Jonathan is the creator of the first software and hardware platform for UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles), and he talks to us about growth in the midst of long sale cycles and heavy regulations.
TOPIC JONATHAN COVERS
- Airwave is a comprehensive platform for the development of small commercial drones.
- The platform allows companies developing commercial drones to focus on high-level, application-specific software tailored to their market or application, rather than reinventing the wheel
- The platform is called Airwave OS and is a combination of hardware and software
- Airwave allows companies developing commercial drones to focus on high-level application-specific software
- He has been in the drone industry for 8 years and created Airwave out of necessity
- He studied at MIT, worked at Boeing on a large-scale UAV program, and later went to Y Combinator
- The growth in the midst of long sale cycles and heavy regulations
- And a whole lot more
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Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor, and today I have Jonathan Downey with us. Jonathan, thanks for coming on the program.
Jonathan: Yeah, Bronson, I’m really happy to be here, happy to share my experiences.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. And your experiences will be pretty unique. I don’t think we’ve ever had a start up doing quite what you’re doing. And my guess is it’ll be a long time before we have another one doing quite once are doing. So I think people will enjoy this. But you’re the founder and CEO of Air Wear. So start with that. Tell us a little bit about air wear. What is it?
Jonathan: So at air, where we’re creating a comprehensive platform for the development of small commercial drones. And the idea here is that, you know, on the military side of things, companies have had the budgets and the timeframes to really be able to pull a lot of different pieces of hardware and software together to make a drone for a specific application. But that’s not going to fly on the commercial side of things. There’s going to be so many different applications for commercial drones, everything from agriculture to anti-poaching to infrastructure inspections, things like power lines, pipelines, bridges, levees, wildlife management, land management. That one size is not going to fit all. And these drones are going to be needed to be developed for different applications. But these companies also can’t do what the military has done and reinvent the wheel kind of over and over and do all of these large scale integration efforts. So the air wear platform is really about being able to leverage that platform, and it allows companies developing commercial drones to really focus on the kind of high level application specific software that’s really needs to be tailored for their market or application. And so we call it air wear OS. And it’s it’s a combination of hardware and software that lets companies do that.
Bronson: Yeah, it’s interesting all the different applications for it because when you hear drones or, you know, unmanned aerial vehicles, we all kind of go to army uses. But I was reading, I think it was Chris Dixon’s write up about you guys and he was the first time where I was like, Oh, agriculture and all these other things. There’s these huge potential there that have nothing to do with military matters. Let me ask you this. What made you want to create the first platform for UAV? That’s such a unique space. What made you want to do that?
Jonathan: Well, this is a space that I’ve been in actually for about eight years. And so I think we actually created air wear OS out of necessity rather than anything else. It kind of goes all the way back to when I was an undergraduate at MIT and I was working with some other students there to build a small drone for an intercollegiate competition. And so we were we were essentially building a UAV for an end use. And we saw all the problems associated with either leveraging one of the black box kind of military developed solutions or trying to pull together all the hardware, software yourselves and do it yourself. It’s just it’s too intractable of a problem for most development teams. And we found that out kind of firsthand. So that was when we really said, I wish there was a a platform that we could leverage and then really focus on that high level of application specific software. But it didn’t exist. So of course we considered doing it. But there also wasn’t this emerging commercial market at the time, so the timing wasn’t really right.
Bronson: Yeah. And so you actually you mentioned M.I.T. you were there. And then tell me if I’m wrong. You were at Boeing after that actually working on drones, is that right?
Jonathan: I did, yeah. When I graduated, I went and worked on the A-1 68 hummingbird. It’s a large £6,000, fully autonomous helicopter, no cockpit or anything like that. It only flew under computer control. Yeah. And we actually broke the world record for longest endurance helicopter flight and highest hover out of ground effect. So that was a chance to be on a really innovative but very large scale UAV program. Yeah.
Bronson: And then you actually went to Y Combinator after that. So let me ask you this. Was that what really got Paul Graham interested? And he says, okay, you’re at MIT working on drones, you go to Boeing working on drones, and now you want to build a platform for drones. Was he just like, you know, all ears at that point?
