By @SimonCocking

SunBirds SunBirds designs, manufactures and markets totally new and unique solar unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

Imagine that you could explore hundreds of miles, or thousands of hectares on Earth, with a light drone launchable by hand, and powered by the Sun. In one go. And for 40+ different industries. Well, this is what we achieved in Sunbirds: we believe in a world where state-of-the-art technologies and ecology will match, for the good of everyone.

20082015_takeoff

How are you different?

The current UAV’s landscape is roughly split in two opposites:
– small and cheap multi-rotors with small flight times,
– more expensive, heavy and pollutant military drones but being able to fly for days or even weeks.
In the middle, a couple of small fixed-wing operators around the world try to hardly fill the gap, but none has reached an optimum:
– When you want endurance, the total weight increases ;
– When you try to miniaturise the drone, the price skyrockets ;
– When you try to drop in price, the quality (and safety) drops too.
Sunbirds considered all these needs, got rid of the above drawbacks, to achieve the first B2B solar powered UAV, being at the same time:
– Light (3 kilos max.)
– Highly endurant (flying all day long today, and continuously tomorrow)
– Affordable (between 50k€ and 100k€ according to the embarked sensor)
– Compliant with the regulations in the country where we will operate (and secure of course)
– And, icing on the cake, eco-friendly.

Why will the company / product do well?
Many reasons:
– High technical entrance barrier: Not easy for a start-up to have all the required skills in our industry: aeronautics, embedded systems, telecoms, electronics, nanotechnology, solar cells.
– First-mover advantage: 4 years of R&D to achieve this optimum, between performance, lightness and affordability.
– Our business model allows us to target 40+ industries, and we have early adopters in 50 countries now. So any issue (currency collapse, political instability, …) will hardly impact us.

Where are you based? How long will you stay there?

We are currently based in France but, depending on the 2016 round A fundraising, this could change. All possibilities are on the table, Europe, US…or another Southern country.

IMG_1197

When was the company launched?

Our company was officially established “only” on Aug.-31, 2015. We made the choice to achieve the prototype, test the market In several countries and different industries, before going out of the wood for good !

What have been your biggest wins to date?

To date, and despite of the official youth of our company, we had the chance to achieve a couple of big wins:
– Technical: achieving an up and running UAV matching all above features.
– Commercial: 50+ pays interested in our product, in 40+ industries.
– Exposure: several French contests won, technical partnerships with the French CEA (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique) and the ESA (European Space Agency). We are also a winner of the Lisbon Challenge (3-month intensive acceleration program we are currently attending), and we are of course exhibiting at the Web Summit as part of the Alpha Batch 2015.

d1

What type of people are you trying to attract to your product?

We are targeting only B2B market, but a wide range of players. Just to name a few:
– big farmers (agriculture, livestock) in several cultures (soya, wheat, wine…),
– industries (pipelines monitoring, railroads high-tension lines inspection, …),
– public services (road traffic monitoring, …)
– law enforcement (frontiers monitoring, anti-poaching, mines clearance, illegal logging, …)

Tell us about your team?

We are three founders, totalizing 26+ years of relevant technical experience, and 12+ years of experience in Business & Operations:
– Laurent RIVIERE, Co-founder & CEO: Engineer, 6+ years of experience in embedded systems and software development in the aerospace field.
– Marc BLAZY, Co-founder & CTO: Engineer, 20+ years of experience in Telecoms and Space Systems Engineering.
– Myself, Co-founder & COO: Engineer, 12+ years of experience in several sectors (Software editor, Telecoms, Financial Services, Industry and FMCG), mainly in Business & Operations, on the 5 continents.

What are you long term plans for your product / company?

In our very fast moving world, too long term plans become quickly unrealistic, but let’s say our main next moves for the 2 next years would be:
– Continue clients roadshows in South America, Africa and Asia,
– Achieve Round A fundraising,
– Widen our range of payloads,
– Enhance our drone to be able to operate it in tougher conditions than now,
– And of course be able to offer our solution to more clients in more countries !

How can people contact you?

The easiest way would be LinkedIN. Or just drop me a note though our website www.sunbirds-uas.com, we make a point to be reactive!


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or @SimonCocking