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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Disclosure: Startup Watch is a platform TalkMarkets provides for startup company executives to discuss their companies in depth. TalkMarkets provides a suggested list of questions but the format ...

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Adam Reynolds 1 year ago Member's comment

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

Derek Waleko 1 year 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.

Terrence Howard 6 months ago Member's comment

Any updated on how your company has done? Planning on another crowdfunding campaign?

Adam Reynolds 1 year ago Member's comment

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

Danny Straus 1 year ago Member's comment

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

Derek Waleko 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year ago Member's comment

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

Ayelet Wolf 1 year 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.