Jonathan: You know, it’s funny. He definitely was he was really excited from the first conversation that I had with him. And it’s funny because some people kind of get it right away. They get that it’s going to be big and they get that you need to build kind of a platform for this space. And, you know, other people, of course, are like, well, we’re not really looking for drones in our portfolio, but it’s not. And certainly was nobody was telling us that it was firmly in their wheelhouse.
Bronson: Yeah, no, absolutely no. Let’s talk about platforms a little bit, because I’ve heard it said before that great technologists always tend toward platforms. You know, you think about Zuckerberg, it’s like it’s not okay to have a social network. They want to have a platform where it’s the social layer of the Internet, so to say. Do you feel like platforms will always have a higher growth potential than just being one of the individual players of that? Platform. What’s your take on that?
Jonathan: Yeah, it’s hard to say. I mean, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on platforms in general. Like I said, we kind of developed this platform, I think, out of necessity because we understood that, you know, drones were going to need to be developed for all of these different applications. And if you kind of put yourself in the shoes of of the company or the people developing that drone, gosh, you really want a lot of those problems to be solved for you. And so, you know, in this space, this is a space where I expect there to be a few billion dollar companies. And some of those are going to be companies who are developing a drone for a specific kind of vertical or application. And I think there’s definitely the opportunity for one of those companies to really be at this platform level.
Bronson: Yeah. You know, given what you’ve learned about platforms already, because like you said, you’re not an expert, but you’re having to do it by virtue of your business. Any words of wisdom you would say to another entrepreneur who’s trying to tackle a platform and maybe a different industry? Any thoughts there?
Jonathan: I think it’s definitely to to find who your kind of ideal early users are and make sure you have a good dialog going with them and really be incorporating their needs into the platform from the very beginning. I think that kind of goes along with what I had said previously about kind of it’s better to build a platform out of necessity in some ways. And if you’re doing that and there’s a big audience of people who want to use it, I think you’re really setting yourself up to be successful.
Bronson: Yeah, because if you’re doing that in necessity, like you’re doing customer development with yourself because you know you need it, it’s a necessity for yourself. And like you said, as long as there’s enough people like you, then there’s a real market there. Now let’s talk about the growth of air wear a little bit. When did you guys actually launch? Give me an idea of the timeline here.
Jonathan: Yeah, sure. We actually debuted our products at ABC North America in August of 2012. ABC North America is the largest trade show in the world for unmanned systems, very specifically targeted at unmanned things that fly or swim or move along the ground. And so we kind of debuted our products at that show, but we weren’t quite selling it yet, and we did that to identify who we thought would be really good early data customers who began shipping to those customers a few months later in November of 2012.
Bronson: Okay, guys.
Jonathan: Customers have been using our product for about nine months now.
Bronson: Yeah. And what is it you’re actually selling? Is it access to software? Is it hardware? Is it expertize? What does the platform actually look like that they’re buying into?
Jonathan: Sure. It’s a combination of several of those things. It’s a it’s a hardware unit that we ship to them. And that’s because there’s essentially no standardized kind of underlying hardware in this space yet. And so we’ve gone about creating some of that. So it’s everything from the computing environment to the sensors that are used for actually flying the drone GPS, inertial sensors, static sensors. So all of that underlying hardware and then it’s also the air wear OS level of software. So that was everything from kind of navigation for the vehicle to communicate reliable communications with the ground to a clean API so that our customers and developers in the space can really develop some of these specific functionalities. And they can do it in a way where it then works across all of these different types of drones. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a helicopter or whether it’s a fixed wing or whether it’s a multi rotor solution.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Now, what kind of growth have you experienced in the last nine months when you actually been shipping the product? I don’t know what you can disclose, you know, users, contract customers or whatever. But give us a sense of the growth you guys have had.
