Jeff Taylor’s path to entrepreneurship had an organic beginning. Using his own money and materials, Taylor was building drones from his home in San Diego and selling them online. While working at 3D Robotics, a corporation known for advanced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, he realized that there was a market gap for affordable, user friendly UAVs and saw that he could potentially sell the drones he had built in his spare time. However, once they started flying off the digital shelves, Taylor saw that this business opportunity could be a full-time job. He got hooked up with some cheap office space in Akron and moved back to Northeast Ohio as the founder of Event38 Unmanned Systems.
The innovation and problem solving skills needed to run a business weren’t foreign concepts to Taylor. He graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. Despite taking no formal classes in electrical engineering during his time at CWRU, Taylor earned a position at SpaceX as an electrical engineer based on skills he taught himself using engineering labs and open sessions available for students at CWRU.
He had always been interested in aerospace, specifically because of the particular technology involved in these complicated machines. “I was interested in computing but also things that moved in the real world,” said Taylor. UAVs were just one subset of the field at that time and had not yet gained the popularity we see today “Drones were still this very small, very niche thing. Things were still not perfected and there was a lot of work left to be done.”
With today’s technology, it is possible for people to find unusual and creative uses for drones, but the expense of the components and the knowledge needed to create one of these machines had left many sectors unable to use this technology. When Event38 began, Taylor began to wonder who was buying his affordable and ready to use product. As it turns out, there were a large number of individuals in the agriculture market who were using the technology to monitor crops through photography and digital imagining. With this knowledge, Taylor began to develop his products with this key customer in mind. He transitioned from providing live video feeds to agricultural mapping and now has put a lot of focus on imaging and photography.
Though he believed the agriculture sector would be a manageable focus for the young company, Taylor came to realize that even this one area has lots of room for development. Combining imagining with remote sensing along with the standard drone technology has been a challenge for the team as they become more advanced. “It was really a much bigger chunk than we anticipated…we’ve learned a ton about it but there’s a lot more to deliver,” said Taylor.
The next product Event38 hopes to deliver would a software interface that could be used along with the drones to help farmers and other users to find solutions. The team is hoping to turn the information received by the drones into usable data which would help compare a customer’s products or yields more easily. They have also coordinated with CWRU’s Blackstone Launchpad to make connections with the school’s Master of Engineering and Management program candidates who are assisting them with the development of another new product, an off-the-shelf multirotor which could be used with the current product line as an auxiliary collection platform.
The major obstacle that stands in Event38’s path now is financing and opportunity. The company has done well, but these next steps will require a larger network of investors and partner organizations. To help solve this problem, Taylor will be attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January.
With the assistance of Blackstone and think[box], Event38 will be hosting a booth at the show which will provide a unique opportunity to meet with the people who could make a huge difference for the company. “I would like to come out with someone we could have a partnership with. We’ve got a good business and we’re growing. We’d grow a lot more quickly if we can get a jumpstart now.” Taylor will be joined by his partner, John Blair, and one of their MEM student workers, Pedro Sol Pegorini Liborio De Lima. Together, the team looks to make the connections to help Event38’s innovative ideas take flight.