In a gold rush, the biggest winner is Levi Strauss.
Vinveli-logo-HiRes1That’s the philosophy guiding the founders of Vinveli, a company that joined the Iowa Startup Accelerator to build software to manage drones.
Responding to intense demand from the private sector, the FAA is actively working to release regulations for the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles in commercial airspace. When the market opens to commercial drones, users of those aircraft will need fleet management software, and cities and regions will need a flight grid to see what’s in the air.
“We don’t build drones, but we want to be the company that builds infrastructure for drones to be in the air constantly,” said Yuan Qu, co-founder of Vinveli and an aerospace engineer by trade.
Qu met Gokul Anandayuvaraj, a fellow aerospace engineer, and Eshan Halekote, who is a current student in electrical engineering, working in the Texas Spacecraft Lab at the University of Texas-Austin.
“Our business definitely comes out of a passion for the technology, first and foremost,” Halekote said.
Anandayuvaraj is slated to arrive in Cedar Rapids this week; complications from starting a business while in the country on a student visa forced him to miss the first few weeks of ISA programming.
Vinveli is trying to break into an industry that is brand new – and relatively foreign to most people. The co-founders hope that early adopters of the technology can show how the technology can be a positive – whether the aircraft are delivering packages or directing traffic.
“There’s a lot of unknowns – that can be scary for people” Halekote said. “The biggest challenge is showing people it can be useful.”
In the future, the co-founders hope that unmanned aerial vehicles can help society tremendously. In addition to eliminating some errands, the vehicles could be useful in making agriculture more efficient, helping to feed the world.
“When you say value in the context of starting a business, people think of money. It’s really bringing social value,” Halekote said. “How can we make the process of being human more efficient, how can we use technology to bring social value to as many people as we can?”
The team looked at accelerator programs around the world before coming to Iowa. The mentors and community have been supportive, they said.
“Coming from Texas, we know what it means to have pride for your state, but a lot of people here are proud to be from Iowa,” Halekote said.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com