Limited flight times have long been a major obstacle for drones. All-electric drones often max out at 30 minutes or less, while even the best serial hybrids may last for around an hour. This is far too short to use them in high risk applications like search and rescue or wildfire fighting.
Enter Parallel Flight Technologies. This Deal to Watch startup has developed a hybrid drone that is capable of carrying much heavier payloads with longer flight times than other drones currently on the market. We sat down with founder and CEO Joshua Resnick to find out how wildfires inspired him to start Parallel Flight and where the company is headed.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
We’ve created patent-pending hybrid drone technology that will allow drones to carry heavy payloads for over two hours. This is a 10X solution over today’s electric-only drones. The technology is ideal for use in fighting wildfires, search and rescue, and logistics missions. Our unmanned, autonomous aircraft will also open new possibilities for medical logistics, construction, ship-to-shore, and other remote logistics applications.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
I almost lost my home to a wildfire in California, and I wanted to find a way to help solve the ongoing wildfire crisis. Parallel Flight Technologies could revolutionize the way we fight fires, but the applications go into many other verticals.
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
I lived in Alaska for 12 years where I owned my own company developing hybrid power systems for Alaskan fishing boats to increase fuel efficiency. These systems had to survive one of the toughest environments on earth – the Bering Sea. Following this, I led system architecture for the Tesla Semi truck program, which was a formative experience in a scrappy, mission driven company. These two experiences have formed me both as an entrepreneur and an engineer. I am passionate about solving tough problems to help the environment using extreme hardware on the edge of the laws of physics.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
The future is going to rely on autonomous systems to do work that is dull, dirty, or dangerous. Parallel Flight is developing technology to serve logistics missions that are in high risk environments, where human lives are on the line. In the wildfire industry, for example, unmanned systems will deliver tools and supplies to firefighters on the front lines. They will autonomously extinguish spot-fires. Ultimately they will detect and suppress fires as soon as they start, changing the game and ending the era of megafires which have destroyed communities around the world.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
My co-founders and I have known each other for about 5 years, since I moved to California, and I have known our test engineer since college. Their backgrounds are in robotics, drone autonomy, and computer science. We have also brought on an excellent mechanical engineer with great startup experience, as well a business operations person. Finally, we are very fortunate to have a top-notch advisory board with drone, startup, business development, and finance experience.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
There is definitely competition in this space. Competitors are either all-electric heavy-lift systems or gas powered helicopter configurations. We differentiate through our proprietary parallel-hybrid technology, which is more efficient and has intrinsic redundancy. We have roughly 10X the flight time vs. an all-electric solution while carrying a heavy payload. In an engine failure, our aircraft can continue to fly and land much more easily than a comparable helicopter system.
What does your business model look like?
We will sell solutions to fire, industrial logistics, and healthcare. The revenue streams include product sales and leases, service contracts, and solutions R&D.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
The public is enthusiastic about solutions for technologies that address environmental and public safety issues. People want to contribute to innovative solutions, especially if they can “do well while doing good.” We have had amazing support from our personal F&F networks, then from our first Reg CF round which oversubscribed in just over two months. We have also had great support from the federal government via grants from NASA and NSF. We will use the capital from our current round to hire a drone pilot to begin flying missions with our early partners, hire additional engineers, and hire top-notch technicians to build our beta level drones for our customers.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
We are mission driven technologists and problem solvers. The team is passionate about making a difference soon and bringing this technology market!
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
We want our technology to be deployed worldwide, at scale, in multiple industries from fire to construction to medical deliveries. We also see our technology enabling critical links in the supply chain and at the ready for future crises such as pandemics. Exit opportunities could include acquisition by large logistics companies, acquisition by aerospace companies, or IPO.
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Joshua and his team take the company. Parallel Flight Technologies is currently raising on Wefunder.
About: Olivia Strobl
Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.