By @SimonCocking

Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

Fathom is a company about bringing a sense of exploration and mystery back into everyday life. We believe there are too many secrets of the world within our reach, to sit idly back and watch life go by. With the Fathom One, a smart-device controlled underwater drone, we hope to allow everyday people to go on an adventure of their own, whether that’s swimming with sea life, or discovering sunken pirate treasure.

How are you different?

We’re different in a lot of ways. For starters, we believe that the ability to explore should be a human right, and so we’re hoping the ease of use and price of the Fathom One will allow most people with the desire to explore, to do so. The Fathom One is also the world’s smallest underwater drone. This means that rather than buying a special carrying case that may be bigger than your actual bag of luggage, Fathom can slip into your backpack and go just about anywhere you want to go.

Why will the company / product do well?

Fathom is not about selling an underwater drone that is extremely portable, accessible, and affordable, though it is all those things. Fathom is about creating a platform for adventure. Getting people off the couch, and out into the world, because the world is a pretty cool place. Technology clearly isn’t going away, so we figured the best way to get people outside, would be combining the technology with nature.

Where are you based?

We are based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about 25 minutes from Lake Michigan, home to shipwrecks, sailboats, sandy beaches, good beer, and a whole lot of snow in the wintertime.

When was the company launched?

Fathom officially launched in May of 2015, but we’ve been designing and iterating the first generation of the Fathom drone for about two years, making sure that when we release it to the public, people are going to love it.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

We’ve been part of a business accelerator in Grand Rapids, as well as participated in, and have won a few business competitions. These are all helping us make connections in the startup space, hone our business skills, and continue funding our dream.
On top of that, we’ve been able to meet some incredible people that we’ve brought onto the team in one way or another, and we’re extremely excited about the future of the company in the next couple months.

We’ve also had some cool press coverage in the last couple months. We were in the Detroit Free Press (probably a bigger deal for us since we’re from Michigan), and had the opportunity to shoot a video piece with the Discovery channel, which is a weird, but very cool experience to have when you start a company.

What type of people (market segment) are you trying to attract to your product?

We’ve based a lot of the design of the Fathom One around the idea that anyone with a smartphone will be able to use it by simply downloading a companion app, but we’ve had a lot of success talking with people who, as you may guess, already spend much of their time around the water. We’ve talked to Caribbean sailboat captains, people that scuba dive with sharks, aquariums, and a lot of boat owners looking for a new toy to bring on the water, as well as a useful tool depending on the situation.

Tell us about your team?

Our team is comprised of three Co-founders right now, myself (Danny Vessells), John Boss, Matt Gira. We started the company two years ago with an idea for an underwater drone that anyone could use anywhere, and a dream of becoming successful running our own company. The three of us met in college, and studied in various departments, from Chemical Engineering, to Economics, we’ve covered a lot of different material. I think that helps us maintain a very rounded team dynamic, something that has allowed us to get as far as we have.

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

The biggest plan we have right now is launching a Kickstarter campaign August 30th and its all hands on deck for that. We’ve been building and building to this point for a while, so it’s nice to see finally get the product into the hands of people around the world. After that the sky is the limit (I guess the bottom of the ocean would be more appropriate). We already have ideas in the pipeline to expand the functionality of the drone, as well as improve the overall experience. The Fathom One is completely modular, so that means when we produce new attachments, people can integrate them into the drones they already own without having to purchase a new model.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

3D printers are far and away the most useful pieces of technology we’ve been able to utilize during the design process. Coming from a group of individuals with very limited funds, the ability to quickly design a part, print it, and test it, has been invaluable. In fact, I don’t think we would have made it past the first month if we didn’t have 3D printing. In all likelihood, we would have spent all of our time in a rut, designing a concept that would never work in the physical world.

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

I’m not sure if we could use to to help us, but we are really thinking about the possibilities for virtual reality. We haven’t looked in to it very deeply for what we’re producing right out of the gate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets integrated down the line.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

That’s just about it. Make sure to check us out on Kickstarter August 30th!

How do people get in touch with you?

People can get in touch with us a couple different ways. First of all, if you sign up for the newsletter on our website, Fathomdrone.com, that’s how we send out a lot of new information. Otherwise email us at [email protected], or talk to us on twitter @fathomdrone.


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 on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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