KGO 810 CEO Spotlight – Derek Waleko, Up Sonder

KGO 810 CEO Spotlight – Derek Waleko, Up Sonder

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In This Live Interview

Derek Waleko, CEO and co-founder of Up Sonder, an on-line marketplace for drones and drone services, gives new entrepreneurs great advise on the best and worst practices of starting a business.

[00:00:56.730] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
It’s time for our CEO spotlight. This is where we learn about companies and their CEO’s Lessons. What worked what didn’t work what can I take away when I start my company. What words of wisdom are we going to get and joining me this week we have CEO of Up Sonder. His name is Derek Waleko. Derek welcome to the show.

[00:01:17.810] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
Thanks for having me. And also thank you to Crissy, she’s been a pleasure in the background to work with.

[00:01:25.770] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
Well wonderful.

[00:01:25.980] – SPEAKER: CRISSY
Thank you

[00:01:25.999] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
I love to hear that. That’s great news Derek. Thank you for that. All right so let’s talk about this first hand so Up Sonder your you’re a relatively new company and you’re now in the Area you’re based out of L.A.. Tell me a little bit about the company first before we get into your experiences.

[00:01:42.230] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
Sure. Up Sonder we’re in on demand drone and service rental marketplace powered by UberRUSH. We’re very much part of the sharing economy, but simply what that means is; it means jobs for drone pilots; jobs for drone owners and in a very simplistic form basically what Airbnb was able to do for homeowners, and what Uber was able to do for car owners, Up Sonder is doing for drone owners. We are a marketplace for the drone community.

[00:02:09.800] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
So OK so you’re you’re matching people up so I let’s say I own a drone and I’m not using it right now but somebody else might want to use it for something filming or an event or something else and you connect me so it’s like hey I can make some money back on this drive maybe I spent a thousand bucks on a nice drone. I can make some money back by kind of renting it out when I’m not using it. Is that what you’re explaining?

[00:02:33.110] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
That’s exactly right and it goes a little bit further than that. Not only can you if you have like maybe the Phantom 4 from DJI you know you’re flying to San Francisco you don’t want to travel with your own drone just rent when you land. You can rent from yourself and go out and take take advantage of that. But also if you’re a certified FAA drone pilot the has your part 107, we allow you to go ahead and get on on the marketplace as well and list your services. And then companies and industry can hire you as well to do drone projects within their direct area.

[00:03:02.420] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
So as a freelance work as part of it is what you just described.

[00:03:06.540] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
Yes. So we have to we have two providers portions we have people that just rent their drone and only have their drone and they may not be licensed themselves but they have their drone register with the FAA. And what we do is allow them to rent out their equipment or we have the actual certified FAA drone pilots that list their service on the side as well.

[00:03:25.310] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
All right so Derek Waleko CEO of Up Sonder joining me here for CEO spotlight. So of course drones you know especially in the Bay Area there’s been controversy right of people improperly flying over somebody’s backyard they feel like they’re spying on them or people are always worried. The thing that I always hear is the noise there’s a noise complaint. How do you guys address those concerns?

[00:03:47.330] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
Well you know the Seattle Space Needle incident where the drone flew into it?

[00:03:51.980] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
[00:03:51.990] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO

That was one of our renters that accidentally did that.

[00:03:58.850] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
OK so what did you guys… I mean what was your involvement? what did you guys… did you guys get in trouble?

[00:04:03.990] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
I’m sorry, I’m just joking. That would actually be a PR nightmare for us. You bring up a great point. The issue that people… sorry to play a little joke on you guys, but you know I just want to kind of tell and take this moment to address your listeners and let them know that you know incidences like that we don’t condone, we encourage everyone of all FAA rules and we really want people to have to have a fun time flying. Incidents like that really set back the industry as a whole and companies like Up Sonder that are trying to make industry safe. And you know with verifications and safety precautions in place. It really does set us back. But with people’s concerns you know we have these guidelines on our on our site that really tell them you know where they should be flying and how they should be flying and to follow the rules and we make sure that they understand FAA guidelines. And we really try to make this in a holistic environment for the drone industry that that’s really enjoyable not only for just the providers to earn a little bit more money but also the renters for them to enjoy the drone industry as well.

