This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.
Founders: Camilo Melnyk ’21
DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?
Melnyk: Blimp Logistics is a drone delivery company. We are trying to develop a complete drone logistics network that will be capable of providing ultra-fast delivery between local businesses and their customers.
DC: How did you first come up with your idea?
Melnyk: It was a mixture of following the news, interest in drones, writing a research paper for class, and boredom on a family road trip.
During the summer of 2018, my family and I were driving back to Maryland after a family vacation in Canada. A research paper I had just written on drone legislation was fresh in my mind, and to keep from falling asleep my dad and I were taking about business ideas, drones, hobbies, etc. We talked about competitors in the field, ideas blended, and I came up with what I thought was a novel approach to drone delivery.
After getting home I sat down and did some research. I was hooked. I had a novel idea, at this point I had already been flying and building drones for 6 years, I was majoring in aerospace engineering, and I wanted to be my own boss when I graduated. Starting my own business seemed to be the only option!
DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?
Melnyk: Getting into Terp Startup was a huge milestone. Prior to this program I was building small prototypes with very limited resources while I took the New Venture Practicum course. With the capital from Terp Startup, my team and I have really expanded what we are designing and building. We have made a huge amount of progress on our prototypes and are excited to show people.
DC: What drives you to keep going?
Melnyk: I am fascinated by drones and this startup is where I want to work when I get out of college, so I am in this for the long haul. I have one year left at the University of Maryland, so I’m really feeling the urgency to get this venture into a good position before I graduate.
Drones excite me because they have the potential to change so much. They will enable smaller businesses to compete, take delivery vehicles off the road, and connect businesses and customers across wider distances. I am really looking forward to the day when I’ll be able to look up and see the lights on drones zip by me hundreds of feet up.
DC: How do you feel about working in a cohort with fellow student entrepreneurs?
Melnyk: It’s really motivating. Working with other students who have the same or greater drive to make their own businesses succeed really humbles you. It helps you push forward when the only person holding you accountable is yourself. You want to be successful with them.
I underestimated the advantage of community when you are trying to build something. My cohort is a fantastic resource to bounce ideas off, get help with engineering challenges, and to hear new perspectives from.
DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup this summer?
Melnyk: I’d like to complete the first prototype of the drone logistics network and learn how to run a successful startup. Like most of my cohort, I’ve never done this before! I’m excited to learn everything from startup financials to customer acquisition to pitching.