drones in urban environments, as well as hundreds of deliveries connecting Malls to nearby neighborhoods. We have already conquered our first beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) experimental certificate and we are very close to acquiring our first airworthiness certification issued by a Civil Aviation Authority.
What’s next for Speedbird Aero? Where do you want to be in 3 years?
The focus to solve real world problems and regulatory approvals put Speedbird Aero in an important position with operations running for key players in verticals such as food delivery, healthcare logistics, retail, and beauty care. In 3 years we will expand abroad and conquer more complex approvals to fly over cities with heavier aircraft transporting 30 to 60 kilograms for a 500 kilometer radius.
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