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Jonathan Downey Airware


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Jonathan Downey's great presentation. Pure gold for any start up!

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Jonathan Downey Airware

  1. 1. 10 things I wish I knew when starting a commercial drone startup May 9, 2014 Jonathan Downey Founder & CEO
  2. 2. My Background
  3. 3. Airware Now • 47 people in San Francisco, CA • $15M raised from • Platform for Commercial Drones • Hardware • Software • Cloud • (Not Drones :)
  4. 4. 10 Things I Wish I Knew
  5. 5. Good ideas are plentiful. It’s all about execution.1
  6. 6. It’s about execution • We announced what we were building at AUVSI in 2011 • The rest of the stuff is the hard part • Getting the best people • Raising money • Developing a complex product • Learning the things you don’t know • Keeping your company aligned and organized • Understanding what is most valuable to your customer
  7. 7. Don’t worry too much (or too little) about competitors.2
  8. 8. Competitors • Most startups fail because of internal reasons • Don’t worry too much: • Some will be acquired • Others will focus on sales of existing products • Others will run out of money, be poorly managed, or hire too many B-players • Others will fail for all kinds of other reasons • In emerging high-growth industries, rising tides float all boats • Don’t worry too little: • Understand what your real competitive advantages are • Always confirm you’re building the right thing
  9. 9. Optimize for likelihood of success.3
  10. 10. Likelihood of success Startups often optimize for many other things: • Early revenue • Valuation Instead, optimize for likelihood of success in all things: • Who you hire & how you compensate them • Who you sell to & when • When you release your product • Where you are locate your company
  11. 11. Investors are not all equal. And some help is better than money can buy!4
  12. 12. Investors What makes a great investor: • Operational experience • Experience failing • Resources beyond just money • Helps you see what’s down the road and plan for it • Helps you be the best CEO possible
  13. 13. Start by doing things that don’t scale.5
  14. 14. At first, don’t scale • Work very closely with early Beta customers • You get better feedback • You can make your product better • They’ll love you for it and be advocates
  15. 15. Not all customers are equal.6
  16. 16. Not all customers are equal • How to pick early customers • Don’t go with the biggest customer, the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th largest will be more motivated to find any way they can be better • Focus on how much you can learn by working with them, not on potential revenue • Work with a company who is more interested in what you will have in a year than in what you have now • Focus on companies who need you the most • Geographic proximity is good (oops)
  17. 17. Find opportunities to be your own customer.7
  18. 18. Learn by being your own customer • Benefits of this: • Very rapid product feedback • You’ll find bugs before a real customer • You’ll learn more about your customer’s needs • Ol Pejeta Conservancy • Led to rapid improvements in our software and the demonstration of sophisticated capabilities • Rotating employees into flight test schedule
  19. 19. Hiring is a great team is really tough.8
  20. 20. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 May-11 Aug-11 Nov-11 Feb-12 May-12 Aug-12 Nov-12 Feb-13 May-13 Aug-13 Nov-13 Feb-14 Full-time employees at Airware
  21. 21. What you need to learn about hiring • Knowing when to hire • Have someone do the job of the missing role, make them the hiring manager • Knowing who to hire • Know your own weaknesses, complement the • Hire people who can hire more people • Finding great people • Deciding between functional expertise, domain expertise, and passion • Treat hiring as a product • Putting someone in charge of it • Continuously improve it • Treat it with the same priority and enthusiasm
  22. 22. Hiring is just the start of building a great team.9
  23. 23. Hiring is just the start Core Values • Help align your organization around hiring • Keep you moving in the same direction • Don’t wait to do this – core values are a must! OKRs • Align your team • Clarify priorities and goals Every company is different, learn what will make your company better and start early!
  24. 24. Productivity Hacks10
  25. 25. CEO Productivity Hacks • A great ATS - Greenhouse • Digital note taking - Livescribe • Email prioritization - Asana chrome plugin • Almost any process can start in Trello • Start your day early (Oops) 4 week period
  26. 26. A final lesson
  27. 27. You don’t need to know everything to start. • There are a few constants • It will start small • You won’t know everything • It will not go exactly as planned • When I started Airware: • Strong technical background • Knew what the customer problem was • Knew what we wanted to build to solve that problem • Hopelessly naive about what it would take • Still don’t know everything I’ll need to learn for 2014
  28. 28. Up Next for Airware
  29. 29. Up next for Airware • Exhibiting at AUVSI North America • New website and blog • More details about upcoming products • Still hiring for hardware, firmware, software, and web roles
  30. 30. Questions?