Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

EECS Alums are Flying High with Drone Startup Skyspecs

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SkySpecs Drone

SkySpecs, the startup that develops and produces autonomous aerial vehicles for commercial and industrial use, continues to grow within the drone industry.
 
The founders are current CSE graduate student Sam DeBruin, CE alum Ryan Morton, as well as two aerospace engineering alums, Danny Ellis and Tom Brady. The startup, staffed heavily with EECS alumni, is only 2 years old, but it has already raised thousands of dollars from investors.

Ryan Morton, roboticist and CTO, states, “The University of Michigan provided me with multiple avenues to learn and experience the skills required for entrepreneurship. As a PhD student in the APRIL robotics lab I learned about understanding the whole problem and asking tough questions. I slipped away from working on research to augment these skills with some great engineering, law, business, and entrepreneurship courses outside my specific subject area with world-class instruction. I sat in on classes, seminars, and interesting talks that piqued my broad interests. Entrepreneurship is all about learning broad topics, moving quickly on priorities, and making connections, and UM prepared me well in all these areas.”

L-R: Danny Ellis, Tom Brady, and Sam DeBruin accept their first place price of $500K at Accelerate Michigan

Most recently, SkySpecs won the first place prize of $500,000 in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition on November 6th. The competition is an international business competition designed to bring together later stage entrepreneurial companies with local, national and international investors. The founders state, “rather than use the $500k to extend our runway, we plan on using these funds to do more, faster. These resources will allow us launch a beta-program to get our product into the hands of drone pilots. We will also increase our operational tempo with some new hires to help us improve our current technology and business processes.”

In October, SkySpecs also joined a four-month accelerator program in New York City through the R/GA Accelerator Program, which is powered by TechStars. TechStars has a global network of 100+ venture capitalists and successful entrepreneurs that help 10 lucky companies in each program. The accelerator program is designed for startups developing connected hardware products and software services with the goal of helping them build their businesses and brands. 

With the help of the program, SkySpecs is currently in the process of launching their first product, the Guardian. This product will help prevent collisions from aerial drones, buildings, trees, people, etc. through their object detection and avoidance system. The Guardian will be beneficial in the future as the number of drones in the sky increases.

With their new product, they are tapping into a market with few competitors, and SkySpecs will continue to position themselves as the gold standard for sense and avoid technology.


Posted: November 10, 2014