Jonathan: So a lot of our early growth focus, instead of being on growing a number of customers, it’s been kind of on growing each of our individual like early beta customers. And so one of them, for example, Delta Drone in France, is the company that we one of the companies we began working with at the end of 2012. Since then, they’ve gone into kind of full production with their their drone vehicles. Their drone vehicles are flying missions almost daily in Europe for things like infrastructure inspections, open air mining operations. And then this summer, actually, they had an initial public offering on a stock market in Europe. So we’ve been really focused at making some of these early companies very successful. And then our other focus area has been on actually doing a similar thing and in developing partnerships. So other companies in the space, whether they’re building hardware or software or the underlying vehicles, any of them, that it makes sense for them to really integrate closely with and and leverage air wear OS. That’s where we’re focusing a lot of our efforts.
Bronson: Yeah. You said you’re really focusing on kind of those in. Initial users that you have. Let’s dig into that a little bit because so many people come on this show and they’re building these consumer facing products. So they have a possible marketplace of thousands, probably millions and in some cases billions of users. You guys are in a very different space where there’s not millions of potential customers. So does that mean you have to really focus on the ones you do have? And so you don’t think about the funnel as much? It’s not like, all right, let’s get 10,000 leads and convert X percent of all. It’s more we know who the leads are. We know their name. Now we got to build a relationship and it’s more longer term and it takes a lot more work. Is that the situation you guys were kind of in?
Jonathan: That’s that’s definitely how I think it’s working for us in this space. And, you know, when we when we think about there being a large number of companies developing commercial drones, we’re maybe now it’s large. And, you know, two or three years ago, it was very small, larger, still something like 250 companies worldwide, you know, developing drones. And so it definitely is about identifying which of those companies we want to work with and target first. And then what are all the ways on an ongoing basis that we can ensure there are some of the most successful companies in this space? Yeah, we definitely have very close relationships with them. Yeah, it’s not about the numbers, it’s more about the relationships.
Bronson: Yeah, no, I’m glad we’re talking about this because I get people are right into the show and they say, look, show me some enterprise stuff. Show me some, you know, this kind of high level, we don’t have a thousand leads. We have ten. What do we do with those? So what are you doing with those relationships? You’ve used the word relationship a few times, so I’m sure it’s high touch, a lot of contact. But what is it? Is it education? Is it hand-holding? Is it something else? What is it you’re doing to kind of get those contracts? And so one of those other 249 companies don’t.
Jonathan: Right. Yeah. It’s it’s everything from, you know, sending our engineers out to be on site with our customers, including internationally. Sometimes it’s, you know, having a constant dialog going about what’s working, what’s not, what is, you know, some of their feature needs or feature requests. And so I think both of, you know, in some cases, our companies treat each other like more of like an extended development team across the two companies, especially early on in this industry. And then also, given that our product is pretty new and then in a lot of cases, their product is pretty new, too, we’re working with a lot of companies who, you know, they only introduced their product maybe one year ago or so as well.
Bronson: When you’re working with so few clients and customers. Are you ever afraid that they’ll dictate the roadmap too much because you’ll end up just building the features that they need and not really the vision for aware? Do you ever kind of feel that tension because there are so few of them?
Jonathan: I think that tension is common and probably a lot of companies, especially enterprise companies. So it’s something we’ve been very conscious of from the very beginning. And so, for example, I think the solution to that is largely an organizational solution. And so, for example, we we have something of a Chinese wall in our organization between sales and marketing and between, you know, engineering development. And so there’s a few key people who are always looking at, okay, what are the requests coming in from customers? What are the things that we know we need to be developing for six months from now, 12 months from now, 18 months from now? And then what’s the the kind of appropriate shuffling of priorities to make sure we’re addressing our customer needs or we’re not getting too sidelined with any one specific customer? Given that what we’re building here is a platform, it’s got to be something that’s benefiting, you know, all of these companies kind of across the board.
Bronson: Yeah. And you use the phrase Chinese wall there. And let me be sure by clear, because I think it’s important in a number of organizations, you know, if you’re running something that’s editorial, you’re not going to have editorial B dealing with the advertisers. So you have a kind of Chinese wall between the two. The journalists don’t talk to advertisers because you don’t want them being influenced by them because sometimes that influence can be really harmful to the core of the corporation. And you’re saying you have kind of a wall between the people worrying about sales and the ones building kind of the roadmap and engineering. And to some degree, that’s healthy for you guys. So I just want to put that thought in people’s heads that maybe your organization, if you’re watching this, might also need a Chinese wall of sorts to keep your sanity and to keep kind of the the fundamental soul of the company alive. Right?
