Company Base Data
Company Name: DRONAMICS
No. of Employees: 150
Headquarter: London, United Kingdom
Funding: 17 M USD
Operating Markets: R&D and manufacturing in Bulgaria; Airline & operations in Malta and Australia
Founders: Svilen Rangelov (CEO), Konstantin Rangelov (CTO)
Reference Customers: DHL, Hellmann Wo rldwide Logistics
E-Mail Contact: email@example.com
No. of Employees
Coming from the high performing German automotive market, we are constantly expanding our markets also internationally
Dr. Wolfgang Hackenberg (CEO)
Dr. Lennart Bochmann (CPO)
Tobias Gagern (CTO)
This time we interviewed Svilen Rangelov, CEO and co-founder of DRONAMICS.
Svilen, to start things off, can you give us a brief description of DRONAMICS?
DRONAMICS is a pioneer in the middle-mile cargo drone market. We are an alternative to the passenger or cargo airplane, the delivery truck or van – we can cover distances faster than road, at a lower cost than traditional air and with better fuel efficiency which results in lower environmental impact. Our solution works for consumer and b2b industries alike. We are seeing lots of interest from time-critical cargo, perishables, pharma, as well as spare parts, e-commerce, fashion and even postal services. It also has the potential to unlock economic opportunities by creating new direct trade routes and connecting previously under-served communities.
Can you give us a little inisght into the founding story? How was DRONAMICS born?
The idea was born back in 2014 when my brother Konstantin, an aerospace engineer working in the Netherlands asked me to ship some of his favourite cheese from home, on the other side of Europe, over to him. The problem was air was far too expensive, and road too slow and unreliable. My response was: “You are the engineer, why not think of a solution?” He did, building the first long-range drone purposefully designed for cargo – the Black Swan. The more we developed the solution, the more we realised its full potential, to challenge the traditional hub-and-spoke model and democratise air freight for people everywhere.
We vowed to stop shaving until the full-scale drone completes its test flight program, to remind us daily of the hard work that goes into making our vision a reality. We don’t hide the fact we cannot wait to shave – very soon!
That is a great story indeed! So what are you personal backgrounds and how is the company organized?
Myself and Konstantin are the co-founders of DRONAMICS. I studied economics in the US and worked in consulting and business development, whereas my brother is an aerospace engineer, with a degree from TU Delft in the Netherlands.
Our company is headquartered in the UK, with key divisions across several geographies – the T R&D and manufacturing engineering team is predominantly based in Sofia, Bulgaria and the Airline division has teams in Malta, the UK and Australia.
Our team comprises leading aerospace engineers, airline operations executives and logistics experts.
Let’s get back to the operations: which specific problem does DRONAMICS solve for its customers?
What we offer can be summarised as time, cost and environmental efficiency. Our solution, consisting of middle-mile remotely piloted drones and a network of droneports, offers same-day delivery service – the speed of air at the cost of road transportation, with up to 90% less emissions than traditional air freight. Our solution is also ideal for connecting remote communities or islands where the alternatives are either slow or extremely expensive. Our droneports require minimal infrastructure and only 400m of land strip to land and take off, a huge opportunity for developing economies where the lack of infrastructure significantly impacts trade flows.
Thanks to the flexibility of our operation model and the fact we sell capacity, not aircraft, we are able to service freight forwarders, logistics giants, as well as individual businesses. In the future, there is scope for marketplace integration into e-commerce platforms with the potential of turning us into b2b-2c business.
How would you describe DRONAMICS’ USP then?
Many other cargo drones are conversions from traditional planes or repurposed drones. Drone manufacturers do not operate them, they provide a tool, not a solution. DRONAMICS is a all-in-oneservice, it provides the drone, the operation, & the control.
In terms of competing with other modes of transport – our innovation makes mass air cargo accessible through standardisation, easy deployment & operation; essentially offering the speed of air at the cost of road transportation.
Shipping within the EU averages at 1-4 business days, & 1-3 days in the US, but same-day is reserved for urgent shipping only because of high cost. The solution we are proposing also has the potential to redefine the traditional hub-and-spoke model by offering a flexible regional connectivity solution where the drone is not bound to return to its base after completing a route but react to the customer’s demand.
To get an even better understanding: how would you describe your target customers or your ideal customer profile?
We operate on a service model where we sell blocked space capacity on our cargo drones to logistics companies or directly to cargo owners to ship between the Dronport networks we build. Within the broad applications for same-day air delivery, we have focused on three specific business cases in e-commerce, pharmaceuticals and spare parts delivery. Critically, the cargo has to be transported as quickly as possible to its final destination in each of the three business cases. In the case of e-commerce, online retailers are always looking to meet and excel beyond their promise for delivery to their customers. In pharmaceuticals, vaccines and medical supplies are often life-saving and their timely delivery is crucial. Similarly, spare parts are critically needed to bring an aircraft on ground back into service, or urgent shipments of parts in cases of downtime of mining equipment or large production lines in automotive and aerospace.
There is significant interest in our first commercial flights which will be history-making as the first cargo drone flights between two countries. We will announce the details in due course.
Decarbonization of transport is one of the most urgent topics of our time. DRONAMICS’ drones already operate very fuel efficient; how do you see the future of airfreight vs. rail and decarbonized road freight?
Our main focus is to build the most fuel-efficient aircraft in terms of CO2 emitted per FTK of cargo shipped. We have chosen to start with a certified ROTAX that is a widely used aviation engine, known to the regulator but also allowing us to enter the market now instead of waiting for electric or hydrogen engines to catch up. We have a roadmap that will see us migrate to biofuel and synthethic fuel without modifying the engine and to ultimately, to hydrogen fuel. When electric engine technology allows the distance and payload we carry, there is no reason we can’t migrate to electric.
We hold CarbonNeutral company certification for our current operations and manufacturing through a combination of in-house efficiency measures, renewable energy and external emissions reductions projects.
What are further technological innovations on DRONAMICS’ roadmap? How will your drones and the operations look in five years from now?
In 2022, we are planning to start with our first commercial flights in Europe and ramp up our production capacity of the aircraft that can match our current customer pipeline. We are also setting up a team in Australia that will drive the second region where we deploy our solutione aim to become the world leader, pioneer & household name in worldwide drone-based middle-mile logistics; and we’re in a good position to achieve this.
Let’s switch one last time from opportunities to hurdles: what are the greatest challenges on your way of establishing the business? How did the regulatory environment change and what is still to be optimized in the years to come?
Obtaining authorization for operations is now the main hurdle for any drone logistics operator. Being an exclusively middle-mile drone delivery operator,we are setting up our operations similar to an airline. Bearing in mind that this is an entirely new solution we will be initially operating low-risk routes over the Mediterranean sea and as we get more flight hours our ambition is to connect regional centres across countries.
Thank you very much, Svilen! The last words to our readers are yours.
As we prepare for the first commercial flights of the Black Swan we are also expanding our team across our teams in Malta, Bulgaria and the UK with open positions in engineering and manufacturing that can be found on our website: www.dronamics.com/careers
Our upcoming months will be quite exciting as we will be announcing our roadmap for scaling up of manufacturing of the Black Swan drone after its first flights. As well as start a Series A fundraising aimed at commercialising our solution across Europe and Australia. Stay tuned!
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