Reese Mozer, Co-founder of American Robotics, discusses the long road to FAA approval, and why that achievement is what will make all the difference in scaling drone technology
The world of business is full of empty promises masquerading as the next “big thing.” From pitch comps in high schools to stakeholder meetings for the Fortune 100, you hear the same claim; that this service, or that product will be a total game-changer.
As proof, all we have to do is take a little look into the past. Back in 1957, Ford dove in head first into “the next best thing,” also known as the Ford Edsel. But consumer preferences were evolving quickly, and no one wanted a big, bulky gas-guzzling car any more. After a few years, and $400 million dollars down the drain, it was quickly taken off the market. Coors’ “rocky mountain spring water” and Amazon, Facebook and ESPN took the same route by offering phones to customers, only to realize they overpromised and underdelivered.
It’s hard, almost impossible, to create something that truly has a long-lasting impact on the world and on consumer behavior. The internet was one of those things, and companies like Google, Tesla, and Apple were a few leaders that transcended the world of fad and actually entered the zeitgeist in real ways. But they are the exceptions, not the rule. And they also weren’t the first movers in their industries. So where does that leave an innovative new drone company, which is angling to be another one of those unicorns, but is paving a completely new path to get there?
“We became the first company authorized by the FAA to conduct these automated operations with no humans on site,” Reese Mozer, CEO and co-founder of the company explained.
Mozer said they did the maths and figured out that too many pilots would have to be employed for all the drones that were available.
“Does it make sense to have a thousand humans, a thousand pilots on staff?” Mozer asked. “No it doesn’t. So that has been our contrarian view since we founded the company.”
With a vision to get automated commercial drones in the air, Mozer and his team had a gigantic obstacle in the form of the Federal Aviation Administration. So, they decided that overcoming regulation was the rock that the company had to push up the mountain to scale the business.
“The whole system, the American Robotics Scout System, has been designed from the ground up, essentially with the core purpose of getting this approval,” he said. “The drone, the use case, the operation profile, everything was designed in order to optimize the chances that we actually got this because this was the minimum bar for us to make a scalable drone business…We’ve been working with the FAA on a near-constant basis.”
Their approach worked, but what will this first-mover in the automated commercial drone space do to establish itself in the Google and Tesla category and not go the way of the Ford Edsel? Mozer thinks he knows.
“One of the biggest values that we provide and we’ll continue to grow with all this high-resolution data, now we can begin producing and offering new analytics features again because that’s what this is about,” he said. “This is about collecting data, but more importantly analyzing that data”.
Other drone companies could fly in the slipstream of American Robotics, but what sets the company apart is the ability to look for other nuggets under the golden ticket that it unlocked for the commercial drone industry. The company is in it for the long haul.
Mozer imagines it as “thousands of systems out there operating constantly every day, capturing petabytes of ultra-high-resolution, two-dimensional, three-dimensional data, what efficiencies does it unlock? What things can we do that we can’t do today? I don’t think anyone knows the full extent of that answer.”
What he does know is that it takes a bucket load of perseverance to make sure his company is not taking a short road trip in a Ford Edsel.
“Entrepreneurship is insane perseverance in the face of constant rejection, and I think that’s the entrepreneur’s version of courage,” Mozer said. “Just never really give up. People say it all the time, but that’s what it takes.”
To hear more about how Mozer and American Robotics achieved success and are planning to stay ahead in the commercial drone space, tune into Business X factors.
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