Jonathan: Yeah. I would add to that, though, that that the timing for kind of creating this Chinese wall is important because it’s something that we deliberately didn’t do very early on with our first customers, with our first customers. The line of communication between their engineers and our engineers was very, very much open. And I think that’s important when you and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve made the conscious decision to not roll this product out to a very large number of customers. Early on, we’ve decided to work with only a few customers so that so that we don’t need the Chinese wall right away. So that we can get their issues resolved as quickly and as time as possible, so that we can have kind of the dialog be very open between their engineers and our engineers and be very focused on solving the problems and doing that as quickly as possible. But then as as we’re anticipating rolling this out to a much larger number of customers, you have to come up with an organization that scales and a process that scales.
Bronson: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You know, these these protocols get put in place as we go. You know, the organization, it’s running fast. And, you know, it’s like you’re training for the marathon while you run it. So it’s like you just start going and then eventually you figure out what you need to put in place and at what time. Now you guys have a unique challenge in that in the US right now. Tell me if I’m wrong, but unmanned drones are not legal for commercial use. Is that right?
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s.
Bronson: True. Yeah. So how are you thinking about customer acquisition or do you think about it in the U.S. right now? I mean, what does that do to your organization and how does that really hurt your growth or how are you dealing with that in terms of growth? Talk me through that a little bit.
Jonathan: Sure. So a couple of things. The first is that a lot of our early customer focused efforts are our international. So we’re working with companies in France, Australia, Africa to name a few places. And then within the U.S., there are some companies and some government entities that are allowed to use the drones. There is a process called getting a certificate of authorization. It’s kind of permission to use a drone under a very specific circumstances. And so that exists for certain government entities or researchers or in some cases, universities. So part of it’s doing the research to research, you know, making some of these relationships, finding out, you know, who can be using them now and might be an early kind of pilot for how drones might be used in the United States in one or in two years. But then also, of course, we’re very, very focused on at beginning the relationships and beginning some of the research and development and implementation work now for the companies who are really going to need it in 2015.
Bronson: Yeah. You know, one of things you hear also is that great companies create market share, not just take market share. Do you feel like that you guys, if you do a good job in the U.S. with these early kind of people that have the authorization to work with it, that you could actually be a part of the U.S. opening up more broadly and you could be a part of expanding the market in the U.S. and not just taking global market share. Is that kind of the way you’re seeing it?
Jonathan: Absolutely. And I think one of the issues in the United States is an issue of, you know, regarding kind of politics and legislation. You know, people are concerned about the technology and how it’s going to be used to a large degree because they’re not very familiar with it. They don’t know a lot about it. Someone’s you know, what they know about drones for a lot of people is what they’ve seen on CNN. Right. And drones use in the military and their use abroad. But there’s actually just a ton of very positive uses of drones in ways that drones, I think, are going to be used over the next five years that really are going to positively impact people’s lives. Everything you know, as we talked a little bit about, you know, from agriculture and, you know, increasing crop yields, decreasing water usage and fertilization and fertilizer usage to, you know, getting people out of harm’s way in some dangerous jobs where it’s better for, you know, a person to be up 200 feet in the air inspecting a windmill or something than than a person doing that. And so I think as people see more of these positive uses of drones, I think the perception will change quite a bit.
Bronson: Yeah. Do you think it’s a good sign in terms of growth, that the market isn’t totally open yet, that you’re actually in the process of building a company before a major player is even allowing it legally? Do you think that’s a good sign that you’re in a market with a lot of potential? And I ask because I think other people can take away from that if you think it is a good market. So they’re not just entering markets that are already established and set, you know what I mean?
