DC: What are your names, majors, minors, and anticipated graduation years?
Yaculak and Melnyk: Spencer Yaculak, Mechanical Engineering, Spring 2023 and Camilo Melnyk, Aerospace Engineering, Spring 2021.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Yaculak and Melnyk: Blimp Logistics is building a decentralized drone delivery network to provide last mile delivery services in rural and suburban markets. Using autonomous drones and automated hubs, we’ll be able to deliver orders from local grocery and convenience stores weighing up to 30 lbs.
DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Yaculak: For me, my first bit of startup experience was an internship at ARMR Systems Inc. a couple years ago. They were developing cutting edge hemorrhage control systems for battlefield injuries. I loved the start-up culture, the excitement, and the stakes. I knew I wanted to do something like that. When Camilo started talking to me about the tech that would become the backbone of Blimp, I was sold immediately!
Melnyk: I knew for a very long time that I didn’t want to work a traditional desk job. I didn’t really know what form my career would take, at one point I was planning on going to film school! After high school I found myself at UMD where I watched some of my friends start their own ventures, and from that moment I knew that was the path I wanted to take, it just took me a couple of years to come up with a venture idea that I was really excited for.
DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Yaculak: I love to help people. Blimp has given me the opportunity to connect an economically divided nation.
Melnyk: My biggest influence has been my fellow student entrepreneurs at UMD. Seeing my peers work their hardest at entrepreneurship motivates me, and it’s always inspiring to work alongside them.
DC: In the new virtual world, how has your focus or ideas changed?
Yaculak and Melnyk: The new virtual world has only sharpened our focus on our original idea. Customers and businesses are participating in e-commerce now more than ever, but the approach to last mile delivery hasn’t really evolved. Last mile delivery is the final link in the whole e-commerce chain, and when it’s slow, expensive, or the experience sucks it negatively affects the whole chain. We’re laser focused on fixing last mile delivery. This isn’t a problem that’s going away, our new virtual world has only caused it to get bigger, faster.
DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Yaculak and Melnyk: In the past six months we’ve made a significant number of steps forward. Our top three would probably be:
- Participating in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program, where we conducted interviews with business customers about their logistics processes and what they were looking for in a last mile delivery service.
- Completing designs of some very exciting prototype hardware to handle packages onboard our drones.
- And last but certainly not least, taking home the grand prize of $30,000 of seed money as the first place team in the Quattrone Venture Track at the 2021 Pitch Dingman Competition.
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Yaculak: Talk to other entrepreneurs, ask them questions, heed their advice, and take advantage of their networking circles to expand your own. People are everything!
Melnyk: Find people that can help push your idea forward, and that are just as excited about it as you are. Blimp wouldn’t have come as far as it has in the past year without my amazing co-founder Spencer and the incredible people at the Dingman Center. Fully utilize your network and the resources you have access to, and you’ll get much farther much quicker. Working with the right people will make you more productive, successful, and you’ll have much more fun!
For more information about Blimp Logistics, please visit the website here.
I have a question: what is it about the “last mile” of the delivery chain that needs help, eg drones? How are delivery company’s trucks, customer’s cars, walking, failing? Is it a matter of food being delivered while still warm? Thanks. Steven Hansen