A brief history — academy dorms
Ronny, Ori and I (Tomer) have known each other for over a decade. We met at the elite Israeli Air Force program, “Talpiot”. Imagine the love child of MIT and Westpoint Officer’s Academy, with some Israeli flavor.
We were all in the same dorms, and over time we started bonding over our mutual love for emerging technologies and other “geeky” stuff. We were constantly eager to challenge ourselves with complex problems — especially those that are interdisciplinary or data-intensive in nature, that require deep understanding and some AI to solve efficiently.
It was great being a part of the air force because we all loved everything that flies, and over time, it was only natural that our “flight bug” will expand to the emerging drone industry. We started collecting drones and flying them into stuff, I even got certified as a Part-107 FAA drone operator.
Realizing the pain
As I got my certification, I started talking to a lot of operators and drone geeks — both recreational (yet serious) pilots, as well as commercial operators. The more people I talked to, the more I started feeling like there are several major problems in the drone industry. First and foremost — safety.
Many operators, especially the more professional ones, felt that safety wasn’t prominent in such a young, growing industry. Many pilots fly in a risky way, don’t care about maintenance, and endanger themselves, their equipment, and bystanders they fly next to (or above). This led to the second pain — which is regulation.
As the entry barrier for getting into the drone business kept getting lower, with amazing pieces of technology like DJI being sold at great prices, the mass appeal — combined with lack of safety, started drawing the attention of regulators (such as the FAA). This led to certification requirements, prohibited airspaces, and specific regulation, slowing down growth and setting the bar higher, forcing even skilled pilots to spend time and money on getting certifications, passing exams, and investing less time doing what they love — flying.
Enter the third, and final pain — insurance.
Drone insurance is broken. There’s no real other way to say it. Let’s say you buy a $1,500 DJI drone and want to get it insured. A traditional broker would charge you around $1,000 a year — regardless of whether you fly it every day or once a month. Not to mention a complicated policy with more caveats than covered areas… Commercial operators need insurance — but for many of them, the way it works simply pushes them out of having a job!
Realizing the solution
As we've talked to operators and started hearing their pains, we realized that we can create an elegant solution for all of these issues at once — safety, compliance and insurance. We started building a platform that takes into account real-time drone telemetry data, combining it with open-source data about weather, precipitation, traffic and many more sources, and seeing how it all connects.
We let a few select pilots play around with the initial product, and using their feedback, we came up with the first iteration of our product — a platform that allows drone operators to receive real-time hazard warnings, feedback and actionable insights on how they fly. This soon turned into the post-flight analysis, in which we compiled all data together to build a “Safety Score” for each flight — so operators can learn and improve over time, making sure they fly safer every time. To that, we added pre-flight planning, which allows you to see potential risks before you even take off — and Voila! — we had a holistic flight solution for drone service providers!
Fast-forward to now
Time went by and we started assembling a team of amazing people around us, combining multiple disciplines together to fine-tune the initial idea. We started reaching out to investors, and soon found amazing folks at Kaedan, F2 Capital, and Verizon Ventures — 3 amazing teams of talented visionaries that saw the potential of our platform, and decided to back us.
We’re proud to announce our $2M seed round, and the Beta launch of our safety platform — the world’s first telemetry-based analytics platform for drones, and a new era in setting a safety standard for UAVs. We’re firm believers that software can solve many problems, and we truly believe that SkyWatch can change how the world perceives drones and the safety hazards they represent.
Looking to the future
We still have many plans and the road ahead is long yet bright. With the investment we raised, and the backing of the wonderful VC’s behind us, we’re ready to take our platform to the next level — and add a usage-based insurance component that fits beautifully to our risk analytics platform.
With SkyWatch’s planned release, we’re aiming to offer operators usage-based, on-demand immediate insurance coverage that is priced exactly for their needs. But furthermore — with our unique data analysis capabilities and our proprietary safety score we can actually offer operators coverage that is tailored for their risk profile — why settle for pay “when” you fly, when you can pay “how” you fly? This emerging, exciting new market is bound to make a huge impact on our world, and safety is one of its most important pillars. We are proud be the technological enabler for it.
CEO & Co-Founder, SkyWatch.AI
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