Jonathan: Yeah, no, definitely. I mean, I think it I think it is a sign that there is the expectation that this is going to be a very large market. But like with any early market, you know, there’s always kind of a fine line to walk of. How early do you want to be? Because a lot of the times the companies who are, you know, quote unquote, first to market or one of the first players in the market are not the companies who end up kind of owning the space in a in a really significant way. So you got to kind of have both ends of that spectrum in mind.
Bronson: Yeah. I don’t know how much you’ve thought about that, but have you noticed any takeaways in terms of which ones end up with the market share? You know, if it’s not because their first is or something they’re doing that you kind of notice like, oh, okay, I want to do that too, whether I’m first or not. Any takeaways there that you’ve noticed?
Jonathan: Not not a specific one that comes to me.
Bronson: Just. Be awesome, right?
Bronson: Well, let me ask you about this.
Jonathan: Your customers are really happy.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s right. Now, you mentioned you have partnerships, and that’s one of the ways you’ve grown. And I read that you have one partnership with in situ. Tell me about that a little bit. What did they do? What are you guys doing with them? And how are you growing the business through that partnership? Because I really don’t know anything about their business at all.
Jonathan: Sure. Yeah. And City is one of the largest players in the small drone space. They have actually more flight time than any other company. They have about 700000 hours flying small drones, mostly for the military in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. But the company was originally created to be a commercial drone company. This is an example of a company, you know, being way ahead of the market. Mm hmm. They initially developed one of their vehicles to actually spot fish for commercial fishing off the coast of Washington and Oregon. And I think found there wasn’t enough of a market at the time for the technology, but there was kind of a market from the military. And so they’ve they’ve been playing in the military space for the last decade or so, and now very much looking again to the commercial markets and how to best kind of get into them and address them. And I think that’s probably a big part of why they’re interested in working with kind of a small, fast moving, nimble company like Air. We’re very much focused on the commercial market. Mm hmm. The way that we’re partnering together is that we’re actually integrating their ground control station software with air, whereas air wear OS and the autopilots so that our customers will actually be able to leverage their ground control station software, which is the software that you can use to control the drone and tell it where to fly and what to look at like that to control vehicles that are flying anywhere else. And they’re flying, you know, our autopilots and our hardware. So that’s it’s kind of the basis of the partnership, something we’re both really excited about. I think it’s a case of, you know, one of the like large incumbents in an industry, you know, partnering with one of the fast moving, you know, startup oriented companies with a lot of the latest and greatest in technology.
Bronson: Yeah. So it really seems like a deep partnership, a deep integration and kind of a foundational level. I mean, you guys are engineering things together in some respects, right?
Jonathan: We are, yeah.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. Let me ask about this. Have you tried any channels to acquire customers that just haven’t worked? Because, you know, as a startup, you’re trying everything. You try this, you try that. You can get a few customers here and there. Has there been anything at the enterprise level that you’ve tried to get new customers that you just you can’t get any traction with it yet?
Jonathan: Not not so much that comes to mind, but I think error is probably a bit of a typical company or a bit different than probably a lot of the ones that you have on growth. Hacker News in that this industry is really at its infancy. And so there aren’t a lot of established channels. And in in a lot of cases, we’re really looking to create some of these channels ourselves.
Bronson: Yeah. Now, you guys recently raised around, I believe it was north of $10 million from it from Andreessen Horowitz. With that money, are you guys basically going to because I know you are very much an engineering company, is that going to just all go back into research and development or are you going to have some growth plans with some of that and try to take market share with some of that? How do you do you see any of that money going toward growth?
Jonathan: It’s definitely a combination of the two. So a lot of our early focus really is on continued research and development. We’ve been hiring a lot of additional engineers onto our team, continuing to develop both our early products as well as other products that are going to be in our product line. And then the other thing that we’re doing is we’re really looking towards some of this future growth that we that we need to have in place, just to address a lot of the customers who are kind of waiting on our product, waiting for us to roll it out to a larger number of customers. And so we’re we’re really kind of gearing up for that, getting things in place, like having a large enough customer support and product implementation team so that we can we can do the things that we need to do, like sending engineers out to be on site with customers, having somebody who’s always available via phone or via email or in person to get, you know, early, early issues addressed without having those go over to the engineering department like we talked about having having something of that Chinese wall in place. And then also, you know, really gearing up our our production and our quality assurance. So those, I think, are kind of the four growth areas that we’re focused on so that we can really get this out to a lot of the customers who have been waiting on it.