[00:05:06.410] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
OK so this is all tongue in cheek question So are you helping Amazon and Google here to hurry up and start doing the drone delivery my house.

[00:05:15.250] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
Yes. So we will what we’re doing is part of the sign up process that Up Sonder has is we ask all our providers if they have access to their roof if they’re owners of their property and if they’re willing to let us install a drone charging dock because in the future once the FAA lifts these bans, these rules right now that require line of sight where you have to keep the drone inside as you’re flying and you know not being able to fly over people. Once these kind of get removed, companies like Amazon and FedEx will have free reign to start delivering packages and this is really a good thing for everyone. It’s good for the consumers good for the company’s bottom line. But one thing that we’re solving right now early is the battery technology. And one of the things that better technology does not follow is Moore’s law and does not exponentially get better over time. And so what we’re doing is we’re securing real estate rooftop real estate across the United States within our networks so that we can install these drone charging docs so that companies like Amazon and FedEx and the drones superhighway that’s coming can be powered.

[00:06:23.440] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
I love it. I mean I hadn’t even I was saying it tongue in cheek but you’re dead serious. That was an interesting response. Derek Waleko is the CEO of Up Sonder it’s up dotcom u p s o n d e r. All right. I’ll bring the CEO spotlight. I always have to ask the question because I’m curious to know about your experience as a CEO. So tell me you know if you went back before you started ups on her you had just had the idea and you said don’t make this mistake. What is the one thing that you wish you had avoided when you built Up Sonder?

[00:06:50.530] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
One of the lessons learned early on was you know getting good lawyers. I think you know surround yourself with great lawyers competent lawyers that know what they’re doing you know and making those decisions quick and just being consistent with what you’re doing. You know early on I think if I had to go back and kind of do things… it took us six months to get our insurance in place for our company you know we offer a million dollar liability policy to our providers that list on our site. And it was it was it was a long hassle and I think also another good point is you know hire slow and fire fast because we went through some bad brokers in the beginning to help us get our policy in place. And I honestly should have got rid of them three months earlier than than I had. And our new brokers that came on got the deal done and negotiated with the underwriters. But yeah there were a lot of lessons learned. But you know we developed everything in 2016 and we just launched about two weeks ago. But yeah I I would say just you know get a good law firm in place and hire slow fire fast.

[00:08:02.270] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
I like the hire slow fire fast. All right. When you and I know it’s still relatively easy but what’s the thing that you think you did best.

[00:08:08.910] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
Respect for others. You know I don’t… it’s a big philosophy of mine that it doesn’t matter if it’s the janitor of the company or the billionaire investor I think treat everyone equal and keep keeping the same respect for everyone is really key to producing a healthy ecosystem for whatever company, doesn’t matter if it’s a drone marketplace. I think just having that respect for a human beings is very very important in any leadership position

[00:08:35.799] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
You’re preaching to the choir and that when my grandfather who started a family business in the depths of the Great Depression and his business card it was chief cook and bottle washer and part of the point of that was that we respect everybody equally everybody is on the same level because we’re all human and I love that answer. Derek Waleko CEO of Up Sonder., described to me in a ten second description and it’s almost like Airbnb type thing for drones.

[00:09:04.170] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
Exactly. So what Airbnb was able to do for homeowners, and Uber was able to do for car owners, Up Sonder is doing for drone owners. An on demand drone and service rental market place, that is powered powered by UberRUSH. We actually have a great relationship with Uber and they deliver our drones for us. So from the time that you ordered as a renter to the time it arrives at your doorstep is 30 minutes which is pretty phenomenal for us. You know we’re really the first in industry and we’re the only drone company working with Uber right now and it’s pretty exciting stuff. But yes if you would like to run a drone whether you’re a commercial company or your general public Up is a place to do it.

[00:09:39.870] – SPEAKER: ETHAN BEARMAN
Well fantastic. Well I appreciate your insight and sharing about your company it’s, Derek Waleko CEO. Thanks for coming on the spotlight today.

[00:09:48.040] – SPEAKER: DEREK WALEKO
I appreciate you having me. Thank you Ethan.

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