A few months back at a group dinner, someone asked what areas OATV was interested in these days. At the time, I gave an answer that set the table back on its heels a bit- Drones.
I went on to explain that we were seeing a ton of activity around drones with the alpha geek crowd. Visit any hacker space or Maker Faire these days and you will see drones in all of their varieties. And if you’re familiar with our investing philosophy, you’d understand that when we see these flare ups of activity, particularly among hobbyists, that we take note and begin to form our own thoughts around where commercial opportunities might emerge.
As we dug into the UAV market I reached out to Chris Anderson, best known as the Editor in Chief at Wired Magazine and NTY best selling author, but less known as the founder of DIY Drones, the largest open source community for UAV enthusiasts.
It turns out that this little side project of his, that started as a Ning Group he’d setup over a weekend, had grown into a thriving community that had spawned a commercial company to bring some of their ideas to market. On nights and weekends he’d recruited a fantastic team who’d built out a modern manufacturing facility that they were on the cusp of growing out of and, as we talked, he was itching to do more.
In that first meeting, with funding not even on his mind, it was clear that this side project had taken hold of Chris and that his heart was set on making it far more than just something to fill his nights and weekends. As one point as I pushed him on where this market could possibly be going Chris, bubbling with enthusiasm, leaned forward and said “mommas don’t let your babies grow up to be pilots”. I loved that. And it struck me that this was an opportunity where hobbyist enthusiasm could have an enormous impact on massive markets. It was clear Chris and his team saw the same.
It’s inspiring to see what Chris and his team have built with such limited time and resources. Now, fully funded and full-time, they’re in a great position to execute on the larger vision they have for the future of UAVs and robotics. And we couldn’t be happier to be involved.