Recently Remote Intelligence had the opportunity to apply for a some grant funding via Mission Main Street, from Chase. The application asked some fantastic questions. We thought we'd take the opportunity to share some of these answers with you.
1. Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.
Remote Intelligence, LLC, is a small business in rural Pennsylvania that focuses its talents in wildlife biology, management, and conservation mapping with the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS or Drones). To utilize these systems we have invested in sophisticated equipment, computers, mapping software, marketing materials, and hiring an operations tech. We desire to continue to expand on our rapport of performing safe missions while delivering quality mapping and imagery. We help clients improve Ecosystem Conservation Services by providing 3D topographic mapping, wildlife density surveys, habitat monitoring, wetland surveys, agricultural crop surveys, etc. We assist the Conservation in Energy Development industry by performing mapping and surveys that help determine where NOT to develop, saving habitat and species that are sensitive. Our clients are diverse, ranging from energy developers and engineers to tourism promotion agencies and conservation non-profits. Our competition is minimal presently, but this is a growth market. Some traditional mapping and engineering firms are experimenting with adding unmanned aerial services to their offerings, but the required investment in equipment, software, and experience favors a firm such as ours focused on this technology to provide the services in a safe and quality manner.
2. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.
I (Phil) have always been fascinated in technology helping people. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I was greatly inspired by my father, who owned a small construction company and later a general store. He was able to provide for our family while also serving the community. This demonstrated the value of community-minded small businesses and inspired me to start my own. Our partners have been testing and using drones for over 10 years, and creating other successful startups (Wildlife Specialists, Tioga Window Washing, Steward Green). As Remote Intelligence, we pioneered estimating deer and other large mammal densities with UAS-based thermal imaging to inform wildlife biologists and community planners working to reduce vehicular collisions or diseases, and support habitat conservation. We also mapped sensitive wildlife habitats like Bald Eagle or American Alligator nests with minimal disturbance. In the energy development field RI has provided useful project mapping and monitoring services, and we are working with our clients and university partners to integrate new sensors and technology to address more of their needs efficiently and safely. We have been challenged by identifying equipment and processes to provide reliable and safe results at higher-quality and more economically than traditional techniques.
3. How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.
Remote Intelligence has helped the community of Wellsboro in Tioga County, PA in a number of ways. Upon request, we have investigated natural disasters such as floods to assist in emergency response. RI has demonstrated thermal imaging to simulate snowmobile search and rescues in the mountainous wild, another tool to aid in a real life situation locally. We hire and train local residents with interest and potential in a new tech industry; this is important in our rural farming community that has been depressed economically. We provide discounted imaging services to the county Visitors Bureau and local businesses to highlight the region’s recreational features and attract visitors for economic development. We teach classes on operating drones safely, speak to school and community groups, and perform demonstrations for little or no charge. Our mapping missions help to conserve the natural environment in this region so dependent on the ecology of the area. Remote Intelligence has supported student projects at Cedarville University as an investment in the future. We are forming a non-profit to channel a portion of our proceeds, and UAS services, to areas of need worldwide for humanitarian efforts.
4. What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.
Remote Intelligence has recently completed Phase I of our growth plan, hired limited staff (partners have been donating their time), bought military grade professional drone systems, developed our services, applied for a Section 333 Exemption from FAA, and secured our first several clients in diverse sectors, with a strong emphasis in the energy development field. Our next phase of growth requires us to produce quality mapping, thermal imaging, and other specialized surveys for larger clients who have expressed a desire to work with us. In order to meet their needs, we need to hire more staff, integrate more drones with specialized optics, and purchase more software licenses. The FAA will also soon introduce regulations to ensure operational safety of UAS. While we welcome the regulations, we also need to prepare for compliance. Specifically we need to complete instruction for 2-3 pilots’ licenses. We need to add employees (4-6), new UA Systems (3),a LIDAR sensor, a Gas leak sensor, an Agricultural Crop Soil sensor, and additional licenses for our preferred mapping software. These funds would position us to move into a sustainable level, from which we could grow and expand our services and impact.
5. What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?
For the next 12-18 months this grant would greatly increase our ability to remain loyal to our growth plan, our clients, our employees, and the community by allowing us to continue to grow and train others in this growing industry while providing the services currently being requested by our clients. Currently we do not have the funding necessary to make this “leap” that needs to happen in the next couple of months, transitioning from a startup to a sustainable operation. In our longer term plan we intend to expand operations nationally and internationally, yet keep our home base in rural Pennsylvania where we have started. Future plans include working across the US and globally, especially in 3rd world countries such as Liberia (we have meetings there next month) to create systems that can deliver blood samples and medical supplies to and from remote areas that desperately need this service. We also plan to develop a disaster response team that can be mobilized globally to aid in emergency response needs. We have begun and plan to continue to support teaching programs in colleges and universities, to encourage students to join us in this high tech industry as pilots, operators, and entrepreneurs.