Drone Technology To The Common People In A Cost-Effective Way
Skylark Drones is a technology start-up in the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) industry started in the year 2014 by Mrinal Pai and Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy. They have built drones that offer two services - DroneVertising (drone based advertising) and DroneVision (bird's eye view for any event or terrain).
Both Mrinal Pai and Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy have completed their graduation in Mechanical Engineering from R. V. College of Engineering, Bangalore. Having worked as interns at the Indian Institute of Science, the duo brought varied experiences to their startup company Skylark Drones.
In an exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers, Mrinal talks about Skylark Drones, his co-founder Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy, the NASA Engineering competition, his experiences as an intern at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the difference between the Education system in India and the USA, their ways to find equally motivated employees and a lot more. Read on to dig a little deeper into the lives of the young startup founders!
CE: Hi Mrinal. Could you please tell our readers about Skylark Drones?
Mrinal: The founding philosophy behind Skylark Drones is to bring Drone Technology to the common people in a cost-effective way.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs), more commonly referred to as Drones, have been covered extensively by the media for its destructive nature. We're here to change that notion. Drone Technology, unknown to most people, can be used for several safe and beneficial applications.
Skylark Drones offers a complete aerial solution for various terrestrial applications. Equipped with a high definition camera and controlled using a ground station computer, our drones fly over a pre-defined pattern to generate 3D model of land surfaces, which can be used for land surveying (GIS). This is a faster and a cheaper process, compared to the manual methods used currently.
This same technology can be extended to provide a never-before seen aerial perspective of real-estate properties such as Hotels, Resorts, Malls, Buildings and tourist locations. We provide a complete end-to-end service which includes setting up the drone-platform, capturing beautiful breath-taking views of the location, post-production and delivery.
Finally, Skylark Drones intends to bring a new dynamic form of advertising, which we call Dronevertising. This patent pending technology uses a specialized drone based system to lift banners into the air, making it a novel way to quickly reach an audience with captivating delivery. DroneVertising is ideal to publicize brands in events, malls or any other indoor or outdoor locations.
Thus, Skylark Drones could be an aerial partner to various businesses, providing multiple services using drones.
CE: How did you get in touch with Mughilan Thiru Ramasamy, co-founder at Skylark Drones?
Mrinal: Both me and Mughilan were part of a team in R V College of Engineering, called Team Vyoma, which used to participate in an annual international inter-collegiate competition called SAE Aerodesign. It is during those years when we designed and developed drones and solved various engineering problems together. Right from then, we saw the potential in the applications of drones for non-military purposes and that is how Skylark Drones evolved.
CE: Could you tell us about the NASA Engineering competition that Skylark Drones participated in 2013? How did it help you grow?
Mrinal: Systems Engineering award is an award sponsored and judged by NASA at the SAE Aerodesign competition. Systems engineering involves logical breakdown of the problem statement, usage of appropriate design techniques, testing and analysis, cost estimation of the project, task delegation etc. Team Vyoma won this award beating 75 other teams from all across the globe. This experience not only gave us in depth knowledge about drones, but also taught us how to go about doing any technical project systematically. We still implement the systems engineering approach for all our technical projects at Skylark Drones.
CE: Tell us about your experiences as an intern at the Indian Institute of Science. What has helped you more for running a startup - experience or degree?
Mrinal: At the Indian Institute of Science, I was involved in the design, fabrication and testing of a valveless pulse-jet engine. It was a valuable experience, helping me gain a lot of technical knowledge.
But from my experience so far, running a startup, I have realized that, it is not about the idea, but about how you implement the idea. Experience and degree do matter to a certain extent, but it is more about the will and determination to stick on to your passion and keep moving forward.
CE: Do you think Indian institutes don't give much exposure as compared to US Educational system? What would you recommend - M. Tech in Robotics from IISc or MS in Robotics from US?
Mrinal: From an educational degree perspective, I would recommend a MS from US compared to M Tech in India, because of the emphasis given on research.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, I would say that a degree doesn’t really matter, as long as the knowledge is inherited, either through self-study or experience.
CE: What is your team structure like? How do you manage it?
Mrinal: Other than the two founders, we have 11 interns working with us. We have different teams working in divisions such as sales & marketing, drone operations, post production, research & development etc.
At Skylark Drones, we break down big problems into smaller ones, and track the progress on a daily basis. This makes it easier to manage the activities and the team.
CE: How do you motivate your employees?
Mrinal: We don’t motivate our employees, because we find the best people for their respective roles. Our employees motivate us, because we share a common dream, a common goal. We, as a team believe that we can contribute to develop a drone eco-system which can provide for a better world.
Interns at Skylark Drones
CE: What is the best part about working with Skylark Drones?
Mrinal: To know that our work can directly benefit the society in multiple ways is the best part of being in this venture.
CE: Thank you for your time. Any message for our readers?
Mrinal: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.