E Taking Flight With Up Sonder

We had the opportunity to interview Derek Waleko, CEO and founder of Up Sonder, the startup paving the way for affordable drone services.


Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and Up Sonder?

A: I’m the Co-founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based drone services marketplace, UpSonder.com. Businesses use Up Sonder to book qualified drone pilots in their direct area for aerial data on projects in the real estate, oil & gas, and the architecture, engineering, & construction industries.

I have a love for the sky and am an FAA certified commercial drone pilot. Before turning my hobby into a career, I traveled the world living in Paju, South Korea; Barcelona, Spain; and Manhattan, New York. My travels led me to investment banking where I learned about what made a good company and how successful management teams operate. All of which has provided valuable insight I keep with me today with my own company, Up Sonder. Originally from Texas, I grew up on my family's ranch raising cattle and attended Texas Tech University where I met my wife, Sandy. Today I live in Los Angeles with her and our daughter Waverley and son Thatcher.
 

Q: When was Up Sonder first launched and what gave you the idea for it?

A:
Up Sonder was first launched as a company in October of 2015, and our marketplace for drone services went live in March of 2017. I first came up with the idea on my family ranch in Texas. One day my mother, who has a debilitating illness that restricts her movement, ran out of her medication. I thought to myself this is something a drone could solve--flying out to get her medicine. A future where people rely on drones is coming and the impact they bring could be bigger than any piece of hardware we have seen before.


Q: More and more companies, including Amazon, are getting into using drones and seeing more benefits in doing so. What do you think the benefits of using a drone are over the more traditional methods of providing the services that Up Sonder offers? Are there any drawbacks? If so, how do you deal with them?

A:
Simply put, drones are democratizing aerial data and transport by making everything less expensive. Just 10 years ago, oil and gas companies that wanted aerial photos would have to hire a helicopter, and real estate agents, and a camera crew for thousands of dollars. Today with drones you can get the same photos for a few hundred dollars. The price savings are enormous. Everyday drones are taking to the sky across the world saving businesses millions by gathering data and transporting materials at a fraction of the price that it cost before. 

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Adam Reynolds 11 months ago Member's comment

So do you think you will end up competing with #Amazon? Or being acquired by them? $AMZN.

Derek Waleko 11 months ago Member's comment

Adam, Up Sonder is taking a different approach to drones than Amazon. We are not creating or operating delivery drones, but we are developing a charing network to power drone deliveries. Also, we are providing drone service to various industries from energy to real estate, something Amazon is not doing.

Adam Reynolds 9 months ago Member's comment

It sounds like a very cool company. Are you accepting more investors to your crowdfunding campaign?

Danny Straus 11 months ago Member's comment

So if I invest, what kind of return could I expect?

Derek Waleko 11 months ago Member's comment

While our campaign is now over you can see more details about this here: https://republic.co/up-sonder

Harry Goldstein 11 months ago Member's comment

Derek Waleko, how much are you looking to raise in total, and how much have you raised to date?

Derek Waleko 11 months ago Member's comment

We just finished our equity crowdfunding campaign on Republic. It brought it over $360,000. For more info, go here: https://republic.co/up-sonder

Harry Goldstein 11 months ago Member's comment

That's very impressive. Congratulations. Does that mean it's too late to invest?

Ayelet Wolf 11 months ago Member's comment

I have to admit, startups rarely impress me this company found a real need, and has an ambitious plan in plan. It also looks like they've already raised quite a bit in their crowdfunding campaign. I'll definitely be taking a closer look.