Tell us about yourself?
I’m a husband, father, entrepreneur, and one of the first people in the world to hold U.S. patents on a smart mailbox capable of secure package delivery and storage by autonomous or traditional means.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
That they don’t have what it takes to lead one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a difficult thing, but I believe that when anyone has a great idea for a product or service, at least 10 other people, somewhere in the world at the same time, have also thought of it.
The thing that separates the dreamers from the doers is doing what it takes to execute on the idea and get it to market. I’ve been beaten before by acting too slowly on an idea. Not so with Dronedek. I beat the USPS and Amazon to the patent office by a matter of days.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Act faster on good ideas. In the past, I’ve had ideas that I sat on for a bit only to see others take them to market.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Boy. That’s a hard one. I think, maybe, if there’s anything I’d say stands out is that I truly do want to know and interact with everyone who invests with Dronedek or has an idea about how to make it better.
I give my phone number and email out to anyone who seems curious, and I truly do want to talk with them. I can perhaps meet someone who can help me along, or I can help them. It’s a big world. We need to help each other more.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
I don’t sleep much, so I tend to stay up-to-date on things, which is important, but probably the smartest thing I’ve done is to hire a team that I can trust to do the things that I don’t hold an expertise over.
Empowering them to succeed is good for me, it’s good for the company, and it’s good for them.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
I’m an entrepreneur with a conservative fiscal approach and a fairly liberal social philosophy. I believe most people are well-intentioned and given the chance will do the right thing.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We plan to have Dronedek smart mailboxes deployed throughout the United States and elsewhere in the world, with a thriving subscription service business model and in the first position globally for secure package delivery and smart mailboxes.
Where you see US, USPS mailboxes now, you’ll also see Dronedek smart mailboxes.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Regulations. We need regulators across the world to bring their rules and guidelines up to the speed and enable drone delivery wherever it can be safely done.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
We recently had a great first phase of our inaugural pilot program with the United States Postal Service and the city of Lawrence, Ind., which featured the world’s first delivery of First-Class mail to a Dronedek smart mailbox and drone deliveries of local restaurants including McDonald’s and Culver’s.
It couldn’t have gone better, and we’ve since been fielding inquiries from every major delivery company and a lot of major retailers.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
People are finding us via social media at @dronedek, earned media, on our website at www.dronedek.com, and general word-of-mouth.
Our entire team works hard to get the word out, but I probably outpace most of them.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Don’t quit. It can be really tempting to give up, but don’t do it. Persevere through those hard parts. It’s worth it.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
We hope the future brings a day when package delivery is truly secure whatever form it takes, and that Dronedek smart mailboxes are a common utility. Along the way, we’re going to help build out our services on cellular networks and with the LoRaWAN network.
We’ll recharge drones and other electric devices so they can keep flying or driving, and we’ll provide an emergency alert system to help get people the help they need faster.