Dart Drones entered the Shark Tank in Season 8 with their flight school for drone pilots. Their programs have trained over 4,000 pilots from organizations such as the FBI, CBS, ABC, HBO, the Arizona Cardinals, and dozens of police and fire departments nationwide.
We interviewed CEO and co-founder Abby Speicher, who runs the Scranton, Pennsylvania-based company with her father, Chris. When asked what made her start the business, she said, “There were no viable training options for a beginner in an incredibly confusing and ever-changing space. Ever since, we have been working on becoming the nationwide leader in drone training.”
Here’s what else she told us about…
How the Idea Came About & the Importance of Drones
I had started my first company when I was 17 and always wanted to be an entrepreneur. While attending Babson College’s MBA in Entrepreneurship, I became fascinated with how the drone industry was literally taking off and effecting dozens of industries. I wanted to get trained on drones so that I could learn about different business opportunities in drones…Drones are absolutely amazing. I think a lot of people think drones may be a fad, but I firmly believe they are here to stay. They are incredibly useful for so many purposes including search and rescue, accident investigation, inspections, reporting, real estate and photography.
Their Flight Instructors
All Dart Drones’ flight instructors are manned aircraft pilots. We vetted hundreds and hundreds of applications as we narrowed down to our 45 flight instructors. Beyond teaching experience, experience with drones, and aviation experience, the biggest factor we consider is personality. We look for flight instructors who are fun and easy to talk to, but also have incredible backgrounds. Dart Drones’ flight instructors include Blackhawk helicopter pilots, retired fire fighters, current police officers and dozens of military veterans. All new flight instructors come to a Train the Trainers event where they are welcomed to the team and taught how to teach our courses by one of our most experienced instructors.
Who They Train
Our classes usually have students with extremely diverse backgrounds. In one class you may have a police chief, a CEO, a journalist, a fire fighter, a roof inspector, a video producer, and a 17-year-old and his grandpa. We are currently working on “mission specific” training courses which will train advanced pilots on how to complete specific missions for different use cases.
Working With Her Dad
Having my dad on the team is a huge asset, especially on the not-so-great days. My dad’s experience with business and entrepreneurship has taught him to keep calm and let things work themselves out. I am slowly learning this lesson too. Having an advisor and co-founder that I can trust completely helps me make better decisions.
Her ‘Tank’ Experience
I have always dreamed of being on Shark Tank. One day, I just decided to apply. A few weeks later, I got a phone call from one of the producers that they wanted me to move on to the next round. After convincing myself that it wasn’t a prank and hanging up the phone, my sister and I screamed our lungs out in excitement. I still can’t believe it’s real…There were extreme highs and lows through the entire experience. I was really nervous that day before I pitched, but once I got out there in front of the Sharks, I calmed down, especially, after the drone flying was over. Those are some expensive faces to fly drones near!