Bronson: Yeah. So it’s interesting because a lot of software only companies if you’re just selling. Software over the Internet. There’s a lot of things you don’t have to worry about. Infrastructure is one of them in a lot of cases. You’re not having to build up this physical infrastructure of hardware. You’re not having to build up this engineering team that can go on international sales calls like you’re not having to do a lot of things. But it’s not good or bad. It’s just different. And so every company is built differently. And with you guys, I think for you to grow, I think you’re right. You’re going to have to put a lot of that into just building the nuts and bolts of the organization. And that may not feel like growth. It may not feel like, oh, I found some new hack to get a bunch of new customers. But you can’t grow without that. And so do you like that is a part of your growth, right?
Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely. And I think a big difference is a lot of it, the timelines involved are just there a bit longer than a company that’s purely software.
Bronson: Yeah. I mean, how far how are you guys looking right now? Are you making five year plans and honestly meaning them when you say it or what? Where are you guys? How do you how do you manage time right now?
Jonathan: Yeah, I, I wouldn’t say that we have five year plans. I think we maybe have some five year ideas and have some, you know, one and two year plans right now.
Bronson: Yeah. Now.
Jonathan: I think a lot of our current plans are focused, of course, on the customers we’re already working with and then the customers we’re already kind of engaged with. And and of course, I think the third is, you know, which customers are the ones that we’re looking to engage at a certain point. And what what do we need to be building in terms of kind of the back end technologies to be able to address their needs?
Bronson: Yeah. Now, you’ve mentioned a few times kind of political climate, the social climate around drones, because like you said, all we know is what we hear from CNN. I mean, that’s all I knew until I researched the company. I mean, it really is. I didn’t know about all these commercial applications that have nothing to do with military uses. How do you overcome that? Is it just a matter of educating and who do you educate? Is it educating the public? Is it educating the the businesses that might be able to use your software? They just don’t know it. Like, what are you guys doing to kind of overcome the ignorance in the marketplace?
Jonathan: Yeah, it’s really all three of those educating customers, educating people in the government and educating, I think, the general public about the use of the technology. It’s it’s interesting because we’ve certainly seen examples of of having done this in the past and some of the early ways it’s paid out. You know, we’ve definitely gone to a customer before and said, hey, you know, you guys should really be thinking about how you’re going to be using drones as part of your business. And they said, oh, we you know, drones aren’t part of our business. Why would we do that? And then you kind of have a dialog with them, have a discussion and say, okay, well, because, you know, drones might allow you to do X, Y, Z, and it’s like, oh, gosh, when can we get these? Like we can do that with them. Yeah. So, you know, there’s definitely some education of the customer going on. There’s definitely some education of the public that needs to happen. I think drones, in a lot of ways are similar to the Jeeps. Jeeps was a technology that was developed for the military by the military through military funding. I think, you know, in ten years or 15 years ago, you had asked people on the street, you know, are you willing to carry, you know, one of these GPS devices around in your pocket and someone might potentially know where you are and when you’re there, you said, no, of course not. That’s you know, that’s absurd concern. And now people do it, of course, extremely voluntarily because they see how it benefits them. And if they’ve they’ve grown accustomed to the technology and they understand the other uses for the technology aside from just the military use. So I think that’s that is what I expect to happen. Mm hmm. Something we’re also, to the extent possible, you know, encouraging to happen and letting people know about these other positive uses. And then with the government, you know, there’s a lot of people in the government that, you know, they’re looking to to keep up with this technology and and to get in front of it as much as possible and want to see that it’s used. But of course, we want to see that it’s used in responsible ways.
