This article was originally published in TechCrunch on Aug. 5, 2016.
Let the commercial drones fly! At last, new regulations that will lower the barriers to entry for the commercial operation of drones. The challenge for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been to establish a framework of rules to regulate how small unmanned aircraft systems (small UAS or drones) can be used safely in the US air space without undermining the growth of innovative drone-based technology solutions.
The FAA has finally released its new rules Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems which will be added as a new section (Part 107) to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) to allow for safe commercial operations of drones. The view from industry is that the FAA’s final rules will successfully fuel the proliferation of drone technology for non-recreational applications. This brings enormous excitement to those commercial markets that may be disrupted due to the benefits of drone operations.
See how infrared camera equipped drones are being used to improve crop yield in Vision takes flight in commercial unmanned aerial vehicles.
The fast-growing industry of commercial drones is not waiting for the new FAA rules to be finalized in mid-to-late 2016. Already, a spectrum of businesses have started exploring what will likely be the future commercial use of drones. These uses include precision agriculture, power transmission inspection, construction surveying, real estate photography and mapping. Precision agriculture is seen as one of the most promising commercial markets. Large rural farm areas are a perfect fit for drone technology where privacy and safety issues are less of a concern. This article describes a company that closes the loop with fertilization and irrigation systems by equipping drones with infrared cameras and other sensors to survey crops, monitor for disease and provide data for precision-sprayed pesticides and fertilizers.
This article was originally published in TechCrunchon Nov. 20, 2015.
Startup accelerators are an excellent way for early stage startups to get up to speed quickly, identifying their best growth strategy and a reasonable plan to achieve it. The number of accelerators has dramatically increased over the past few years, with many new programs appearing in large metropolitan areas rich with startups.
At the same time, competition for participation in these accelerators has increased, as evidenced by the growing number of applications from startups clamoring for a coveted spot in the accelerator’s next cohort. But is participation in an accelerator program the best next step for all startups? What are the pros and cons of participation?
More and more early-stage startups are seeking accelerators to help them quickly identify their best growth strategy and launch them with a plan to achieve it. Over the past few years, many new accelerators have appeared that target specific types of startup and deliver a more rewarding experience. Three distinct types of accelerators have emerged. One type aligns with startups targeting specific markets (“vertical accelerators”). A second type aligns with startups targeting specific technologies and products (“horizontal accelerators”). Accelerators operated by specific companies (“corporate accelerators”) make up a third type. These focused accelerators develop a strong program around their theme, build ties to a theme-aligned mentor network, and solidify relationships with investors actively engaged in the accelerator’s theme. The resulting accelerator ecosystem is better able to assist these specific types of startups, optimizing the probability of success for the startup and the accelerator.
Both accelerators and incubators help young firms grow by providing guidance, but in different ways. Accelerators are quite different, however. It’s useful to understand how they are different and why it’s important.
Today’s startup accelerators are more commonly designed around a specific theme. In general, there are three distinct types of accelerators. One type aligns themselves with startups targeting specific markets (“vertical accelerators”). A second type aligns themselves with startups targeting specific technologies/product-types (“horizontal accelerators”). A third type is operated directly or indirectly by specific companies (“corporate accelerators”). These focused accelerators need to develop a strong program around their theme, building a strong, aligned mentor network, and solidifying rewarding relationships with active investors, both the accelerator and the cohorts benefit.