When I went to The Mill pitch event in June 2015, I was fascinated by Fluttrbox and its applications. In my research into the semi-finalists for Start Up of the Year, Botlink caught my eye.
Botlink is a cloud-based app which allows drone operation from a mobile device. I will freely admit my lack of knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of drone operation. Instead, I will focus on the utility of the market and other players.
Botlink is software for drone operation. It is important to recognize the differences between them and companies like Fluttrbox and Skycall. These products would use a platform like Botlink to perform the tasks they seek to accomplish.
Comparable software platforms include Airware and DroneDeploy both based in San Francisco. Each has good financial backing with solid teams of founders. Check Angel list for Airware and DroneDeploy info.
Terri Zimmerman is listed on the website as the CEO. Her LinkedIn profile shows her as the CEO of Packet Digital for the last two years. She has also been on the board of the North Dakota Development Fund since 2004.
Quickly scanning her profile and searching information about Packet Digital reveals her technical background in the field. She is a proven fundraiser and leader for this idea.
Shawn Muehler is the COO on the website. His LinkedIn profile lists him as CEO. Shawn has a background in the Air Force as a pilot. He has experience with multiple manned and unmanned aircraft including Predator drones.
Andrew Paulsen is the main software designer. He is listed as the Director of Advanced Technology on the site and his LinkedIn profile. He came from Packet Digital where he developed software as well. He works with Alexander Kube on the platform.
The Rest of the Details
Botlink raised $500,000 in seed funding from anonymous local investors as indicated HERE. Emerging Prairie also announced in June that Packet Digital had partnered with Botlink to raise $5 million to 15$ million more.
There is no listing on Angel List for Botlink. I also could not find any listing of incubators or accelerators who were involved with Botlink.
The drone market is full of growth. The utility of the idea is excellent. The need for up to date geographical info is constant. There wouldn't be two San Francisco-based start ups in the mix if this wasn't a great place to be.
The structure of the company looks great. Shawn, Andrew, and Alexander probably came up with the idea then realized they didn't have the business acumen to bring it to life. Terri Zimmerman has the background, skills , and leadership to make it happen. She has worked with technology geeks for many years at Packet Digital.
Terri Zimmerman is the management brains of this idea. She has developed a network over her career that puts her in the room with many powerful people. Raising $300 million to expand Packet Digital into a major electronics company to win a $900 million government contract is a real accomplishment.
She has also spent time around technology people and understands the relationships necessary to collaborate. The teamwork here is another great indicator of success.
When Botlink announced their second round of fundraising, their stated goal was to develop a solar powered drone with 4x the flight duration above the average drone. There are plenty of ways to go with this concept, and I bet we are still on the front edge of this market with plenty of growth to come.