Bronson: Yeah. You know, I think it’s a great analogy with GPS. I never thought about that, but it makes a lot of sense. But I wanted to get into that topic a little bit because some of the people watching this, they don’t think about education as a way of growing. You have to I guess the only way you’re going to grow in a sense is by educating some of the market. Other people, they just assume everybody knows. But I think education can be a really powerful play, even if you’re not in a drone space or a GPS base ten years ago, it’s still something for people to think about. If you educate the market, they can make informed decisions that help your bottom line. Even if it’s a market that seems like they don’t know what they’re doing, it’s something worth thinking about now. Do you think all of the social and political things around this in a sense kind of scares away competitors? Does it is it kind of like a blue ocean strategy, like you’re going where people aren’t and don’t really want to go just because of where things are at?
Jonathan: It certainly makes the. Barriers to entry, I think a lot higher and the timelines to really see kind of the full benefits in the full power much, much longer. So I think that does you know, it does, you know, prevent the faint of heart, I think, from from getting involved in this industry, at least early on. Yeah.
Bronson: No, that’s great. And that’s something to think about. You know, you might want to go into a market that actually is a little bit scary because that means you can win a chunk of it without everyone with $10 trying to get into it. So it’s good that high, you know, barriers to entry. Now, you guys just announce that you’re opening an office, an office in San Francisco, so you’re going to be hiring that office. What kind of skills are you looking for as you’re a company that’s really thinking about growth? You’re super early in a in a big space potentially. What kind of things are you looking for in applicants to really feed a growing organization?
Jonathan: Well, we’re definitely looking for, you know, a lot of passion in applicants and in a lot of cases, you know, some breadth. You know, developing a drone is a lot different than developing an iPhone app in that the skill sets required across the organization are pretty broad. You know, we have everything from, you know, people developing low level embedded electronics hardware to drivers in low level firmware running on top of that, you know, C, C++, running on a, you know, embedded operating system, running in a Linux operating system, you know, the graphical user interfaces used to control the drones and then of course, all of the mechanical integration. So it’s a it’s a very broad set of interdisciplinary skills. And so we look, of course, for people who have some breadth to them as well as depth in a certain area. And then we also look for people who are we’re very excited about working in an organization where even if they are working on a specific aspect of it, they can they can crossover as needed or they can be involved in other aspects of the project, or they can connect with other people on the team and really understand the other areas of the the technology development as well.
Bronson: Yeah. So what you’re trying to say is that building a platform for drones is a little more complicated than Angry Birds.
Jonathan: Right? I don’t know how complicated Angry Birds is that.
Bronson: You won’t even take a plot shot.
Bronson: That’s great. Well, Jonathan, this has been a great interview. I have one last question for you. You know, you’re in the process of growing the organization. What’s the best advice that you would give to any startup that’s trying to grow now? Obviously, you don’t know the specifics of the organization, so it’s got to be a fortune cookie kind of answer, you know. But at a high level, what advice would you give a growing startup?
Jonathan: Yeah, I mean, be very focused on on getting the best people, the people in your organization. I think more than almost anything else, our way will probably make it successful or not. And it’s also one of the most unchangeable aspects. You can change your business plan. You can change in some cases who your investors are. You can change who some of your customers are. The people in your organization are are probably there to stay. And so I think it’s something our has done really well. It’s one of our major strengths. And so I would say, you know, of course, focus on that and of course, you know, most, most all good companies are very focused on that. Another is that, you know, get the right customers early on, don’t focus necessarily on getting as many customers as possible, but a few really good customers that you can kind of learn a lot from and really kind of rapidly iterate on your product and really, you know, improve your product quickly over time, making those customers very happy. It’s it’s better to have a few customers who really love you and will be advocates for you than it is to have a lot of customers who feel kind of mediocre about your company. Yeah, it pays off when it comes time to get more customers. And then it also can potentially pay off when you’re when you’re, for example, trying to convince investors that what you’re doing is the right thing. If you have a few solid customers who really understand the value that you’re adding to their organization, it’s really helpful in that respect.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great advice then, Don. Jonathan, thank you so much for coming on Growth.
Jonathan: A.V Yeah, thanks so much for having me.