For Immediate Release
December 13, 2015
Austin startup Aerial Productions, a social venture and drone services company took First Place in the 2015 International Drone Expo Pitch Competition in Los Angeles on December 11th. The IDE Drone Pitch Competition is an initiative to encourage entrepreneurship, small business growth, and innovation in the unmanned vehicle category. The panel of judges included representatives from some of the top Venture Capital firms in the aerospace industry, includingQualcomm Ventures, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lux Capital, AECOM, LightSpeed Accelerator, Starburst Accelerator, PortTech,Pasadena Angels, and AirMap.io.
“Drones are one of the hottest early-state investment segments since the Internet boom,” said Keith Kaplan, co-founder and CEO of UAVSA and CEO of the Tesla Foundation. “IDE’s 2015 Drone Pitchfest may decide who will be the next drone billionaire.”
Aerial Productions has a simple business plan that is anything but – providing commercial drone photography, pilot training and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle repair services. The Deaf-owned company however, is a social venture committed to creating opportunities for the diverse deaf, hard of hearing and wider disabled community of talented individuals- of which there is a 61% unemployment rate. Over $3 billion is invested each year in state vocational rehabilitation programs for disabled individuals, and Aerial Productions plans to leverage these and similar programs to create high-paying jobs.
Awards and prizes including a 12-week drone accelerator program were given to the top three winners, with Aerial Productions scoring highest in the competition standing out among stiff competitors. “You might think that it was the ‘feel good’ nature which won over the panel of top-end venture capitalists,” said Enrico Schaefer, founding attorney of DroneLaw.pro, “but it wasn’t the government subsidies or altruistic ‘social investment’ nature of the presentation that pushed them to the top of the podium. It was the presentation itself which stood out, delivered by cofounder Anthony Mowl who has been Deaf since birth. His presentation of their business plan was thoughtful, detailed and covered all aspects of a successful drone start-up company.”
Aerial Productions CEO Hector Brual sees the win as an opportunity to show the drone industry – which is projected to produce 100,000 new jobs by 2020 – that there is a place for the Deaf in the emerging and rapidly growing space. “We started this company because we believe in job creation, and we now have the opportunity to not only inspire a new career path for Deaf individuals, but to actually prepare them for a career in Unmanned Aerial Systems. We plan to work closely with the FAA and other industry partners to ensure that we are training and deploying a competent workforce prepared for safe and skillful flight operations.”
Cofounder and entrepreneur Anthony Mowl found the win to be one of the most inspiring moments of his career. “We understand our community very well, and we know what we are capable of- but it always feels as if the odds are stacked against us. Hector and I have been Deaf since birth and American Sign Language is our first language, unfortunately we don’t have the privileges that others have when it comes to raising capital. Standing in front of the judging panel felt like a win in itself because our pitch was so different than the competition, who were pitching hardware and software solutions. I was stunned when they announced Aerial Productions had won the competition outright. We were pitching a mission that they believed in: Let’s create opportunities where there previously were none.”
Aerial Productions will be rolling out its suite of drone services in early 2016, pending approval of its Section 333 Exemption petition, first offering aerial photography and 3D mapping for real estate, events and commercial clients before introducing its repair services and drone academy. The drone academy will be open to all drone enthusiasts for both recreational training as well as career preparation, regardless of age, communication mode or ability. For more information, visit www.aerial.productions.
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Learn more about the IDE Pitchfest: http://www.intdroneexpo.com/idepitchfest/