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Sunflower Labs wants to be the ADT of Home Drone Surveillance: An Interview with the Founder
Sunflower Labs is using drone technology in ways that were not possible or even thought of a few years ago. We interviewed Alex Pachikov, the co-founder and CEO of Sunflower, about his home surveillance solution.
Some estimates have the home surveillance market at 45 billion dollars in 2018 worldwide – and growing. According to the website statista, the total estimated market for 2019 is over 50 billion dollars; with North America at 12.3 billion, EMEA at 5 billion, South America at 6.8 billion, and China at 23.4 billion dollars. Sunflower Labs is planning to fulfill some of that demand.
DroneLife: How did you come up with the idea of a home surveillance solution?
“It’s a long story, but the short version is that I live next to a forest and there are constant noises at night. It’s probably mostly animals, but sometimes you hear something and don’t know what it is unless you walk out there – there is no way to see in the pitch black dark. I have been a drone enthusiast for years, and I kept thinking that it would be cool to just fly out with one of my drones to see what is making all the noise. But that wasn’t practical with consumer drones for many reasons. So my co-founder, Chris, and I decided to try to build something ourselves. One thing led to another, and we ended up raising some funding and building the system that we are demonstrating today.”
DroneLife: What stage of development is the product?
“We are currently in active development. We have built several working systems for testing and demonstrations. The next step is to start scaling up and building our beta system that we plan to deploy at multiple locations for potential customers and partners.”
DroneLife: When do you hope that you will get a product out on the market?
“We have not announced shipping dates yet, but we are steadily making progress toward that. We will continue to share our progress and will share the shipping dates when we are closer.”
DroneLife: Will I be able to buy this at my local big box store like Lowes or Home Depot, or from security companies?
“Ultimately yes, but initially it will be available from our website directly and via a select set of local installers and resellers. We are currently in discussion with a number of distribution partners and happy to talk to more.”
DroneLife: You mentioned you were shooting for the home market first, and then commercial. Please tell us more about that.
“We think there is potential for our technology in many different markets, but we want to start with high-end residential initially because we have a lot of demand there and we believe it is a market we can reach faster — this is very important for a start-up. But we are exploring what we can do in other markets as well, mostly via strategic partnerships.”
DroneLife: Are you selling a total solution of all of your own components or are you using off-the shelf components / drones?
“The entire solution is our own unique design – and we plan to offer it as a complete package. Our entire system is designed for reliable landings and automatic recharging. The unique shape of our drone, complementary landing station, and nearly everything else is essentially derived from that design requirement. And our entire system is built to be very tightly integrated.
However, we are open to integrating our system with other sensors and security solutions. We have already built support for integrating our video into commercial video management systems (VMS), as well integrations with Siri and HomeKit.”
DroneLife: You are based in the US. Is the plan to roll out in the US first and then in other countries? If so, to the degree that you can please share what other parts of the world are you targeting?
“Currently, we have 2 offices. One in San Francisco and one in Zurich, Switzerland. Our initial target market is US and potentially Switzerland, but we plan to quickly expand to make the system available in other countries.”
DroneLife: What came up in the development that you did not anticipate?
“The list of what we did not anticipate is very long. It has been very challenging to secure financing, find an office where we can fly and test constantly, secure necessary components, and rapidly build, test and iterate on our prototypes. But the most channeling I think, is building the right team that is excited to take on these challenges. I am very proud of the team we have – they have solved every problem we’ve had so far.”
DroneLife: What of interest to our readers would you like to tell us that I have not already asked?
“We believe that this is the right time to build the next generation of security solutions. The security industry has not advanced at the same rate as all other technologies in our lives. We are currently at the foothills of enormous advances in robotics, autonomy, and AI. The system that we are building seems radical today, and was not possible just a few years ago, but in a few years from now – it will be as ubiquitous as self-tying shoes and hoverboards.”