Drone start-up scores major capital injection
At age fourteen, he dropped out of school to take up internship at Mclaren.
That was seven years ago.
Now, 21-year-old Blake Resnick’s drone company has just scored a coup by getting a shot in the arm worth $25million from an investment consortium.
The next time you see an organisation like WeRobotics scour the earth, setting up drone and robotics hubs like the Flying Labs network across the global south, this is exactly what they hope to get out of their enterprise.
Not kids dropping out of school, no. But enterprising young people who grow up with that natural desire to contribute to society and the self-belief that they can build something that can change the world.
Because the drones made by Resnick’s company, Blake Resnick Incorporated (BRINC), have made a palpable impact in the working lives of surveillance and security professionals in the USA.
Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, BRINC is an unmanned aerial aviation technology company building a new class of first response drones to keep people safe in dangerous situations.
By the time the BRINC drone first flew into the unstable wreckage of the Surfside, Florida condo whose side suddenly collapsed early this year, its siblings had already been making a big impact in police tactical surveillance circles, especially in Nevada, where in 2017, a gunman opened machine gun fire at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, killing several people.
Heartbroken by the loss of life, Resnick started looking for ways in which emergency response teams to hostage and shooting situations could be helped to save lives and time by technology. He consulted with Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams in Las Vegas on what sort of technology could have made their work better on that tragic October 1st day, and the result was the LEMUR S Drone – a purpose-built small unmanned aerial vehicle meant for flying indoors in a tactical environment to clear rooms as well as locate, isolate and communicate with suspects in hostage situations.
“The features and design of the LEMUR allow the drone operator to be a block to three blocks away from the incident and use the drone to breach glass, clear rooms in cluttered and dark environments, and ultimately have two-way communication capabilities with both the suspect and fellow SWAT team members,” the start-up said in May this year.
“Other capabilities of the LEMUR include turtle mode (which makes the drone flip back into the correct position, in case it lands on its back after a crash), durability, best-in-class flight times, a payload mount that allows the SWAT team to expand their capability set and the ability to distribute a live video feed to anybody who is part of the mission.
“The LEMUR allows tactical operators to slow down the mission and use technology to give them the time needed to make better decisions. Slowing down a mission is critical to the success of saving lives and helping communities. The ability to have eyes and ears in a dangerous situation without risking the life of a law enforcement officer is why we’ve built the LEMUR.”
When that apartment building in Surfside Florida partially collapsed early this year, engineers scrambled to inspect the structural integrity of the remaining part of the structure, lest they were showing signs of stress too. Physically sending in people into the building basement was out of the question though; as it was just hours after the one side of building crumpled.
Surfside officials then remembered they were already in talks with a young prodigy who was trying to sell them a drone just for this kind of dangerous undertaking.
Working differently from most drones that rely on GPS, the LEMUR uses LiDAR technology for obstacle detection and avoidance, which makes it one of the perfect tools for underground inspections.
So they called Resnick up.
It has been a whirlwind three years for the young man, who he has been designing and building machines for as long as he can remember; having gained robotics engineering knowledge from the most famous technology college of our lifetime – YouTube.
Resnick says he left high school to intern at car maker McLaren when he was fourteen. Two years later he was on the road again – this time bound for Tesla, where he got to meet personal Elon Musk. However, it must have been the sojourn at DJI that set him on course to opening a start-up that has now attracted a $25million investment from Index Ventures and Sam Altman its Serie A funding round.
The company has nearly 100 public sector contracts running across the world, and Resnick hopes to complete the prototype drone-in-a-box for ISR flight missions, border surveillance as well as related security applications.
“We hope to make the police helicopter obsolete (while being able to) respond to all serious emergencies in seconds,” Resnick says. “This funding round is basically enabling us to scale up that vision.”
The investment is expected to be directed at building factories and hiring engineers and sales people, with the founder hoping to raise the workforce to 55 employees, almost double the current number.